© 2019 MOCT Foundation


in conversation with
Paulina Siniatkina

"Hold your Breath"

The finalist of the first annual Cube.Moscow Art Residence 2019,
Paulina Siniatkina. Since surviving tuberculosis in 2015 she is combining art with activism to break down society's barriers around stigmatized people. We sat down to talk all things art, activism and hope.

Paulina, if it is not art, what would you be doing?

I would be a rock star/activist!

How would you describe your style?
How has your style evolved over time, and what has influenced
its development?

Basically, I am a painter. When I was studying at the Art Academy I was influenced a lot by Renaissance art. For instance, masterpieces such as "Portrait of a young Girl" by Petrus Christus or "Portrait of a young Woman" by Antonio del Pollaiuolo influenced my own portraits. These portraits still impress me a lot.

But since I started studying contemporary art my point of view has been transformed. The studies at "Free workshops", MMOMA made me think more broadly, and opened me up for self development.

What is your background?

I have been an artist all my life. At the age of 6 I was studying at a professional art school. In 2013 I graduated as a monumental painter from the Russian Academy of the Arts (Moscow State Academic Art Institute named after Surikov). And in 2018 I finished the course of contemporary art at "Free workshops" MMOMA.
Art and activism... Do you think art has the ability to make a real difference?
And should it strive to?


I think art and activism exist parallelly and combined they are even stronger. Art is the strongest tool to make a real change the world.

How important is the opinion of the audience to you? Does it affect what you are trying to portray and how?

I have a big audience, many followers, so I feel responsible for what I am doing. But it doesn't really affect what I do, as I portray my personal story. My purpose is to affect my audience. To make them think more broadly about social issues.

What are you hoping people take away from your work?

I hope people will realise that some of the big social issues in the world are shrouded by stigma. And I hope to inspire them to change something.

Can you tell us about your experience at Cube.Moscow?
What did you work on and how did this experience influence the outcome?

I worked on my project "Chamber N12" which represented my chamber where I had fought TB in 2015. In three weeks I created 2 paintings, an installation and developed a performance. I am very happy with the result!
Up until the end of the residency I didn't know what kind of performance
I would make, but in the end the right idea came to my mind.

Three paintings in my Chamber represent 3 hospital beds. There are no people on these beds, as I want the audience to take this role. This series of paintings
is named "Home sweet hospital. "The bedroom". My main idea is to show
that "living in the hospital" can happen to anyone. The hospital can become your home too, as it happened to me (I spent more than half a year in hospital). To make the installation "Endlessness" I used real drop-counters
and connected them with each other to show how each day becomes
endless for people in hospital.
What was the highlight?

My performance "Highly contagious" was the last and the most important part of the entire project. It was about stigma. I asked viewers to wear masks after they leave the chamber, as it is a real rule in any TB hospital. My chamber is a space which is free of stigma. Inside of it, you can share anything with your chamber-mates. But when you leave the chamber you risk being judged and rejected by society.

Are these experiences important? Do you think there are other ways that
young and up and coming artists can be supported in Russia nowadays?

I was very lucky to be supported by the MOCT Foundation, and I am very grateful for this experience in my art career. It is very important for any artist
to receive support. Artists are some of the most vulnerable people in terms of surviving in Russia. You either should be an art businessman or you have to
find your own promoter.