Boba Group (Yulia Drozdek, Vasilisa Nezabarom)

Goose House, 2020, performative action

Yulia Drozdek and Vasilisa Nezabarom, the members of Boba Group, moved from Kharkiv to Zielona Góra in the autumn of 2017. One of the things they noticed soon upon arrival was the lack of a river in the city space. After a while, they discovered a small canal called Gęśnik (literally “Goose House”) that runs through the northern outskirts of the city, having a length of 11.11 km and an average depth not exceeding 15 cm. Last year, the mayor of Zielona Góra signed off a project to raise the bed of the underground river, which can radically alter its appearance. Although Gęśnik is not a typical river, Boba Group decided to use it like it is done in other cities, where rivers are spaces of recreation, leisure, and urban life. As part of their performance, they will walk down the entire length of Gęśnik dressed up in goose costumes. This will be streamed live on Instagram @biennalezielonagora and made available to the public via live-location sharing. The project will conclude with an exhibition at the Salony Foundation, featuring artefacts, props, found objects, and video/photographic documentation.

In reference to the Goose House performance, Boba Group will appear during the Returning to… Subjective Narratives panel discussion to present a stand-up performance, in Polish, about their work and their experiences in Poland and in Zielona Góra. A popular Polish proverb says that “Poles are not geese and have a tongue of their own,” which also suggests that one should speak the national language of the country where they live. The artists mock this barrier, dressing up as geese to manifest their own language and artistic method – public-space actionism imbued with a sense of humour and political sensibility, manifested through spontaneous interventions in response to the absurdities, exclusions, current events, and social relations in the public sphere.

Boba Group was founded in Kharkiv in 2012 by Yulia Drozdek (b. 1978) and Vasilisa Nezabarom (b. 1975), who started working together from the moment they met. One of their most successful projects, the series Furniture from Hadiach, won a special prize in the Photographer of the Year 2012 competition. They also stage performances that, verging on the absurd, ridicule the bureaucracy of public institutions and various social anomalies. They have performed in the street, at subway stations, on roofs. The relationship between people and government is an important topic of their practice, and Boba Group have commented through their performances on current political events. The mayor of Kharkiv, an opponent of the Euromaidan, once used Boba Group performance documentation videos, ridiculing the artists’ actions at a specially convened news briefing to discredit the opposition.
Thus contemporary art became subject to political manipulation.