Russia’s ‘Weld Queen’ Wows

Human Rocking Chairs

One of Ivleva’s recent shows at the Zverev Center in Moscow was dedicated to rocking chairs — about 15 of them. To top the event, the artist welded one chair right there using an air extraction system to keep it safe. A man posed for the chair.

“The sculpture was called ‘Casanova’,” Alexei Sosna, director of the center, told The Moscow Times. “It was a man lying down, and it took her several days to do. It was beautiful. Visitors laughed and applauded when they watched her work,” he said. He had invited Ivleva because he was fascinated by her method – heavy metal objects and a welding machine on the one hand, and precise work that was like a jeweler’s touch on the other hand.

“That’s the principle of pop art — when a material or technique gets a new dimension. She can create whatever she wants with this method, from iron bears to models of jet planes. Her works can grace both parks and factory grounds,” Sosna said.

Art All-In

Ivleva needed courage, especially at first, to pursue her art. She calls this process ‘art all-in,’ meaning that there’s no time to wait for grants and fellowships, which in the case of her work, would never be enough to cover even expenses for materials.

“On average, my sculptures cost 400,000 rubles (around $6,500). That’s for rocking chairs. And that’s not expensive. But the average price of an art object in Russia is around 80-130,000 rubles ($1,200-2,000), and museum grants rarely exceed 50,000 ($900),” Ivleva told The Moscow Times.

To fund her work, she took out bank loans for the first 18 months. Production of her works is expensive, and the loan of $1.5 million rubles ($25,000) ran out in four months. But luckily, when the loan ran out, buyers came in.

“To be a sculptor in this country is to have no fear. There’s nothing bigger for me than making these objects. The fact that I believed in my ideas back then still drives me forward,” she said.