Our existence swings between two pendula – the desire for life and fear of death. It was Nietzsche who equalized these two basic human instincts: desire to survive and longing for power. The world is fragile, and humanity has reached that climax of its evolution when we can destroy our planet completely. What will happen if someone powerful resorts to this opportunity? What will remain of humankind if the reason loses the battle to the primeval aggression? The instincts, Julia Beliaeva claims. The history will go back to its starting point. The savage self-reproducing nature and helpless people will survive.

The start of the war in Ukraine turned Beliaeva’s ecstasy of motherhood into fear for the life of her child. It has brought the comprehension of war as a global catastrophe. XXI century is an era of globalization that has erased the boundaries between the notions of individual and state. People have become closer, information has grown more accessible, the conflicts have become more fatal. The path of progress is growing, however, its direction is still governed by our instincts. A human being does not embody universal harmony, as the humanists consider. On the contrary, people lack harmony. They are torn apart between a tempestuous desire to live and awareness of the uselessness of life. Because death is inevitable.

Beliaeva sees the neon as a symbol of contemporary technocratic and potentially fatal society. The luminescent pipes turn into people who can easily reduce this world to tatters. Also, neon was used by provocative Bruce Nauman who was very active in the period when the polarities of the world ideologies collided. Continuing the legacy of Nauman, Beliaeva asks “What is the essence of art? Is it important in the wake of global problems?”

It is only a human being who decides how to use technologies that humanity itself has created. It is up to a human to decide whether such technologies are used for good purposes or to the detriment of another person. Beliaeva uses Oculus glasses that create virtual reality to bring us back to the golden age of the primeval times. It is the way it was seen by “naive” painter Henri Rousseau. Manipulating contemporary technologies, the painter brings together two words: the technocratic one and the instinctive, blissful and primordial one. One of them embodies the diversity of life, the other brings open danger. The portrait of the painter’s child “The Last Human Baby” represents the primary and only true wish of a human being – to live. It seems it is absurd to live in the aggressive world, torn by armed conflicts and doomed to destruction. However, when one follows the approach of Yulia Beliaeva and perceives this world in aesthetic and sensitive terms, one could find a right way. And it may be art that, being a climax of cultural communication, will be able to put an end to disputes between people.

Maria Vtorushina