About “Even Further”

Partly, this text is continuation of the work, and it brings in even more confusion, but this work is impossible to narrate. It may be only continued. By restraining myself as the story twists, I will try, as much as possible, to avoid turning my text into poetry, reserving at least some little space for useful information. 

“Embrace reality by imagination”

Austin Osman Spare

Here are some general explanations.

This is the second part of a large trilogy. To put it very simple, in addition to the range of themes, the works in this cycle are linked by a clear principle: the past, present and future.

The first part — “Voice of Thin Silence” — is about the past.

“Even Further”, as one may assume from the title (a certain wish + a direction) is a work on an imaginary future.

That is the work that I was making in Odesa, Kyiv, Gent, Amsterdam, Sainte-Croix, Berlin, Zurich, Stuttgart, Istanbul, Tbilisi, Salonika, Groningen, Antwerp, Bratislava, Chernivtsi and Sadagora. The complex itinerary and the toponyms of cities, rivers and basins make up an ornate pattern the installation is tissued of. 

The story of “Even Further” started by the Golden Gate. As I was having a walk in springtime Kyiv, somewhere between baron Steingel house and the kinasa I started thinking about chance, about discontinued lives, missed opportunities to meet and resurrection as a recovery for that missing. Could people who suffered from different catastrophes imagine that their children would meet once? Where such an encounter could take place? How would the place of their encounter sound?

These questions are key to understand my work.

And the title? Weird as it is? Even Further. No, the Ukrainian version is way more accurate. 

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A screenshot of P Orridge’s Instagram with a photo of the bus

“Yaknaidali”. As if it were a Georgian wine. It is for a reason that I spent several autumn weeks wandering between Tbilisi and Batumi. I could not find the right place for myself, neither could I for the work. I was thinking all the time about that meeting place. I was looking for the right landscape. Desperate, I came to Georgia, along with my friend and partner in new Jewish art. What led me there? For sure, it was much more than mere questing for an appropriate shooting location. I am definitely not Finn from “Palermo Shooting”. What was that? Searching for the “spirit” of Iliazd and his drawings I dreaming crazy about back in Amsterdam? Proximity of Akhtala? Yes, I needed proximity. Akhtala – that little point on the map — did not matter in reality. Proximity of the south, further to the south! Not mountain Georgian techno, Bassiani-Pirosmani, but proximity of Akhtala. Nothing happened. I returned to Kyiv. Even Hagia Sophia, seen from the hotel window in Istanbul, was not the same as before. Only a few moments, short as papier d’Arménie: a drunk scotch reporter — most probably, a spy from Beirut, at that same café Smirna. Second — next morning, I find myself in a taxi, on a bridge, taking me to the world’s biggest airport, and obviously, arabesque was playing in the cab. Even further from myself. A trip inwards, on a fancy bus.

“Even Further” – it is Even Furthur – “As Coil, Current 93 and Nurse With Wound, for the most part of the 1980s, were thoroughly exploring the darkest and most dangerous aspects of the TG legacy, Psychic TV (which, probably, is what MDMA should be also thanked for) shifted to a tribal, gregarious declaration of war on humanity and engaged in a full psychedelic (or rather hyperdelic) merry prankster cheerleader mood: sex, magic, substances (when PTV toured in the US in late 1980s, they had a magic bus on which it was written “EVEN FURTHUR”, a phrase echoing the original slogan from the 1960s “Merry Pranksters”) (from Psychic Bible).

In the exhibition version of the work, the inscription on the bus is simply not visible. As invisible remain the badges of the tourists in that same video, the design of which is worth paying attention. 

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A badge for the group of tourists from “Even Further”

As far as possible is a free back translation of the phrase “even further”. The background for that inscription is a Caspar Friedrich’s painting. And what if those are not two brothers, but two Hasidaeans, standing on a cliff and looking into the distance? On the one hand, two men standing at the precipice are admiring romantic misty distant places that are full of mystery. They appear to be taken not only by deep reflection, but also realizing some enigma: a world of divine infinity. The painting combines real and fancy.

On the other hand, the two contemplating men seem to be thrown into some endless world: they are too lonely here. In this wild nature, with the mysterious mountain light shining, men are weak, facing the natural power of the universe. 

All that multitude of details that make up the scope of the work is given only as hints or suffixes for definition words. So, what does the work look like? 

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Nikolay Karabinovich, “Even Further”, 2020. Courtesy PinchukArtCentre © 2020. Photo by Maxym Bilousov

The installation relies on music, video and text. These elements complement each other and comment, being under a certain tension, like nails to which a string is attached or like a river flowing across three capitals. 

Music, video and text. Like a genie from a bottle with three wish sisters. Three plus one: (the viewer is an invisible and irregular element). This story can be started from any “element place”. I will start from the music. I like music. There is a tune, it is a Greek or Jewish song. Yoshke furt avek or Magkiko. You might have heard that song, popular several years ago, performed by Yuri Gurzhi. Or even by Filipp Kirkorov. Adela Peeva must have not known about it. The original tune was written about 110 years ago. Who was the first to write it? How far are these songs from each other? Extremely! The Greek version is about unrequited love. The klezmer one is about seeing off a young man to the 1905 Russian-Japanese war. The same sequence of notes provokes such different feelings. And what could be actually happening between people performing that tune? The history of diasporas of Ukraine’s south is a grey and little explored area. It is better to put it like this: it is not customary to talk about that. Who cares about history of the truly multicultural Odesa now? Maybe a bunch of local history trickster experts. Shall I join them.

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Newspaper “Jewish History”, 1911 

Another minor detail that is important to understand this work and the depth of references and quotes in my overall method: the found article about the 1821 Jewish pogrom that was provoked by rumours about Jews who had killed the patriarch in Constantinople. 

By the 1950s, there was no trace remaining of those stories. There was no more man to sing the famous tune. The Holocaust and Stalin repressions. Perhaps, the slopes and cliffs of Kuyalnik were the last meeting place for most of those people. That was the case for my family for example. 

In the room where the work is exposed, this tune is played by a clockwork music box, hit by a ray of light coming from a white square on the ceiling. It might seem that the source of the light is a window leading to the roof. 

One winding of the music box runs for precisely 9 minutes. At the beginning, the tune sounds loud, then the spring gets loose and slowly, it fades.

Winding the music box to make the tune play, is not it a weird ceremony or rite that makes you experience the event again and again?

And what would Claude Levi-Strauss say in this respect? Levi-Strauss who treated music with privilege and called it “the supreme mystery of the science of man”, regularly stresses on metaphorism of its language. Myth, just as music, “operates with conscious approximations of truths” and reflects man’s national attitude to reality (from an article on Paradzhanov).

This tune becomes a soundtrack for a film shot in a single take. 

An “event” is of mythical nature there. 

In a continuous search for the place, I even found by chance a village called Celiko, situated in Calabria. Chelik and Celico, two places connected by a vacillating thread of history. Roll the dice. Odessia is a barren scheme. To find the place, there was no need to go far. Obviously, there is the sea in Odesa, and there are lots of suitable places, but I needed something way more subtle. A coastal lake.

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One of possible locations for shooting in Odesa, Karolino-Bugaz, December 2019

After all that wandering, it became obvious to me that a salt lake, Kuyalnik is the place. 

Let’s imagine a coastal lake side. Probably fog, grey early morning.

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One of possible locations to shoot the video, Kuyalnik, December 2019

No, it will be done differently. A sunny day in January. A green field somewhere near, so that it is not clear what season it is. A cliff. Obviously, there must be a cliff in the frame. The camera should be placed at the top, on the cliff. 

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A frame from the final video. “Even Further”, 2020, 15’12, 4K

A bus appears in the frame. It is a tourist bus. A guide gets out of the bus, she holds a leaf in one hand (well, yes, the branch from “Voice of Thin Silence”), and in the other, a sheet, a paper with text. A group of people gets out of the bus after her. Are they tourists? Maybe. Having stopped by the water, they listen attentively to the guide for several minutes. Then, they return to the bus. The bus leaves, leaving behind the same view: water afar and a tree moved by the wind. 

A desert landscape, for 9 minutes. 

One may have an impression that it was a mirage. 

Sergei Paradzhanov said:

“Cinema is mainly rhythm: breathing in and out in infinite sequence.”

Breath holding takes place here, for 9 minutes.  As if nothing ever happened. Only the tree and the cliff.

The cliff is virtually a mountain!

Move any mountain!

“A trip to Mount Analogue may be considered also as movement along the inner landscape of experience, becoming different, as real as any physical experience.” A philosophical perspective on the landscape is needed here. There are no waves on Kuyalnik. 

Along the waves of my memory. The only thing that remains in memory is the tune.

Will we never know what happened there and who all those people are? (Greetings, Yaroslav!).

An elusive monument to the tune, a place of pilgrimage for odd tourists.

Future is a random encounter with past.

Actually, a short stop can be made here.

Events occur beyond time and beyond place. The principle of inverted perspective, an image illuminated with back projection – this is now about exposing this work.

From nowhere to nowhere, and even further. 

And finally, the last element of “Even Further”: a text, an odd fairy tale, a myth in three alternating languages. 

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Nikolay Karabinovich, “Even Further”, 2020. Courtesy PinchukArtCentre © 2020. Photo by Maxym Bilousov

Yet, back projection. So that nothing sticks out. 

Shall we remember Walter Benjamin?

A trivial plot becomes a base for a myth. 

A myth based on a chance. Literally, one that emerged out of nothing. A myth is at the base of this tune. This tune sounds in taverns if Piraeus sung by port workers drunk with ouzo and the sunset, and at a small railway station near Vinnytsia, sung by a weeping Jewish mother.

The dramatic composition of this work is constructed in such a way that a viewer spends at least 15 minutes in it.

Otherwise, you may miss the thread of the tale, or literally, the event will not happen. This would be similar to shooting this landscape with a very long optical exposure. There would be no trace left of that weird guided tour.

This work has provoked an interesting feedback in the local media: I happened to see articles focusing on the formal side of visual solutions in my installation, and there were hints of tentative reproaching on the subject of “repetition”. Going forward, I would say that repetition is hardly possible in general. I think, one should look a bit further. Once, as I read a review on one of the films by my beloved Bunuel, I sank into exploration of repetition concepts. Please re-watch “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie”. I will try to explain: this repetition is like drinking out of a Klein bottle. It is appropriate to mention Deleuze here: repetition is actualization of existence as difference. Alternatively, Kierkegaard may also be mentioned, chosen by Alain Robbe-Grillet for an epigraph for his “Repetition”: “Repetition and recollection are the same movement, only in opposite directions, for what is recollected has been: it is repeated backward, whereas repetition properly so-called is recollected forward.” In his “Difference and Repetition”, Deleuze writes: “If repetition exists, it expresses at once a singularity opposed to the general, a universality opposed to the particular, a distinctive opposed to the ordinary, and instantaneity opposed to variation, and an eternity opposed to permanence. In every respect, repetition is a transgression. It puts law into question, it denounces its nominal or general character in favour of a more profound and more artistic reality.”  “If repetition exists, it expresses at once a singularity opposed to the general, a universality opposed to the particular, a distinctive opposed to the ordinary, and instantaneity opposed to variation, and an eternity opposed to permanence. In every respect, repetition is a transgression. It puts law into question, it denounces its nominal or general character in favour of a more profound and more artistic reality.”  Yes, that is right, two times in a row, for you to understand. I am browsing my notes further, again, and there is a proper quote!

“Deleuze also wrote that Fellini had the concept of “pure recollection”: about things that never took place and for that very reason, they take place again and again. About ourselves, about the endlessly-totally-desperate theatre of life where everything repeats as a matter of fact (because the base for playing is actually repetition). “A Moveable Feast” that you miss yet, and have always missed (just like the present-absent Marcello at the gathering in “Dolce Vita”).”

EPILOGUE

There are many unanswered questions left: why not 4:3 ? Why not that colour? Yuri Leiderman knows answers to these and other questions. Or the red tent captain. I do not know, or it is hard for me to say. Yes, (you may) call him Ismael. Does an artist have to answer those questions?

Theo Angelopoulos believes that he or she does not. “Poetry deals with music and illusions. Do you need to interpret what you have seen and to necessarily understand what it means? May a film remain unexplained. Like music that sounds in silence.”

And I would like to end this small memo with a wonderful poem by Eduard Bagritsky. 

So hit the veins,

            Go to extremes, 

Homeless youth,

            My rage! 

So that human blood

            Showers like stars, 

So that one rushes against the universe 

            Like a gunshot, 

So that rampant people

            Sing in waves, 

So that the despiteful song 

            Deforms mouth,—

And to sing, out of breath,

            In the desperate vastness:

«Hey, Black Sea,

            Good sea..!».