Yakov Kazhdan

KazhdanYakov Kazhdan was born in 1973 inMoscow.
He is a permanent participant in the city’s Pusto street festival of video art – and also took part in the first, second and third Moscow biennales (2005, 2007, 2009, special projects).
He was a prizewinner at the Izolenta International Festival of Digital Film ( St. Petersburg, 2006) and a nominee for the Innovation prize (2007).
Kazhdan’s works feature in Moscow museums as well as Russian and Western private collections.


The total installation IWash MyHands harks to the tradition of critical pessimism of the 19th century, and creates a powerful metaphor of modern man’s manic cleanliness complexes. This manic complex is directly tied to the historical heritage of western civilization. Germany and many other western societies have built their identity on guilt complexes since World War Two. The guilt complex is based on geopolitical events that contributed to growing global tensions. Now present on the genetic level, it continues the tradition of oppression and injustice that drives the paradigm of Western humanism on which democratic civilization is based. IWash MyHands precisely diagnoses this historic pandemic, and it tests the level of freedom to avoid responsibility and the ritual suppression of guilt.
With reference to the moment in the Bible when Pontius Pilate washes his hands of Jesus’ approaching execution, this artwork reveals a secret of the eschatonic meaning of the everyday ritual, which eventually becomes an obsessive habit that grows into a psychological complex and latent hysteria. The film creates feelings of anxiety that continue in a mirror reflection and become a projection of eternal guilt onto the viewer himself. Illusory objects in the form of pieces of used soap turn out to be stone monuments to paranoia when touched; it’s mechanical, not based on thought.
The perfect cleanliness of the space literally collapses peremptorily, with axiomatic accusations on all western civilization, whose prosperity is based on colonial blood and wars, continually in need of helpless legitimization, and which can’t exist without humanistic suppression of guilt for what happened and still goes on.

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