Volodymyr and Tatiana Bakhtovs’ (Mykolaiv, Ukraine)
We are a family of artists from Southern Ukraine. We live and work both in Mykolaiv and in our art residence The Bakhtovs’ House in the village of Parutino situated on the bank of the Dnieper–Bug estuary near the ruins of the ancient Greek city-state of Olbia (an archeological reserve) in the Black Sea region of Southern Ukraine.
It was the early spring when quarantine was introduced in Ukraine. Luckily, we have a perfect place for self-isolation: our art villa The Bakhtovs’ House. We built the house ourselves after Volodymyr’s sea-voyage around the Mediterranean as a place where we try to introduce the artistic lifestyle of Southern Europe to the South of Ukraine. Besides the house, there is a large garden that needs tending in springtime. It was another reason to go into self-isolation in the village. Thus, we had our own one-third of the hectare for self-isolation with the addition of the entire space of the archaeological reserve Olbia which was closed for public attendance but not for us as we have worked with the archaeological landscape to create our land-art projects for years. We decided to leave the city for the entire duration of the quarantine and stay at our villa. It was a kind of flight from “plague” as in Boccaccio’s The Decameron.
We invited one of our art-students, Alina Yakushova, to stay with us. So there was plenty of work: our art-projects, teaching Alina, and tending the garden. We were healthy and full of energy, yet we followed the progress of the pandemic in the social networks and knew the last developments in Ukraine. But we did not allow bad news to distract us from our work. We chose not to fear and suffer but keep safe and work. One of the results of this decision is two videos in collaboration with Alina as a model that we present for Quarantine Residency.
Video art. 1.05 min, 1.07 min, 2020
Description of the Work
Our two videos, Prêt-a-porter and Podium, were created during the first stage of the quarantine in Ukraine which began in mid-March 2020. We decided to go to self-isolation at our villa in the village like in Boccaccio’s The Decameron. One of our art students, Alina Yakushova, also came to stay with us.
One day we decided to create a special outfit for the quarantine situation, which combined elements of Eastern and Western dress codes. It was an ironic game with strongly gendered and highly criticized elements of the eastern and western female costume: burka and crinoline. In the quarantine situation, both elements seemed particularly handy as burka could be much more effective than a simple mask, and crinoline would help to keep the social distance. Added by gloves, they constituted an eclectic yet attractive outfit that would allow women to feel protected and look beautiful and mysterious in times when it seems impossible.