One Answer

  1. Spring 2014, Moscow Manege, exhibition “Golden Age of Russian avant-garde”. My journey into the world of modernism and my first introduction to video art.

    The author of the exhibition, film director Peter Greenway, has done a large-scale job, raising the Moscow art space to the same level as New York and Berlin. Greenway would later point out with irony that the exhibition reflects not only a turning point in Russian culture, but also “the advanced state of museology in Moscow.”

    18 suspended screens that turned the Manege hall into a high-tech kunstkamera. Cinematography, animation, 3-D, archival footage and staged filming, canvases of the early XX century – and all this is layered on top of each other. The simultaneous use of multiple screens as an artistic device reveals new facets of paintings and sculptural objects. With the help of multimedia technologies, Greenway managed to “revive” more than a thousand masterpieces of the Russian avant-garde. Synchronized images connected by one idea have created a new architecture of the “educational program-intensive” format. They made a huge layer of Russian (and world) culture accessible for imaginative cognition.

    It was as if you were on a chessboard, or on some kind of Olympus, where digital gods argue over you, open up and reflect. Kandinsky denied plotting in painting and arrogantly advised to look for it in literature, the energetic Eisenstein talked about montage as a new language, and Mayakovsky, after minting his “Cloud in Pants”, pathetically addressed his Lilichka. Incredible polyphony, close-up, textured faces. Direct contact with the viewer, animating the text. It's like a monologue interview recorded in a confessional.

    Pausing between these huge squares, it was as if Big Brother from Ridley Scott's Apple ad was talking to you (fortunately, no one was going to smash the screen with a huge hammer) – only what was depicted was not ominously repulsive, but a lively, attractive and exciting experience. Images of the people of those days surrounded you, engaged in a dialogue with each other, and you literally found yourself inside the space of memories, arguments about art and revolution, love triangles, hopes and their collapse.

    Picture and sound worked in a complex tandem, which would be the envy of sound engineers “Khrustalev, machine” and “It's hard to be a God”. The voices did not merge into a featureless hum, did not interfere with each other – the work with the audio component was done as brilliantly as with the visual, although the screens were located in close proximity to each other. The effect was appropriate – you believed that you were looking at real people, not flat cardboard boxes.

    Listen to Greenway's interview about the exhibition itself and watch excerpts from it here.

    In general, Peter Greenway is a master of visualization. If we talk about his films, they are absurdist-surreal, in which the frame is supplemented with all sorts of elements – geometric shapes, diagrams, maps. Like an architect's desk. And all this organically fits into the fabric of the narrative, into the very flesh of the picture. It is important to emphasize that Greenway believes that modern people suffer from visual illiteracy and fiercely fights against it, combining the physiological and aesthetic in their works, whether they are films or expositions.

    If you are not already familiar with Greenway, I suggest you correct this by following the list below:

    • Zed and two zeros (this movie you will advise everyone who has a strong stomach and strong psyche)
    • (Prospero's books are the best Shakespeare you've ever seen)
    • Goltzius and Pelikanya Company (intelligent video art as it is)
    • Eisenstein in Guanajuato(a scandalous and funny film about the legendary director may lead to regret about what Soviet cinema could have been like if it had been free)
    • Draftsman's contract (for those who love “Sherlock” with Cumberbatch and have a rough taste for painting)

    And here you can read about the director's style and artistic principles – in the essay itselfSt. Petersburg.

Leave a Reply