Felix Kalmenson's Neither Country, Nor Graveyard (2017), is a 60 minute two-channel video in memory of Kalmenson's family migration from Leningrad, USSR in 1989 and a record of their return to Saint Petersburg, Russia 27 years later. When their family left the Soviet Union, they were stripped of their citizenship. Presented with no opportunity to ever return, the family hired a videographer to film them, not in intimate familial spaces, but in central tourist sites. Neither Country, Nor Graveyard (2017) features this original footage alongside a mimetic scene-by-scene remake, documented by Kalmenson during their return to Russia in 2016. Interruptions of time and space are featured as Kalmenson encounters comme...rcial film sets, congested traffic, and transformations of the city's landscape as it transitioned towards the global politics of neoliberal capitalism. Intercut with ruminations of family members on the conditions of life in the late Soviet period, the film is accompanied by images that signal the optimistic framing of a global centre constantly under construction. With visions of past and contemporary Russia, Neither Country, Nor Graveyard reasserts a basis of cultural legitimation— initiating and constituting a close reading of post-Soviet societies.
A House of Skin (2016) is a 16 minute video work that charts the complex role that mass-produced concrete high-rise apartment buildings have played in defining the landscapes of post-soviet experience, both in the diaspora and the country of origin. The work problematizes the grand narratives that have accompanied both the formations and failures of the modernist architectural and social project, and introduces ruptures that inscribe vernacular ways of being and telling. The work reexamines these architectures, not as totalizing spaces, but as affective frameworks within which various narratives of social and family life are inscribed with violence, struggle, migration, and displacement. Drawing together disparate fragments from liveleak and youtube footage from Russia, ‘Little Moscow’ in North York, Canada, segments from Soviet cinema, contemporary Russian propaganda films and artifacts from Kalmenson’s family archive; the work pieces together a delirious narrative that charts the coexistence of bodies and buildings.
A conversation between curator Jenn Jackson and media analyst Svitlana Matviyenko will follow the screening. Matviyenko will present on soviet-techno politics with attention to the conditions of engaging the the political economy of information systems.
Throughout the spring season, 221A hosts sum of the parts, a curatorial research project by Jenn Jackson which brings together a selection of films, performances and installations by artists who activate personal histories which are drawn from familial and public record. Deanna Bowen, Felix Kalmenson, Divya Mehra, Krista Belle Stewart, and Casey Wei, present compelling excavations of the past, by drawing from familial, historic, and archival sources; visualizing narratives of race and class, and their recognition within official records. Each film and performance provides a framework for a larger narrative of archival complexities—offering a visual key to examine discourses on the commodification and construction of historic record in relation to the business of archival storage, preservation, and dissemination within the public realm. In mining the potential of the private and public archive, these artists interrogate the visual and material nature of historical reference and activate immaterial records. Events and research associated with sum of the parts will be hosted at Pollyanna 圖書館 Library, among other venues. Further details for this series will be listed at polly-anna.ca.
— Pollyanna 圖書館 Library has a 1.8m (6’) wide double set street front entrance with manually operated outward-swinging doors. An interior 6cm (2.5”) high by 60cm (24”) long ramp spans the width of the doorway. The bathroom is not wheelchair accessible. Please contact [email protected]
to make arrangements to best accommodate your needs.
221A acknowledges these events take place on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.