03.02.24, 19:00 – 03.02.24, 21:00

Between the Fugue and the Origin

Talk/Discussion with Maxim Spivakov & Egor Rogalev (curated by Andrea Liu)

@ Material, Klingenstrasse 23, 8005 Zürich, Switzerland: https://www.materialismus.ch/events/between-the-fugue-and-the-origin

Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024 19:00-21:00

“Between the fugue and the origin: a fragile limit, a temporary homeostasis” — these are the words of Julia Kristeva in describing the acute sentience of those new to a country (Stranger to Ourselves, 1991).  Like ever-shifting tectonic plates, waves of people uproot from one place to another, trading universes, recombining in different permutations, coalescing a dynamic environment of cultural syncretism in the wake of their voluntary exile. Today a wave of Russian artists, intellectuals and cultural producers who fled Russia in the aftermath of February 2022 are making more dynamic the Berlin art scene.

Gesture can be a means of physically connecting word, image, and action. It can be a way of bypassing written and spoken signs by linking expression back to the site of its alienation: body. The sign is brought back to the place where it is coupled with the mimetic point of its production. Walter Benjamin construed gesture as dialectical because it is simultaneously both sign and action, both closed and open form (“What is Epic Theater II?” 1939). Gesture suggests a completed movement or action which it simultaneously interrupts, oscillating between movement and frozen sign, between the mimetic and the semiotic.

Gesture is an element (albeit with completely different inflections) in both Maxim Spivakov’s and Egor Rogalev’s work. In his enigmatic video-sculptural installation “G Minor” (2021), Spivakov is preoccupied with gestures of the prehensile instrument, the human hand—whether mediating the flow of images on a sensory touch screen, or mediating electrodes in the electromagnetic field of the theremin (musical instrument), or as gestural incarnation of political will. In his beguiling performance “The Organ of Memory” (2019), Egor Rogalev projects the biomechanics of gesture onto the screen of sound affect, linking memory, historical trauma, and lived experience in a moment when resources of familiar sign systems fell short. With their works, gesture almost becomes a means to store political energy, conjuring Judith Butler’s notion of gesture as a truncated form of action which acquires force and becomes an “event,” despite losing the context of its intelligibility (When Gesture Becomes Event, 2017).

Maxim Spivakov: In a wide range of media that spans from video installation to scholarly research, Spivakov’s work inquires into the general tenets that govern representation as political, aesthetic, and technical practice. Reading Marx’s famous claim of The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte: “They cannot represent themselves; they must be represented” as a set of broad and yet unresolved questions (can they?, must they?, who are they?), his projects delve into the formation of colonial Other, the violence of and against the image, embodied spectatorship, and techno-apocalyptic conspiracy beliefs. In his talk, Maxim will address the entanglement of the image, violence and technicity as a general framework to the discussion of his artistic practice.

Egor Rogalev Egor Rogalev will give an overview of his study of peripheral ways of interaction marked by microoptics, special distribution of attention, and escalation of empathy. This interest is expressed in his artistic works “Icons” (2019) and “The Organ of Memory” (2019) as well as in his recent dissertation project for Universität der Künste in Berlin. “The Organ of Memory” re-imagines the historical event of the “Leningrad Deaf-Mute Affair”, whereby the NKVD (Soviet secret police) detained 55 members of the local deaf-mute community in August 1937 on charges of forming a terrorist organization. Building on the idea of reenactment, “Organ of Memory” uses performers who perform sign language to a score of the sonic residue of their sign language, whereby vibration becomes a weapon. The event takes on a distinct character as a synesthetic, transtemporal, intersubjective process that resists the politics of silence, concealment, and suppression.

Organizer: Andrea Liu is an art critic/artist working between New York/Berlin/Paris. She received fellowships from Banff Centre Jarislowsky Outstanding Artist Award, Center for Experimental Museology (V-A-C Foundation), Museum Fine Arts Houston and is a 2023-24 Fellow at ZHdK (Zurich University of the Arts). She wrote catalogue/exhibition essays for artists Georgia Sagri (Deste Foundation, 2017), Kandis Williams (Soft Colony, 2017), Aditya Mandayam (Kunstverein Munich Companion Series, 2019), & Bob Gramsma (Edition Fink, 2014). She received her undergrad education from Yale University and was curator of Counterhegemony: Art in a Social Context, a theoretical fellowship program for visual artists.

Part of “What Could Possibly Go Right?”