“I see my father as an artist, although he doesn't have an Instagram”

- Tasha Kotsuba is telling about her new exhibition and pseudonyms

March 17 (Tuesday) in Zal#2 an exhibition of Tasha Kotsuba called "HOME" is going to open. The exhibition will be the first of a new project of the New Cultural Initiative “Autumn Salon with Belgazprombank: New Names”. On this occasion, dadalog talked with the artist about pseudonyms, criticism and how it feels - to show your personal experiences in the gallery.

Anastasia: You studied at the Belarusian State Pedagogical School. What is your specialization?

Tasha: I'm a artist-teacher. My specialty is called Art and Drawing. Folk arts and crafts. 

A: And you practiced in Slutsk. Tell about it.

T: After graduation I was not taken to Minsk College "because I look strange". I was teaching drawing and engineering classes. I really liked it. The first two months were hard, but then it turned out to be super comfortable. Both teachers and students welcomed me quite warmly. Although the students scared me, I already had nightmares. It was super scary to give my first lecture, but the students were interested and it was fun. I worked 3.5 hours a day, the rest of the time I was making art, and on weekends I came to Minsk.

The first year everyone tried to find me on social networks, but could not because of a pseudonym. And then I was interviewed by a Slutsk newspaper, and some students and even teachers subscribed to me. Then I was worried about a possible negative reaction, but everything was fine.

A: Why did you decide not to stay there?

T: I realized that I wanted to grow, to try myself in Minsk. Some time after I moved, I had thoughts to come back. It would be easier for me to live in a small city, sometimes go to Minsk to buy materials, see people - and then go back.

A: What are you doing now?

T: I'm getting ready for the exhibition. Really 24/7. I draw, I just want to finish everything and leave to relax for a couple of days and start a new project afterwards.

A: Tell me about Karma Crew. How did you get there?

T: We have a community which is really cool, I feel myself like a part of a family. Earlier I didn't have any artists friends who did not compete with each other, but, on the contrary, we are inspiring each other.

I met Gleb when I was in my fifth year of study. He texted me, we met at a bar and he offered to become part of the team. I thought then: “weird dude, okay.” When he opened the bar, I've painted a piece of the wall there, and then after a couple of months I started hanging out at the Karma bar - and that's all, even now it is my favorite place in Minsk.

A: You had three aliases. Are they all different people for you? What did affect the name change?

T: No, they are one person. I have been called Tasha since 9th grade. At first there was "Hood". I thought it was fun and symbolic like "hood" - "hoodozhnik" (artist in translation from Russian), and then I thought that there could be different interpretations of the word, decided that this was nonsense and came up with "Kapyshon" (Hood in translation from Russian).

My real surname - Kotsuba - I didn't like it before. In the village where I grew up, it was a very popular last name and i felt like my personality was lost. I didn't tell my last name to new friends, only close friends knew. Then I noticed that I started to sign my works with a real last name - so here we are.

A: Is it possible to be an artist without having an Instagram today?

T: Of course. An artist is not a profession, it is a state of mind. I see my father as an artist, and he doesn't have an Instagram. Depends on what kind of goals you have.

A: How do you feel about criticics?

T: I don't feel anything specific about it. I don’t perceive unconstructive criticism from strangers at all, but I react sharply to words from close friends. Things that I put on the canvas - are personal experiences, jokes and comments can hurt me.

A: Who is the ideal viewer for you?

T: Everyone. If people come and look - it's cool.

A: Does art exist for the viewer or for the artist?

T: There is a nice phrase, I don’t remember exactly, but the point is that an artist doesn't exist without a viewer. It exists for both of them. To some extent, we are both creators and spectators.

A: Is there a difference between creativity and art for you?

T: I think there is. It seems that art is something more sublime, and creativity is something more artisanal. But I really like the phrase "love and creativity." And very often I use the word “creativity” when I talk about my art.

A: What is art?

T: Art can be everything. Any item and any action.

A: Your exhibition is about finding home and whether or not to do it at all. Have you found your home?

T: The exhibition consists of seven self-portraits, a short film and installations. One self-portrait is what I look like, and six of them are internal self-portraits. They are quite controversial. I was interested to work on them, each time it was a deep introspection. I was trying to concentrate for every job, delved into myself. And, I think, I was lucky that since childhood I knew that I want to be an artist, and art is my home. But this home is also a controversial concept. In Slutsk, I’m very used to loneliness and now I can’t imagine how it is to let someone into your house. Although I would like to.

A: This is a quite personal exhibition. How do you feel while you're sharing it?

T: Awful. I wanted to leave on the 17th, but I have to go to the opening. There is still a movie interview for about 8 minutes. I hope everyone who watches it, gets inspired, wants to do something: go to work or take a walk. I wish to inspire people.

A: Which artist from the past or present would you like to meet?

T: Picasso, he seemed to be a funny dude, although his work is not close to me. I would also like to meet Lynch, but I love him so much that I'm afraid. I would like this skip this moment when you only get to know each other and feel a bit awkward and go straight to the moment when you sit and drink coffee with together like friends.

A: Favorite piece of art.

T: The book “The Diaries of Susan Sontag” and “The Lonely City” by Olivia Lang. There are five favorite directors, but the most favorite is Sergio Caballero. He has a tough short film - never watch it, and two great films.

A: Give an advice to Tasha from the past and ask a question to Tasha from the future.

T: I would say: “You are doing everything right.” I don't regret anything. If I gave advice, I might not be where I am now. Question for future Tasha: Damn! When will you learn English??