Tatiana Grigorenko’s work focuses on the relationship between individuals and their worlds within a social-political context. She was born in the US to a family of Soviet political dissidents. History, especially the history of repression, is central to her practice. Grigorenko is interested in how one navigates and emancipates one’s body, identity and memory from the context of predefined social models and “official” histories, discourses and hegemonic narratives. Through collage, photography, video and text, her work examines revolt, resistance, power dynamics and their common underlying thread, the search for utopia.
As a child, Grigorenko was steeped in the atmosphere of a very particular dark humor of the Soviet “anecdote.” In St. Petersburg, she worked on a video project entitled Small Acts of Sabotage (How I Proved I Was Not a Camel). In a series of short interviews, ordinary people recounted an experience of their resistance to the Soviet system, in the form of a humorous anecdote. Small Acts of Sabotage made use of the Russian tradition of “anecdotes” to obliquely poke fun at and reveal the absurdity of a given system’s rules and regulations.