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Critical Practice

Sergei Zinchuk

Sergei Zinchuk is a London based artist, working in a range of media including large scale installations, writing and moving image. Sergei’s work is often informed by architecture and poetics of space, looked through a particular angle of underlying systems and cultural hegemonies: post-communist, post-capitalist, post-human. 

Sergei was born in Ukraine when it was still part of Soviet Union, and emigrated to the UK in 2002. He graduated from Central St. Martins in 2016 in Sculpture, and has been gradually building his practice ever since.

The year of the pandemic, marked by an enforced isolation in a remote countryside location with limited resources, presented an unexpected opportunity for new work: from developing a material out of dust, waste and remnants of maintenance, and weaving it onto 'spatial' looms, to building a kind of transcendent world out of fragments of fictions, memories, rejected imagery and video footage.

My practice is concerned with the idea of in-betweenness and belatedness. What unfolds in transitional environments of human activity: between spectrums’ extremities, between eras and geopolitical antagonisms, between visible and invisible. My  arrival at this enquiry - from  the fringes of hegemonic cultural narratives and sites of their breakdown and transmutation - is never quite timely, and it is in this belatedness that I seek hope, identity, redemption and a challenge to existing systems.

A sense of place - or rather a confluence of person and place  - is almost always a starting point. Through recollecting, recreating,  and reconstructing physical spaces or aspects of their architecture I seek a way of looking at embedded systems of lingering ideologies, mutated cultural influences, echoes of intent. I am interested in how we are defined by the unspoken, mundane or assumed areas of our existence, how we forge our sense of selfhood, belonging and collectivity in the process of placement and displacement. 

My methods combine elements of autofiction and performative production. By staging an interplay between workings of a given system and  poetic narrative I pose questions about received knowledge and its relationship to lived experience. For instance, the most recent body of work challenges ideas of value by inverting the way waste is classified as worthless or abject; and by deploying the historically ambiguous  labour processes, such as weaving - an activity which exists both inside and  outside of formal economic structures but always firmly  at the centre of certain cultural production.

Another approach I am taking is a kind of a world-building project: a place at the intersection of planes and paradigms, of physical and virtual, of current and bygone or looming. My entry point is a world of particles, motes, sparks and spores. I am interested to see how human constructs or experiences - such as grief or an ideology - might manifest in such a microcosm.  How these invisible residues and sediments might be finding their way back into shaping our thinking, through being absorbed by our bodies or perceived somewhere beyond the palpable. Creation of such a place inevitably unfolds virtually as much as physically, and always temporally, and is a laboratory of further investigations, my menagerie of invisible impacts, overlooked mutations and unspoken myths.

To understand moments only half-lived, too close to comprehend in real time, labour is applied to recast them out of what’s left behind - dust collected over time, remnants of materials for maintenance and mending, footage of light that no longer falls in the same place - locking in the elements missed in real time, unnoticed in time, unsaved in time. The process deployed is atavistic, almost parasitic: feeding on the rejected and invisible, reconstituting it for sustenance, colonising the place through its waste and dereliction while being colonised by it in return. 

Voiceover by Hector Harkness


Moving Image


5min 46sec

Dust, ash, saw dust, paint flakes, paper and textile waste, general dirt - matter out of place (Douglas) collected over time of being locked in.  Earlier ideas of the rejected are pushed further into fundamentals of disorder: collecting motes of a utopian ambition and obsessive, grief-driven maintenance. Another performative process is devised - a refraction of traditional  paper-making - where dirt is  given a new materiality - forming a discarded husk of inhabitancy, to be harvested for future weaving.

To reassemble a residue back into a semblance of its origin is a conjuring of sorts. And, perhaps, the only process appropriate to handle such material: not quite learned but imagined, sitting somewhere between family myths and failed industrial ideologies, between creating and multiplying value, between time lived and time saved, between trying to make whole and to produce excess. The result is a belated arrival at seeing, doomed to behold not the thing in itself but its molted skin.


Each Panel 2m x 1m x 0.04m
Collaborators: — Place Exchange - project by Georgina Watson
Collaborators: — Arien Frosh Emma Tighe
Collaborators: — Anita Agarwal Yukako Tanaka