A video project by Chto Delat? (2005)
Realized by Tsaplya [Olga Egorova], Nikolay Oleinikov, Dmitry Vilensky
This video project is inspired by the painting “The Builders of Bratsk” (1961) by Viktor Popkov. As a Soviet art critic once accurately noted, “the paintings main theme is the ‘resurgence of life.'” By today, this piece has become an iconographic symbol of self-possessed, concentrated people, not only standing on the brink of great changes, but capable of making sense of this transformation and realizing it.
Also see related materials in Chto Delat?’s publication “What do we have in common?”
It is important to note that the workers on the painting are not shown in the process of working, but that they are taking a well-deserved cigarette break. They have interrupted their work and now have the chance to consider both the relations that govern it, but also the significance it will have to the transformation of society at large. This is exactly how the painting was read in its time, as an interpretation we would like to return to today.
Our project’s goal is to apply this ideal image to contemporaneity. We invite the spectator to return to the composition of this painting and to suggest a new version of the process of its creation. We want to show (through a slide show and sound track) what might have preceded this moment, in which they took on a pose that turned them into a symbol of certainty, strength and belief. What was it? Hard work? A conflict in production that found its own solution? Or maybe even a hidden love story? Maybe it was all of these things at once, and maybe none of it happened. Our goal lies in constructing a situation in which people today (ourselves and our colleagues from Chto delat) become “ideal,” stretching to reach this image.