Anthology of Russian Video Art



In the 1990s, a new language, the language of video, charmed artists in Russia and central and eastern Europe. Since then, we can consider the burgeoning development of video art as a new and highly striking process of juxtaposition, experiment and synthesis in the sphere of art. By gaining access to video, many artists were united by a desire to rediscover reality, without changing their own language. The advent of the video camera was associated with the arrival of freedom. It simultaneously brought reality nearer and pushed it away, and by compressing the visible and blurring the desired it created a multi-layered video archive and coded time. The modern visual experience is a vast category and it becomes more difficult to determine what is cinema or video art, and what is media art (film critic Marko Müller). An interesting phenomenon exists on the fine line between cinema and contemporary art: the problem of “another” vision. Writers suggest that the line between the real and the virtual is erased and that artists work with the tactility of their art to influence all sensory perceptions. The program includes works by video artists who investigate this new video language. Time is interwoven into the video narration, and the technology chosen by the artists becomes the medium that transforms space and narrative to create a mental map—a landscape, memory, consciousness, and our inner world. The compilation Anthology of Russian Video Art is the first in Russia with professional research on the development of Russian domestic video art. Films presented in the program as well as in the anthology reflect the following themes: video and text; video and performance; video and television; video and cinema; video and media; and video and sound.

Maxim Zonov

3’ | VHS - Mini DV | Color | Stereo

2000

Screening format: Standard-definition digital video

Russian Federation

Trouble TV

The narrative problem is about the main achievement of human communication—TV set. Art activity serves as a means for realization of social sexual-food complexes.

Vadim Koshkin

3’ | Betacam | ByN / B&W | Stereo

1994

Screening format: High-definition digital video

Russian Federation

Brain Parasites

Vadim Koshkin, a pupil of Vladimir Kobrin, has in inherited in many ways the “handwriting” of his teacher, which is evident in his artistic style and his interest in problems in the life of the person in his modern technological information space. A new peculiar focus of the subject Vanitas (Vanity of Vanities), popular with painters of the 17th century, is now converted to new realities and implemented by means of new technologies. Koshkin’s video was created with the help of computer mounting. His subject is not represented as a stiff and mournful speculation about the caducity of existence and the vanity of efforts, but rather as an exposure of precipitance of a vital flow to a person where everything is now transformed into information units, thus overflowing consciousness with the infinite flowing.

Timur Novikov

3’ | VHS | Color - B&W | Stereo

1993

Screening format: Standard-definition digital video

Russian Federation

Rising, Submarine, Penguins, Plane

Shutov and Novikov’s work is deliberately infantile and naïve, which contradicts the huge panels of hardly distinguishable images with a peculiar irony, that is characteristic of post-modernist art. It demonstrates the combination of local opinion of “low culture” with naïve symbolism to create a heraldic language. Video animation becomes an already peculiar emancipation of plots of Timur Novikov, where figures of characters turn into aloof entities.

Studio of Egocentric Features

5’30’’ | Hi8 | Color | Stereo

1994

Screening format: Standard-definition digital video

Russian Federation

System of Own TV

The movie System of Own TV introduces the video project “Person, Word, TV,” which was produced by Studio of Egocentric Features. The artists’ concept of Studio is close to a series of art projects of Gehry Shim of the beginning of the 1970s, “Landart” and “TV-gallery” which are carried out in TV-space, new to the artist, and emphasizing unity of the artist and work of art. The idea uniting artists from different countries and generations was reduced to only one concept: “On the television the artist can reduce the work to expression of a position, the simple gesture corresponding to his concept. The trinity of the unity of the concept, the visual embodiment and the artist who has generated this idea becomes a work of art” (Gehry Shim).

Alexey Isaev

5’ | Hi8 | Color | Stereo

1994

Screening format: Standard-definition digital video

Russian Federation

Dance & Video

These video is conceived as video documentation of the Russia’s First International Festival of Experimental Video, Computer Animation and Projective Synthesis. The festival took place in a squat in Petrovsky Boulevard in March, 1994. Movies Videostsenary, Dance&Video—part of Russia’s first video catalog—are documentation of that festival. Dirigie, desde 2000, los programas “Media of the Forum” del Moscow International Film Festival.

Sergey Shutov

4’ 9’’ | VHS | Color | Stereo

1994

Screening format: Standard-definition digital video

Russian Federation

What a Surprise - Such silence

The video piece by Sergei Shutov from the 1990s in which Soviet films are edited with the help of modern computer technology in order to create an “other vision” from a science-fiction film with a strange situation in which a stranger is sitting in front of a television. Sergei Shutov’s video, in the aesthetics of MTV, was made well before the introduction of the TV giant MTV. The experiments of Shutov with image and sound in this work are merged together in order to demonstrate the absurdity of the influence which the TV mediator has on the viewer.

Dmitry Gutov

8’ 30’’ | Hi8 | Color | Stereo

2000

Screening format: Standard-definition digital video

Russian Federation

Demonstration

The events of Radekovets are supposed to interfere with a natural social landscape, in order to change of its sense. On transitions there is an accumulation of the people waiting for green light. There are con only five people with banners which would go ahead of the crowd to turn the street crossing to a demonstration. A demonstration is already a social event of other sense, a plot for news, “snack for mass media.” The basis of Radekovets is a provocation against modern reality which is possible through the “cinematic”. It is possible to compare what was made by artists with Kuleshov’s installation (i.e. the mood and value of ordinary action changes depending on the context in which it is located).

Elena Kovylina

15’ | Betacam | Color | Stereo

2001

Screening format: Standard-definition digital video

Russian Federation

Waltz

The performance was made in Berlin in Volker und Freude gallery in connection with the exhibition devoted to Robert Rauschenberg. A scene of action is a spacious hall with eclectic architectural details, with a stone floor and mirrors which doors leave in a garden. There is a table close to an entrance on which there are about 39 glasses of vodka and which also displays Soviet military awards. “Trophy” music is playing. The artist, dressed in a black knee-length gown (a neutral dress), invites someone from the audience to dance with her. After several detours on the hall with the partner, she drinks vodka, breaks a glass against a floor and pins one of the awards to herself. Partners change, the artist gets drunk while the floor is covered with broken glass.

Platon Infante-Arana

3’ | Mini DV | B&W | Stereo

1995

Screening format: Standard-definition digital video

Russian Federation

Homourbanas

Despite the small clip that is Homourbanas, it is still a full film. All arsenal of graphic means of cinema and video (parallel mounting, effects of animation) is involved in it. The artistic image is a result of mixing several clear visual quotes. Although performance is rather important, it still is only one of the tools to create a kinoform. The concept of the clip describes this video work in the best way. Using the mix method, the artist designs the artificial world which is similar to those created for music videos or advertisements. Such a world assumes an irrational and sensual method of perception and its form is a result of the development of an aesthetics of modernism. The genre of such a video can be determined as a screen.

AES+F

5’ 30’’ | Betacam | Color | Stereo

1998

Screening format: Standard-definition digital video

Russian Federation

Who Wants to Live Forever?

The criticism of global media system is the main concept divided by AES. A photo series and video, Who Wants to Live Forever draws attention not only to mass media sources, which exploit sexual scandals and deaths of celebrities, but also the exhibitionist behavior of the famous. As Woody Allen once said, “the highest achievement in the career of a star when one doesn’t create anything, except the image of his/her own face on the screen, is his/her death”.

Dmitriy Bulnygin

2’ 15’’ | 35 mm - Mini DV | Color | Stereo

2000

Screening format: Standard-definition digital video

Russian Federation

Lola

The work Lola is a performance for the camera. The style of the film (the fixed camera, absence of a montage, an original sound) emphasizes authenticity of action. Lola can be classified as an intimate art diary which, for example, can be seen in the frank action of the artist in front of the camera. A very widespread genre of video, which in English is called “acting out,” used, for example, by Vito Acconci, Roman Signer, and from an artist from the 1990s, Pyerik Soren. The genre is provocative because of the frankness of its action, and at the same time, on a deeper subconscious level, it researches different psychological, cultural, and social realities.

Blue Noses

3’ 45’’ | 35 mm - Mini DV | Color | Stereo

2000

Screening format: Standard-definition digital video

Russian Federation

Series of Performances

Men in protective pea jackets and gray soldier’s caps with earflaps, and blue plastic caps from large mineral water bottles covering their noses. Is it a construction battalion? Is it a demobee on a guardroom whether they are “temporarily delayed” in a pre-trial detention center? In the background there are two-storey plank beds, wooden benches, a wooden desktop, and a wooden door with a window for distribution of food. There is nothing to do. They absolutely don’t care. Therefore with enviable commitment these men dramatize “video performances”. The distributing window has turned into a screen of a puppet theater. Absurd sketches from army and prison life serve as a catalyst for a discourse of modern art. In absence of the audience, the actors become the audience.

Viktor Alimpiev

5’ 24’’ | HD | Color | Stereo

2010

Screening format: High-definition digital video

Russian Federation

“Vot” (So)

In short film Vot, five actors perform a composition formed by speech. Synchronization—a moment of harmony in this performance—occurs when the Russian word vot is pronounced and a length of singing is similar in musical and compositional logic to vot.

Taus Makhacheva

7’ 21’’ | HD | Color | Stereo

2009

Screening format: High-definition digital video

Russian Federation

Rehlen (Avar Language Flock)

Rehlen is shot in between mountain villages Tsada and Ahalchi, Republic of Dagestan, it has a simple narrative: a young man is wearing a traditional sheepskin coat timug, usually worn by shepherds, and he attempts to scramble as close as possible to the flock of sheep. A literal interpretation of this work concerned with local nature or traditional cultural symbols, has a supportive function towards the content of the work—a question, “What is the goal behind performers’ actions?” Rehlen deals with problem of social relations that demand consent with certain rules and regulations for social and cultural integration. This work is about what we are ready to do in order to become a part of community.

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