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Single channel, HD video, colour, stereo sound
5 + 2 AP
Sasha Pirogova’s video is based on the novel by Vladimir Sorokin The Queue, 1983. It portrays the wait Russian citizens had to endure to acquire household goods and basic necessities during the last years of the Soviet regime. Although devoid of the spatial-temporal references that are present in Sorokin’s text (with the exception of the objects that appear in the film), Pirogova articulates a choreography full of meanings that connect with the essence of the writing: micro-stories, relationships, links and interactions arising during the indefinite time of waiting. In the video’s 10-minute duration, the performers’ heterogeneity, their clothes, their appearance and their movements come face to face with the idea of collectivisation suggested by a voice-over, which converts the novel’s dialogues into a monotonous recitative that accompanies the group’s adventures.
Approaching the piece from a conceptual standpoint, the action represented suggests the group’s character —a complex web of psycho-social, economic and cultural factors and meanings—, the forms of power or the rules that limit free human expression. All of these elements should be reflected on critically and politically, be it through art and through any other space for reflection.
The text selected allows the artist to also rethink the queue from a strictly formal perspective: the plasticity and versatility is intrinsic to the issue, as is suggested to us by the child modelling a line of colours. Moreover, the critical weight of the theme implies that, through the performative action, political and social conditionings and cultural symptoms which can be extrapolated to other contexts are crystallised. These include those supposedly free environments where people don’t think through the lens of scarcity, and where, even though there is practically unlimited offer, other deficiencies and deprivations exist.
It is important to underline the ambiguous way in which Pirogova activates the film’s action and interprets the text that she appropriates. It is a ceremony of the absurd, and it serves as a metaphor for collectivisation, as well as a series of meaningful contradictions in the relationship between the individual and society. Independently of the readings the spectators might opt for, the work highlights the duality of a conflict between autonomy and difference, between the individual and the group. Reinforced with a large dose of irony, the nonsensical and the eccentric are presented with traces of reality. Both the performance and the way in which it was filmed —the video itself— find a most appropriate way of bringing forth a critical vision in art.
Blanca del Río