We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 Find out what you need to know before visiting


The trainer



Svetlana Kopystiansky

Russia, United States of America

11 Nov 1950 –

  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    wood, books, sport equipment
    350.0 x 1000.0 x 100.0 cm installed :

    a-kk - 37 wooden bookcases, 84 x 114.5 x 16 cm, each, 8 bookcases 4 rows x 4 rows

    a-kk - 37 wooden bookcases, 84 x 86 x 16 cm, each, 8 bookcases 4 rows x 3 rows

    a-kk - 37 wooden bookcases, 63 x 57 x 25 cm, each, 3 bookcases 3 rows x 2 rows

    a-kk - 37 wooden bookcases, 112 x 39 x 25 cm, each, 18 bookcases 4 rows x 1 row

    ll-nn - 3 hanging bags, 92 x 35 cm, each, height x diam.

    oo-pp - 2 standing bags, 172 x 53 cm, each, height x base diam.

    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Mervyn Horton Bequest Fund 1993
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Svetlana Kopystiansky

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Svetlana Kopystiansky

    Works in the collection


  • About

    The installation ‘The trainer’ 1992 was made for the 9th Biennale of Sydney, ‘The boundary rider’, which dealt with themes of the outsider, borders and exile.

    ‘The trainer’ consists of 37 wooden bookshelves, each filled with books that are turned leaf outwards; three boxing bags suspended between the shelves at equal intervals; and two standing balls. Spanning 3.5 by 10 metres, the large scale of this work lends it a formal association with totalitarian architecture, yet the found elements that it consists of remain immediately recognizable. Coupling gymnastic equipment with books, ‘The trainer’ takes up the tradition of the readymade. Two kinds of objects with disparate functions are combined to form an abstract entity that is not related to either reading or sport. This work has an abstract quality which makes subtle use of colour, tone and texture. ‘The trainer’ has an aesthetic precision that accords with post-minimalist art, and in the artist’s opinion, is “…part of a post-minimalist/post-modern strategy”.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 5 publications

Other works by Svetlana Kopystiansky