imperial machine

2020, sitespecific installation consisting of Dark Matter (4K Video 19‘52“, color, sound), Imperial Objects (publication,136 pages, 24 × 17 cm, thread-sewn hardcover), glass showcases, trapezoidal sheet metal, objects

Trapezoidal sheet steel dominates first impressions of the installation Imperial Machine (2020). Widely used in an industrial context, this material is easy to transport and weatherproof. It has been used to construct a tall square exhibition space; its footprint and towering form are reminiscent of a diamond mine elevator. Buildings like this are characteristic of the diamond mining industrial complex in the former USSR and can be recognized from a great distance. At the center of the installation Imperial Machine (2020) is the film Dark Matter (2020), which shows the different forms and consequences of diamond mining. The encroachment on the landscape is clearly visible here, but the film does not comment on the authorities responsible nor on their motives. In the illuminated display cases near the projection, various objects are combined with one another, their contexts and meanings intertwined: a pension book, a workbook, a bust of Stalin, refrigerator magnets illustrated with large Russian mining trucks.

They allude to the organizational principles that structure and govern Yakutia as a resource within the former Soviet Union. The representations of financial motives overlap with politically motivated control mechanisms. In their various forms and multi-part arrangement, the exhibits on display communicate the impossibility of finding simple answers in the post-Soviet periphery. Questions about a general historical truth or historical factuality are inadequate and remain unanswered. The clues provided by these objects relating to the landscape of Yakutia are, over time, compiled layer by layer in the book Imperial Objects (2020). The artist’s book juxtaposes personal stories with various observations and experiences connected to the large-scale state experimental undertakings of (post-)Soviet power interests.