Alexandra Sukhareva’s methods of artmaking derive from her interest in illuminating the unseen capacities of our material and emotional worlds and exploring convergences among matter, language, and cognitive gestures. Her works locate a tranquil excitement in the interactions of substances and thoughts and approximate in vitro chemical reactions. With an intuitive openness and understanding of art as a collective mode to journey between aggregate forms, she creates conditions for her chosen materials, historic references, and collaborators to interact and transform in order to understand “mental habits,” the phenomena by which collective and personal psychic forces affect the material world.
In 2010, Sukhareva began experimenting with inorganic chemicals, working on large canvases that she burned with chlorine, a popular and powerful disinfecting agent, which also served as the basis for chemical weapons during World War I. This highly toxic substance induces a reverse painterly effect: it carves, scours, and cleans the surface rather than add new material layers to it. Sukhareva then introduces cut-out scraps of canvas and pasted circles to the vector-like lines left by the chlorine corrosion. Emerging from workshops with the artist’s friends and family, the canvases collide materials, minds, and memories into collages of associative narratives. They are “records” of daytime and nighttime visions, references to which appear in the work’s titles, like Case of Bestial Boredom (2015–16) and Coral in the Mouth (2015).
In Sukhareva’s practice, corrosion plays an integral part not only on a technical level but a poetical one as well. She interrogates oxide reactions as metaphors of recording and memorializing to reverse the chemical terminus technicus of the process that often suggests radical or chemical decay. It is the immanence of material memory, the traces of encounters between matters that ground her work, for “unlike man, things carry within themselves all their ‘memories’ simultaneously.”