"The Cage"

Anna Zvyagintseva

Year of realization: 2010

Technique: textile, metal

Size: 250 x 200 x 100 cm

The knitted Cage of Anna Zvyagintseva is based on the standard cages installed in Ukrainian court houses to seat the defendant during his or her trial. The artist made the work in 2010 as a response to the political misuse of the juridical system and the prosecution of three members of Hudrada (a curatorial group to which Zvyagintseva belongs) for their social activism.

The work balances between monumentality and disappearance, embodying contradictions like freedom and imprisonment, rule of law and lawlessness and strength and fragility. The knitted material transforms the cage, making it unstable, undermining our expectations of the rule of physical law itself, expectations of independence and reliability. The gesture of knitting, a metaphor for time and patience, emphasizes the role ascribed to women in the re-building and shaping of society.

Cage in 2015 becomes an iconic image for a country that has nearly collapsed under the abuse of the juridical system. It voices the fragile hopes within society that corrupted systems could be replaced and rule of law reinstated. The urgency expressed by Cage reaches beyond Ukraine and its recent history, since it is a challenge that most countries are facing every day: to enforce and protect the idea of the rule of law.

“Hope for me is a one-word question. You want to put a question mark in the title of this exhibition instead of the exclamation mark. Hope is akin to the commonplace phrase ‘Everything will be fine’. This is a transfer of responsibility to somewhere in the future, while you are clearly not happy with the present and the past is not something you can grasp. Otherwise hope can only exist as a finger pointing into the darkness, a certificate of readiness to stand up and go. In that case, there is some responsibility.”

Anna Zvyagintseva

Anna Zvyagintseva. The Cage, 2010, textile, metal

Anna Zvyagintseva. The Cage, 2010, textile, metal