Saturday, May 5, 2007

singing sovietness (BQ galerie,Koln)

The examination of the strategies by which avant garde movement seeks to legitimate by itself is a crucial point in my work. Indeed the emphasis on historical and artistic facts (Lissitky’s drawings for “lenin’s tribune”, and the “Νeuer”, covers from Bolshevik architectural editions, mimicry of flag stands for the international exhibitions) relies upon my need to opposite individuality within ideological systems. Recent practises are based heavily upon an interplay between art and architecture but their underline agony is just to prove that are something more than simple decoration or a functional building. So I “de-define” the homogeneous pulp of the banal “art and architecture” issue.

“Peasants on alert” play with the possibilities of the peasant to resist to the industrialised worker, as modernisation in soviet union was an extremely violent plan. In the cover of “Sovremennaia Arkhitektura” (1930, no 3) Engels says that “The total liberation of humanity from the chains of the past can take place only through the destruction of the opposition between town and village”. In the same cover of the architectural edition Lenin adds that “The predominance of the town over the village, in economic, political, intellectual, and all other relations, is the general and unavoidable feature of all countries with commodity production and capitalism”. The work functions as a metaphor of a space of transition from the agricultural society to the industrialised one. But from the arrangement of materials it appears a certain possibility for resistance to the homogenous culture of bolshevism. I focus in this period where millions of people traveled around the country in order to supply urgently needed labor. The construction offers a logic of juxtaposition between the peasant which as a folk tale, could deny the possibility for its departure to urban centers. As Emma Widdis notes “collectivization sought to transform the organization of the territory, replacing the isolated rural ‘village’ with a semi-industrial “collective farm”. The assemblage from various types of wood and the rigid geometric structure of the main part of the piece make visible the industrial transformation. Bridges between the parts of the construction make connections to the communicative network of bolshevism.

The piece “singing sovietness : what they did to our soul” shows a three-dimensional parody of the Neuer (New Man), one of Lissitzky’s figures design for the Electro-Mechanical Show "Victory over the Sun." «Neurer» stands in a motor which rounds lazily and pathetically while at the same moment we are listening the folk song “I see a darkness” written by Old Oldham. American plots of love and fear are melting with the mechanical movement of the three-dimensional anachronistico-futurist figure which represents the constructivist utopia for Communism. But the country song undermines the triumphalism of the automaton, this time recorded by Johnny Cash, which express a certain fragility in front of a coming “darkness”. The objecthood nature of Lissitzky’s figure which lies at the centre of the construction, is connected to the contemporary attraction of the consumerist product as an animated desired object exhibited to the window- display.

The “rise and fall of the red space army” is a no- monumental homage to the soviet space army, usually represented by giant rocket monuments reaching the sky. This kind scientific propaganda is parodied by a number of three cosmonauts which run, go up and fall within the same spatial mini construction. The symbolisation of the Soviet citizens’ struggle for progress from the agricultural society to the space age is visible to the design look of the cosmonauts. Tiny red arrows on the slice of timbers.

kostis velonis