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Focus on Alice Nikolaeva

The studio of Alice Nikolaeva, a real battlefield between East and West, is located in les Beaux-Arts de Paris (Fine Art school of Paris). Californian mood against the backdrop of post-Soviet era in the heart of Paris.

Can you tell us more about you?

I was born and raised in Samara, a town in the south of Russia located on the banks of the Volga close to the Kazakhstan border. I went to an architecture & design school. With some friends, we opened the first artist run space of Samara during that period. It was both a studio and a lab where we organized exhibitions. I pursued my studies in France and went, in 2014, to the school of Fine Arts of Paris, at Jean-Luc Vilmouth’ studio. Last year, I did a residency of 6 months at the Otis College of Art and Design.

It was both a studio and a lab where we organized exhibitions

Tell us a little more about your experience at the Otis College in Los Angeles?

The United-States have always had a strong image for those who were raised in Russia in the ‘90s. I really liked the experience at the Otis College even if I couldn’t enjoy the city.Indeed, it’s been one of the most productive time of my studies and I used to work 15 hours a day in the studio.

The Otis College is open 24/7 and everything is organized to work efficiently: materials, supervision and logistic. I could produce my ceramic project and start to work with steel. It was really great to experience another way of working and thinking the art. Compared with Paris, Californian art scene is more open-minded and not afraid to take risks.

Californian art scene is more open-minded and not afraid to take risks

What is the origin of your interest in those urban structures that we can find in your work?

It is mainly because of my studies in Samara. I was in the design department but the lessons were given by a professor of architecture.  So, the references they used were mainly about urban planning, architecture and Bauhaus.

Growing up in Russia means that you are continuously faced with the brutalism and constructivism movement. I’ve always been fascinated by the way they think and organize public space. In Russia, the way of thinking the private property and the public space is really different because of the size of the country and the Soviet legacy.

Can you choose and explain one of the works presented on La peau de l’ours ?

Playground because this is the first piece made in Los Angeles which is part of the study on our relationship with public space.The work is a symbol of a playground. Arches are made with Hula-Hoops you can find in any toy store and the metal structure reminds us the architecture and the shape of Orthodox churches. There is a longing side with this structure which reminds me a playground that I used to know in Russia and the desire to simplify the shape with a universal symbol.

There is a longing side with this structure

Let’s conclude with your future projects?

 Some nice plans with an exhibition in September in Brussels for La peau de l’ours and then another one in the UK. Art residency with a program in Virginia (USA) and in Russia. I’m also seeking a place to create an artist run space and an exhibition called “Pussy on Fire”.