Monthly Archive: July 2003

Roundtable on Alexander Sokurov’s film “Russian Ark”

The echo on our publication of Dragan Kujundzic’s essay on Alexander Sokurov’s film Russian Ark (Russkij kovcheg) has been very lively. It is followed this week by another text or echo on the film by Raoul Eshelman. In addition, we have asked well-known critics and film historians for their responses to Sokurov’s film. These responses will be published over the next few weeks. Please find the first of them below. The questions we asked of all discussion participants were the following: “What will the moving image of St. Petersburg look like in the 21st century?” and “What … Read more

The Empire Strikes Back – Sokurov Takes Revenge on de Custine

Sokurov is a specialist in analyzing totalitarian ideologies-he proposed visual interpretations of Hitler (Molokh, 1999) and Lenin (Taurus, 2000). These films are the first half of a tetralogy on dictators of the 20th century. (Rumour has it that his next project will deal with Mao Tse Dong).

Russian Ark does not fit at all into this series. This breathtaking movie seems not to analyze but to produce ideology. It is a dream phantasy with a narrator who owns Sokurov’s voice and the eye of the camera.

This eye (which is in Nabokov’s homophony also an I) is led … Read more

Sokurov’s Russian Ark And The End Of Postmodernism

One of the most fascinating things about The Russian Ark, it seems to me, is that it is situated on the cusp between postmodernism and a new epoch in which such things as the experience of transcendence, the focus on simple subjects and things, theism, and the spatialization of time play a paramount role.

In other words, The Russian Ark can be viewed or read according to two distinctly different aesthetic paradigms. Since Dragan Kujundzic has already provided a thoroughly poststructuralist (i.e., postmodern) interpretation of the movie, I would like to reciprocate with a view from the other side … Read more

“And He Saw: It Was Good”

Anyone who knows Sokurov’s films-his obsession withmists, dissolves and fadeouts, their hypnotic thrills, his delving into a mystery-can easily understand Sokurov’s desire to make a film “in one breath”.

In one of his latest interviews Sokurov confessed that his idea of making a film without a single cut was already almost fourteen years old.

Then Sokurov wanted to make a film about the Tower of Babylon, where – as he mentioned – all nations and languages form one spiritual movement.

Sokurov is interested indeed in this kind of inner gesture, in the movement of big masses encircled by an … Read more

The Double Life of Art in Eastern Europe

Laura Hoptman – Tomáš Pospiszyl (eds.), Primary Documents: A Sourcebook for Eastern and Central European Art since the 1950s. New York, Museum of Modern Art, 2002

For a long time, art in East Central Europe has been placed on the periphery of interest of most academics in the West. The situation got even worse due to the political division of the world during the Cold War era.

Whereas postcolonial discourse crucially undermined the dominance of Western culture and changed the premises of both presentation and interpretation of visual art, Eastern European art and culture seems to lack exoticism and … Read more

Zoran Jovicic at Gallery S.U.L.U.J.

Galerija SULUJ , Terazije 26. Belgrade. May 12 – 17, 2003.

The Gallery S.U.L.U.J. is located in the strict center of Belgrade. The initials stand for the Association of Fine Artists of Yugoslavia-a namewhich hasn’t changed despite the fact that the country has recently become Serbia and Montenegro.

Unlike other local galleries that exhibit trendy work whose content is so predictable that an art lover loses the habit of even entering, this gallery offers a number of surprises. One never knows what to expect while climbing the stairs of a decadent old building, which at the beginning of the last … Read more

Sokurov’s Jubilee Film

Sokurov’s much debated film Russian Ark is a film of many paradoxes. Its premiers travel from West to East in America, Europe, and Russia, and contrary to the histories of Russia it (re)presents, has led to many confusions and irritations.

Picture theory as “sculpted” through the history of pictures, bodily perceptions and intercultural questions seem to be an entry-point for understanding and analyzing the film. A tangible simultaneousness of historical epochs, visual techniques and thoughts about preserving a national film-culture (in the context of the “global” or European threat) comprise some of the complexity of the film. Still, these issues … Read more