Encounters: Victor Alimpiev

Films & videos addressing the subtleties of human expression.
Modern Art Oxford, Sun June 15th - Sun August 31st 2008

June 26, 2008
Two natural phenomena such as summer storms and fingers tapping on table tops are combined in ‘Summer Lightnings’, one of two short film pieces by Moscow based Artist Alimpiev showing at Modern Art Oxford. In the second piece, ‘Whose is this exhalation?’, the soft, innate, tactile communication between members of a group equates with a short sharp shot of physical theatre. In just a few minutes of running time the film tells the story of what it is to be in this beige-clad group as a chorus of eight repeats a musical phrase for as long as one member can hold their breath. This dramatises the intensity of the forced exhalation when it comes unannounced, accentuating the humanity of a basic process such as breathing. There is a feeling of destruction as the outbreath destroys the vocal achievement of the group. The musical phrase is begun again only at a higher pitch. The chorus members show an awareness of being in a group but lack self awareness as they communicate with each other through gazes and tune into each others natural body language for cues. It is the small gestures displaying humanity that seep through the monotonous task that Alimpiev gives to his chosen group that make the videos fascinating to watch. The only energy the viewer perceives is of the values the group naturally tunes into.

Children tap their fingers on a desk until a dry electric summer storm breaks a night sky in the alternate video, ‘Summer Lightning’ . The school girls endeavour to match their finger tapping to the climax that builds on the film footage of the storm. To create a unified crescendo of finger tapping the children concentrate on the cues of the Artist who is present in the room but out of shot on the video. It appears that ‘Summer Lightning’ is a common phenomenon across the Russian landscape and also the name of a vigorous sport that ends in the opposing teams bonding at the end. Being in touch with the chaos of nature whilst being moved to repeat the most individual personal gesture tied up with humanity such as breathing or finger tapping on this viewing certainly bonds the intrigued visitors in the small dark gallery room.
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