On 15 September 2018, the winner of the 4th Gogova Foundation Artists Residency Vasily Sumin introduced his solo project titled Station YE5, research on the ontological unity of incommensurable dimensions.
Sumin’s project looks into the heritage of the era of Soviet modernism and modernity in a small academic town. The artist used a local history that he pieced together from archival records and conversations with old-timers as his starting points. The outcome of this research project will be the answer to the question about the process of blending cultural codes of the Soviet era and modern culture in this place.
The project combines the history of Soviet astrophysics and modernism with the everyday mindset of today. The project consists of several parts: an audio installation and a total installation with a video essay. The audio installation is presented as a conversation between inanimate objects: a dialogue between two telescopes observing the same star in spectral and photometric modes; a dialogue between supernovae and magnitudes of other stars, and humanity’s message to nature that embraced the buildings constructed in this location at the end of Soviet era. By this means the artist interacts with the ghosts of Soviet modernism and the elements and transmits a message to the faceless nature of things, endowing them with meaning and spirit as a result. The participants of this audio installation witness the interaction between the objects that are woven into the worldview of the local scientific community. The audio installation will be a walking tour along various sound spots on the premises of the RATAN-600 radio telescope.
The second part of the project will be a spatial installation emulating a research station. The artist puts together a data archive from documents and images he discovers in the course of his investigation, as well as the oral history he collects. The installation will feature a two-channel video essay presenting the stories of locals who have been to varying degrees influenced by Soviet artefacts and the village’s geolocation. The station is an attempt to restore a comprehensive picture of the place’s past using the obtained scattered data to get a better understanding of the present. Yet due to the absence of the official documented history of the village and any taxonomy, the study of the past implies a distorted interpretation of many events, calling the objectivity of the resulting picture into question. Did the two telescopes really have a conversation? Is the impact of a telescope’s agency on an observer real, or is it an invention of the research station workers? By asking these questions, the artist problematises the SAO RAS’s lack of archives associated with the historical milestones of the village itself, which makes its history free for interpretation. Consequently, the memory and identity of the locals and the entire village are also in a state of uncertainty and open to interpretation even in the realm of chronological events.