SS*SR Video 2018
watch the teaser
Guerilla Gardening Video (13:30) - was inspired by an archival photograph from besieged Leningrad. To survive from hunger people used the city flower-beds to plant vegetables. As it is known now, there was a strict censorship on depicting the everyday life of the city. Only several photographers were commissioned to make stage shots for mostly propagandistic usage. One could see smiling people surrounded by the rich crops, and only statistics of hunger victims could show the real horror behind the scenes.
My performative video depicts a repetitive ritual of harvesting. Conflating a nowadays culture of guerrilla gardening with a historical reenactment, I make interventions in the flower-beds nearby the city recognisable landmarks in several European cities. As a sound work, I recite the excerpts from the Siege diaries, where I take an enumeration of food items which were common for hunger times.
Dumpster Diving Video (10:00) - is departing from an important example of political mythology connected with a history of the Leningrad Zoo, which claims that none of the animals was eaten during the severe times of hunger during the Leningrad Siege. To save the predators, the Zoo’s director invented a method how to trick the animals refusing to consume substitutive forage: he would stuff the rabbit’s skins with grass and sawdust adding a few drops of blood or bones stock.
I was so astonished by the peremptoriness of the statement that the animals have been left intact in the city where people ate people, so I decided to interview the employees connected to the Leningrad Zoo in different times. Their answers affirming the continuous strength of political mythology and mixed with some official information about the death statistics in the Zoo during the Siege, I am using as a sound work.
The conceptual figure of the animal became very important for my work. I see it not only a metaphor of this Stuffed Rabbit mentioned above, I comprehend it as an uncanny figure of the other, which we are afraid to encounter in ourselves. The state of an animal was described by Giorgio Agamben in connection with bare life state, in which displaced human loses its sovereignty. The place of displacement can become a dumpster, a transit zone between civilization and wilderness where still (not in the zoo) one can meet a real animal came from the forest to nourish itself, or a dumpster-diving homeless person suspended in this transitional state between animal and human, or freegans trying to reestablish their human sovereignty by marking their activity as a political act.
Vegetarians Interview Video (41:25) - was made in four countries using four different languages. Here I comprehend language as a “cultural” state whereas hands eating as a “natural” state (for a Westerner). The aim of the interview is to speculate about the freedom of decisions in general: the ground for the choice of not eating meat to the situations of survivalism. What to define as a threshold between the natural and the cultural in the act of devouring and speaking? How does a language as a carrier of common historical past affect this? How flexible are cultural and ethical boundaries when talking about an animal? I want to string these questions one after another embedding myself into a flow of speakers united by a common dietary present.