This post is devoted to the project «Neuter Gender Works» by Elena Elagina.

Elagina belongs to the circle of Moscow Conceptualists.  She has started to work at the project in the 1980’s and it still continues.  The artwork «Detskoe» (Children’s) was the start of the project and first Elagina’s experiment with language in visual arts.

The whole project is based on the artist’s discovery that in Russian language when a separate adjective is used in neuter gender, this word becomes an abstract category. Elagina calls this phenomenon «pathetics of neuter gender». A separate adjective in such form denotes not a specific characteristic of something but a generalized concept. At the same time such adjective in couple with a noun can  denote specific feature. Elagina plays with this ambivalent situation. She finds words which are used for general categories and at the same time in names of everyday things. The artist detects such examples in soviet design. The work «Detskoe» (Children’s) is a child medicine sticker which was zoomed and turned into large board. The works «Narujnoe» (External) and «Vnutrennee» (Internal) are appropriated and zoomed medical prescriptions, for the work «Degtarnoe» (Tar) she used design of a soap pack. One the one hand these artworks are found objects and words in them has materiality because they are an essential part of goods, on the other hand they become absurd slogans because of large size of boards and «pathetics of neuter gender». These works captures the situation when the meaning and ideological concept belong not to the word itself but only to it’s form.

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