Russian art and philosophy is certainly a strong influence for the former University of Minnesota sculpture professor, who splits her time between New York and the former Russian capital of St. Petersburg, exhibited work in the Moscow Biennale in 2013 and grew up watching the films of Andrei Tarkovsky ("Solaris").
"When I was young, the one place in the world I dreamed of going was Moscow," said Stanislav. "Was it [because of] a movie? Artwork? I grew up around a lot of coffee-table art books and my mother pushed me to go to art museums at a young age."
While she often gets a bit of a pass from Russian curators because of her surname, Stanislav actually is an "Eastern European mutt," as she terms it. Born in Chicago, she grew up in a family of musicians with a Czech father and a mother of mixed Eastern European heritage.
The sculpture, photomontages, collages and video work in the show that's up through Feb. 27 draw inspiration from Russian Cosmism, a school of thought that emerged before the 1917 Revolution, imagining a world driven by technological advancements and interplanetary travel.
The immersive exhibition centers on questions of space exploration, human construction, imagined futures of a blissful Utopia or a Dystopian downfall. Polarities are a theme, as well — a way to investigate the failures of empires, and the dark truths that lie beneath seemingly beautiful objects.
"Vanishing Points" (2008), a giant headless rhinestoned horse sculpture that spins on a circular mirror pedestal, is at once enticing and repulsive. The glitter and spikes draw the viewer in, only for them to realize that it's been decapitated, a mirror placed over the slice where its head used to be.
While monumental works dominate the show, a series of collages and resin-embedded glitter and enamel paintings create space for reflection.
"Solaris V" is a circular, glittery orb, like a glowing star in a far-off galaxy, painted against a black background. In "Shifter VI," an astronaut, an upside-down white horse and a tiled surface, among other objects, dash through a burst of holographic film.
In "Pink Cube" (2014), a white, fallen taxidermied dove rests on a pink mirror cube, a seer of history, a witness to what man has done. The work also references a famous photo of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, holding a dove as a symbol of peace.
"The animals in my work are sometimes stand-ins and symbols for something more mythological," said Stanislav, "but the animals are also sort of dead and resurrected in a sculptural way."
In "Troika" (2021), three headless wolves — with slices of pink mirror where their heads used to be — dance in a circle around a hanging mirror ball that signifies Russia's Sputnik, the first satellite launched into space. On the ball, there's a phrase in Russian: "The fairy tale has become true" — a mantra during Gagarin's time.
"The Sputnik-scaled orb is responding to this utopic idea of space travel, referencing literal slogans during Soviet times," said Stanislav.
"Walk through the exhibition, and you start with this statement that says 'the fairy tale has come true,' and it ends in the video gallery with everyone being resurrected on Mars, the dancers and the horse."
Stanislav was referring to a three-channel video, "Surmatants — Mars Rising," that she made during the pandemic.
As viewers watch the 10-minute piece, they become the center of a Slavic folk dance circle. By the end of the video, the dancers fall down and reappear on Mars. The white horse seen throughout the exhibition also figures prominently, with a masked woman eventually riding away on it.
"I have positioned Death on the horse, taking from a 15th-century plague image of the dance macabre ... and making it into this female," said Stanislav. "She rides away and ends up on Mars, like a plague science-fiction video."
Andréa Stanislav: Cosmist Reconstructions – Memories of Earth
Where: Museum of Russian Art, 5500 Stevens Av. S., Mpls.
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10-4 Sat., 1-5 Sun. Ends Feb. 27.
Admission: $5-$14, free for ages 13 and under.
Info: tmora.org or 612-821-9045.