Special project of 6th Moscow biennale

Cinema of Repeat Film
22.09.2015 — 01.11.2015, Kinopanorama at VDNKh

Special project of 6th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art

Artists: Dmitry Gutov, Taisia Korotkova, Alexandra Paperno, Svetlana Shuvayeva, Natalia Vitsina, and Evgeny Yufit
Curatorial team: Alexandra Paperno, Natalia Nusinova, Ekaterina Inozemtseva
Official site: http://cinemaofrepeatfilm.ru/

The special project of the Biennale “Cinema of Repeat Film” will be shown at the Circular Kinopanorama Pavilion. The works of the artists Dmitry Gutov, Taisia Korotkova, Alexandra Paperno, Svetlana Shuvayeva, Natalia Vitsina, and Evgeny Yufit link their acutely personal and deeply individual creative work with a collective memory of the Soviet past. Archival cinema is the visible embodiment of collective memory. The outstanding cinema theorist of the 20th century Rudolf Arnheim called cinema the “collective unconscious of the nation”.

It would appear that Soviet cultural rhetoric did not invent a stranger definition than “repeat film”, designating for this purpose special cinemas to show these “repeat films”. The characteristics of “repeat” in relation to a film breaks down standard linguistic structures, and links that would seem automatic, as the definition “repeat” would seem to be an integral feature of cinema itself, and we ask the question — what do we mean by “repeat film”? Does this mean that there was a first firm, the original? Or what does it repeat? For it is unlikely that a film will lose its fresh appeal or originality after the first (premiere) screening as if, after encountering the reaction of the human eye, it were to change its immanent qualities, setting in motion some kind of diffuse reaction, thereby bringing to mind topics from science fiction. Repeated and recurrent screenings becomes the natural life form of the cinema, whose laws can barely be formulated, but we are left with a specific sensitivity, a strange mechanism within each of us, bringing closer or again pulling away some impression of the cinema. The exhibition Cinema of Repeat Films specifically focuses on the type of cultural sensitivity when the return, retrospection or artistic principle becomes a way of restoring natural links, or historical breaks, to use the expression coined by Boris Groys.

The Circular Kinopanorama cinema — a unique monument of Soviet engineering in cinema, was built in 1959 for the official opening of VDNH, and also the opening of the first American Exhibition in Moscow. A special circular film camera with 11 lenses that look at all cardinal points was used for the Kinopanorama to film views of the Black Sea Coast, Moscow, Leningrad and Tbilisi, the volcanoes of the Kurile Islands, and the Carpathian Mountains. Screenings gave cinemagoers the chance to take an imaginary journey around their country, as if they walked into animated tourist postcards brought home from journeys along the Baikal-Amur Mainline, through Hero Cities, Soviet republics, and around an idealised version of the USSR. Since then, time has stopped for the Circular Kinopanorama. Circular films are no longer filmed. However, by some miracle the unique projection system survived. The Circular Kinopanorama works, forgotten by everyone on the margins of the noisy All-Russian exhibition VDNH, and showing in rotation the six surviving films. It was transformed into a cinema of endlessly repeating films, a permanent loop of itself. Artistic Director Anna Kotomina writes: “The exhibition Cinema of Repeat Films in the Circular Kinopanorama is in tune with the museification project of this memorial to the historical period of the Khrushchyov Thaw. The extremely personal contribution of the artist may do more for the preservation of memories of the past than the archiving efforts of a museum employee.”

The exhibition is being held with the support of Moscow City Department of Culture, the Moscow Cinema state institution, and Triumph Gallery.