Trained as a scenographer, Irina Korina (born 1977) does not simply construct large-scale installations, but carefully, bit by bit assembles tangible immersive environments. She appropriates recognisable forms, textures, patterns and materials that have become parts of national and cultural identity and transforms them into readymades. Rows of screenwash bottles under a parasol (Winter Crops, 2014, XL Gallery), endless corrugated aluminum fences that hide garish stained glass panels or fake flower arrangements (Chapel, Saatchi Gallery, 2015; Good Intentions, Viva Arte Viva – the main exhibition of the 57th Venice Biennale, 2017), kilometres of fake façades and multiple temporary edifices and structures that become permanent – by picking out solely the most vivid colours of the everyday palette, Korina accentuates its carnival, fictional essence.
Her sculptural pieces are never void – there is always a fairytale behind the metal fence. The shell is by no means a simulacrum, but a space of hopes and dreams. This was the case with the installation The Tail Wags the Comet (Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, 2017), where an elaborate structure resembling scaffolding concealed a wealth of details (like a perfume amphora or work uniforms in a complete range of sizes, from toddler to plus-size adult), that transported the viewer, like Alice to Wonderland, to a familiar-looking, yet different realm. Another example is the bizarre landcape in Korina's installation Yesterday's Snow (Steirischer Herbst festival, 2018), where the symbols of homeland (for both Russians and Austrians) – idyllic birch trees, meadows and rivers – are presented in the form of giant, diversely shaped inflatables. Korina’s seemingly simple and joyous works capture a very important state when longing for something beautiful collides with disappointment as well as with shameful quiet admiration of the changing face of Moscow as a reality we live in (first Luzhkov’s, now Sobyanin’s, and generally of any absurd landscape), which seems all the more special as it gets deeper and deeper into collective memory, becoming part of our daily experience.