The video Sweet Nightingale expresses the tension between small private gestures and their collective repetition. A man slowly runs his hand through his hair to the strains of Mahler’s fifth symphony. We then see rows of people in a hall repeating the same gesture as the man and a series of other actions that are interpreted in social communication as signs of insecurity. Their movements seem to follow some secret choreography underpinned by the rhythm of the music and background noises. The artist leaves the background of the scene in darkness so as to focus the viewer’s attention on the individual gestures. The tension is released only when the crowd – once again with no warning – begin to throw the bags of rubbish they are holding into the middle of the room in a new act of protest.
Victor Alimpiev’s video brings elements from different disciplines – painting, drama, dance and music – together in the moving image. The focal point of his work is man, seldom appearing as an individual and nearly always in a group or crowd as a malleable “mass”. The characters thus become living sculptures in space. The movement of the mass takes place through the repetition of monotonous gestures, apparently familiar as regards function but detached from their context and subordinated to the dramaturgy of the moving image. The artist explores the possibilities of the theatrical mise en scène and the performative character of our everyday actions. While the early works addressed the body in space, Alimpiev focuses in more recent videos like Wie heisst dieser Platz? (2006) and My Breath (2007) on the deliberate inclusion of song and words. Equally meticulous stage sets thus present linguistic objects detached from the sense of everyday communication – like Alimpiev’s body in space – that condense to form new semantic spaces.
Victor Alimpiev (Moscow, 1973) has held solo shows at the Ekaterina Cultural Foundation in Moscow, P.S. 1 in New York, Studio La Città in Verona and the Centre Pompidou. His works are included in the collections of major international institutions such as the Fondazione Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, the Fondazione Trussardi, the Tate Modern, the Centre Pompidou, the Ekaterina Cultural Foundation and the MuHka Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow. Victor Alimpiev lives and works in Moscow.