Born in Moscow, Russia, in 1962.
She lives and works in Moscow.
Olga Chernysheva is deeply engaged in the representation of the real. She first studied to become an animated filmmaker at Moscow’s Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography during Soviet times and later studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. Her main concern as an artist is the everyday, which she investigates and interprets not only as a photographer and filmmaker, but also as a painter, graphic artist, and writer. Her focus on the mundane—a subject that is usually downplayed in Russian visual culture today—locates Chernysheva in the tradition of socialist realism. However, rather than ideologically charging her subjects, she carefully observes and then makes visible the transformations in Russian society, a society still marked by the Soviet era but moving quickly toward a brutal neoliberal consumer culture.
When Chernysheva documents the presence of migrant laborers or security guards, who have accompanied the introduction of private property and luxury goods, she does so with great sympathy for her protagonists and not with lurid interest to show them as ugly or absurd. Unique to her work is the subtle humor with which her protagonists appear as artists of the everyday, no matter whether they sing, dance, or perform gymnastics. Art historian Boris Groys has described this gesture as the opposite of what Russian art claimed to do in the twentieth century, namely to bring art into people’s lives. Instead, Chernysheva tries to find art in life itself.
In her new series of drawings presented at the 56th Biennale di Venezia, she engages in the transition between natural, cultural, and social. Each drawing contains a text element that further complicates the boundaries between what constitutes human nature and what is domesticated nature.