2022, Sky Assault

video, sound

7 min.

An individual is weak in the face of historical shocks. History unfolds parallel to the trajectories of our lives, but someday can easily cross them out or redefine them. Major societal upheavals in the moment are hard to describe; they remain ineffable in terms of experience. Everything we say and think is more like a pale representation of what is happening. What remains available to us is the totality of our feelings and the opportunity to witness the unfolding catastrophe.

Expansion has been the motive for several centuries of Russia’s statehood: whether it was the annexation of new lands, the exploration of space or the development of official culture and science. All of the above-mentioned are integral parts of the imperial history of the state which claims to perform one of the leading roles in the world order. In such a process, millions of lives remain unnoticed, but the images of the heroes of different times are imprinted in the collective memory. A famous soviet writer Varlam Shalamov characterizes the 20s of the last century as the best years of his life, the time of the highest and most significant creative rise. He called this time “sky assault” and at the same time “a huge lost battle for the actual renewal of life”. The place that the viewer sees in the video is a forest near the village of Novoselovo in Vladimir region. It is known as the place where Yuri Gagarin’s airplane crashed. Gagarin’s image is used as a uniting symbol for numerous citizens of post-Soviet territories. Once Gagarin became a representation of the joint achievements of a huge country, but today it can no longer be viewed so unambiguously. The life paths of Shalamov and Gagarin are not actually intertwined, but they are linked as two facets of the history of the empire that shaped these people and left an imprint on their destinies.

The video originates from a single photographic frame. It is a brief moment stuck in time, unfolding in its own temporality, which does not correspond to everyday life. Thus, an event that leaves an indelible trace can create a distorted sense of the flow of time and perception of space in the perception of the witness.