TO PAUL TO MATTHEW TO PHILLIP
performance, video, installation
11 minutes 07 seconds
Former NATO submarine base Olavsvern
Tromso, Norway, 2015
with Ekaterina Vasilyeva
The green velvet curtain of 12m in height was installed at the end of a submarine dock of about 400m long. It hanged from a cargo crane down to the water, going into the depth of it.
On one of the curtain sides there was a video projection of two hands moving towards each other in a very slow tempo: Hanna’s hand passing a glass of water to Katya's hand. The passage lasted for about 11 minutes.
Simultaneously behind the curtain the same gesture was performed live but in a reverse, mirror-like movement: a glass of water was passed to Hanna.
The project was elaborated as a project in situ in Olasvern in Tromso, Norway, a former NATO naval military base built in a massive fjord during the Cold War. The residence at Olavsvern united 14 Russian and Norwegian artists under the theme “Nothing Will Grow Together Because Nothing Belongs Together”, questioning notions of freedom and control, revising the identity of the place and revealing the imaginary connected to relations between the ex-sides of the conflict.
“Iron Curtain” is an expression, used by Churchill in his Fulton speech, following Goebbels who coined the metaphor in this particular sense in his article “Das Jahr 2000”. The metaphor became a symbol of an epoch of separation, while the “fall of the Iron Curtain” marked the beginning of the Cold War. An image of an enemy appeared, of the Other behind the curtain who doesn’t belong to the place of yours. Guy Debord describes this conflict as a spectacle, where the spectacular images alienate the genuine living and exclude dialogue.
The mirror-structure with illusionary two sides, which is represented in the conflict of Cold War, means that the curtain always has only one side, and the Other who is on the other imaginary side, is actually you, reflected. The curtain as an image of detachment appears in a sense of separation, also bringing to life the idea of disguised, hidden. It is a rupture, a border that creates two sides out of unity. The ambiguity of the Iron Curtain lies in the mutual agreement of both sides to intensify fear and tension.
The passage of a glass of water, a simple ordinary gesture, is one of the basic form of extra-linguistic, primary communication between two humans and at the same time a transmission of the most essential element for life of a human-being. Through meditative choreography of a simple profane and essential gesture a dynamic potentiality of two forces approaching each other is mediated as a general feeling of tension, anticipation through mutual effort of approaching. Then a resolution happens through the passage of an object. But the resolution is not final, the movement is potentially perpetual: transmission metapho- rically continues by the public who follows women from the place of performance to the tunnels.
Giving and receiving of a glass is reminiscent to standardized unified life in common as that of in the base and at the same echoing the Graal image. The passage of the water, accomplished in an extremely slow motion, created a sculpture-like vision of two figures in a uniting dynamics towards each other and turned attention to the subtlety in the context of oppressing grim military environment.