15 September - 10 January 2018
Special Astrophysical Observatory
of the Russian Academy of Sciences,
RATAN-600, stanitsa Zelenchukskaya, 1a Kalinina str.
HOURS OF OPERATION:
Monday through Sunday
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
TOUR RESERVATION: +7 (918) 711-02-71
The art project Station YE5 investigates the heritage of the era of Soviet modernism and modernity in the village of Nizhny Arkhyz, in the Russian Caucasus. Nizhny Arkhyz is home to the Special Astrophysical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences (SAO RAS), a Soviet science facility centred around a six-meter telescope, which was completed in 1975 and remained the largest telescope in the world until 1993. Station YE5 will carry out anthropological research, create video documentation and work with the SAO RAS archive. The aim of the work is to reveal and study the inertial effects of Soviet modernist installations on the environment, and the nature and degree of mutual influences between this environment and the social fabric of the village.
The study will provide an answer to the question how cultural codes of the Soviet era mix with contemporary culture in a specific place. The starting points for the author of the project are the history of the place, which he will restore using archival records and conversations with the inhabitants of the village, who have lived here since the SAO RAS was built. In Nizhny Arkhyz the history of Soviet astrophysics and Soviet modernism mixes with the everyday thinking of modern people.
The project consists of several parts: an audio installation and a total installation with a video essay. The audio installation takes the form of communication between inanimate objects, which are in dialogue with each other: the dialogue of two telescopes observing one and the same the same star in spectral and photometric modes; the dialogue of supernovas with the reflections of other planets. The message of people to nature (the facilities erected here in the Soviet past have become a part of nature). The author of the project interacts with the ghosts of Soviet modernism and the forces of nature, sending a message to the faceless nature of things, through which they acquire meaning and spirit. The participant of this audio installation witnesses the interaction of objects that are woven into the world picture of the local scientific community. The audio installation will consist of a walking tour around different sound points at the telescope site. The second part of the project will be a spatial installation in the form of a research station. The artist will create a data archive from found documents and images, and from oral histories which he has heard. One part of the station will be a two-channel video essay, in which the author presents the stories of people who have been influenced to various extents by Soviet artifacts and the specific geography of the place. Station YE5 attempts to restore a complete picture of the past of a given place, using disparate data in order to understand the present.
However, in the absence of a documented history of the village and of any taxonomy, the study of the past is bound to make its own interpretation of many events, so that the reality of the picture, which the study produces, can be called into question. Was there really a conversation between the two telescopes, did the agency of the telescope really exert an influence on the observers who used it, or is all of this a fiction created by the staff of the research station? Through these questions the author problematizes the lack of an archive of the SAO RAS (caused by the historical events of the village itself), which allows a free interpretation of the history of this place. As a result, the memory and identity of local residents and of the whole village is also in a state of uncertainty and openness to interpretation, even as regards the chronology of events.
Vasily Sumin and Ilya Yakunin