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#8: State of Emergency

Ilya Budraitskis /// Man and Bomb. Notes on the Work of David Ter-Oganyan

“Our consciousness arises wherever we feel life’s dissonances and their signals, since our consciousness calls the elimination of such disharmony”, wrote the Marxist critic Alexander Voronsky in the 1920s. According to this definition of art’s cognitive role with regard to society, the creative act pursues the primarz goal of destroying the oppressive monopoly of commonly accepted rules for the restoration of relative harmony between the milieu and ourselves. Life in today’s world cannot help but provoke the bravest possible methods to restore the lost balance of the author’s aesthetic feeling.

“Our consciousness arises wherever we feel life’s dissonances and their signals, since our consciousness calls the elimination of such disharmony”, wrote the Marxist critic Alexander Voronsky in the 1920s. According to this definition of art’s cognitive role with regard to society, the creative act pursues the primarz goal of destroying the oppressive monopoly of commonly accepted rules for the restoration of relative harmony between the milieu and ourselves. Life in today’s world cannot help but provoke the bravest possible methods to restore the lost balance of the author’s aesthetic feeling.

There are only a few seconds left before a small explosion. Just a flash and the nasty smell of organic gases fills the room. These are fart-bombs, little stinkers, toys that you can buy in any shop that sells novelties or practical jokes. The fart-bombs’ owner is faced with one central, definitive choice, namely the right to choose a space. Be it a smoky art-café, a darkened movie-theater or a pathos-laden round table of the “expert community” of intellectual prostitutes, any space is good enough to create a new situation, to supply all of this idiotic and irritating reality with a new, subtle and critical dimension. The smell of the little stinker is capable of generating the most unexpected readings of public spaces that would have seemed to be terminally occupied. Decisively demanding their own removal, these stink-bombs are capable of radically democratizing any authorial social event, presenting any owner with the unique opportunity to play his own, unobvious game.

The sequence of circumstances that creates ossified forms of communication and behavior – lectures, dialogues structured in “an appropriate manner”, que-lines etc. – are all defined by a general disposition, which usually depends on us to provide the proper filling for the spaces controlled by power. Danger or extreme situations bring this dependance to its borderline, simultaneously supplying us with a chance for radically changing our own position and the position of others through actions that are subtle and unforseen.

I like the work of David Ter-Oganyan so much because it invites us to participate in a dialogue on the behavior of anyone in the moment before the “explosion”. Mock-ups and sketches of bombs, disquieting silhoettes, and nervously moving shadows allow the gaze to move in as closely as possible, tuning it into a concentrated mode, calling for unfailing personal responsibility for is happening in the here-and-now.

It is common knowledge that school plays an important role in defining your trajectory through life. It is here that the majority of teenagers gradually recognize an image of a world entangled in crafty and cynical conspiracies against any non-standard behavior or critical perception of reality. It is here, at school, that a man and his bomb begin to interact. The sound of the fart-bomb’s explosion does not only give you a feeling of inner joy at having perpetrated an independent act, but also momentarily makes you happy by changing your relationship to the others, both fellow-students and teachers. Growing up only complicates your relationship to the “bomb”, heightening your inner experience of the tragic disharmony of social relations on the whole.

According to sociological surveys, mass conciousness firmly connects the year 2004 to the experience of a huge number of explosions that seemed to come out of no-where. Their anonymity and senselessness signifies an endless numbers of questions that capture the attention of yesterday’s school-children. It is hardly coincidental that the governments of Germany and Italy appealed to their populations to refrain from buying fire-crackers on New Year’s in favor of making a donation to the victims of a recent catastrophe. Yet this philanthropy, which humanely calls for a kind of “demilitarization”, can be read as a kind of allegory. If we don’t find our own bombs, someone else will drop their bombs on us.

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