In his poetic videos, Victor Alimpiev records carefully choreographed performances that resemble collective rituals. The artist avoids conclusion and psychological resolution in his abstract narratives that combine the techniques of film with drama, music, experimental theater, and dance. The figures in his videos are often engaged in sequences of repetitive minimalist movements in indistinct spaces, turning the scene into a sculptural composition.
For the High Line, Alimpiev will present a suite of three videos:
In Summer Lightnings (2004), cropped close-ups of schoolgirls tapping and thumping their fingers on their desks are interspersed with footage of an impending summer storm. The girls synchronize percussion with the rumble of thunder, pounding rain, and crescendo of lightning. Occasionally, the children abruptly stop their menacing rapping to lay their palms face up on their desks or over their mouths in a helpless and restless gesture. The incorporation of silence underscores the elements of peace and serenity that often go unnoticed in both the natural phenomenon of summer storms and a bustling classroom.
In Sweet Nightingale (2005), a crowd performs a sequence of gestures choreographed to the Austrian composer Gustav Mahler’s nostalgic Symphony No. 5. Punctuated by periods of silence, the composition dictates the emotion of the mass, ranging from anguish and confusion to laughter and merriment. The choreography of the group is dictated by the banal movements of a male figure in the opening scene who nervously strokes his hair and chin. Far from flawlessly coordinated, the individual variations of this routine underscores the tension between uniformity and difference as well as the performative character of our everyday actions.
To Trample Down an Arable Land (2009) stages the silent advance of a band of figures in light pink clothing inching up a slightly tilted ramp. Coordinated in their minimalist movements like a weary military troupe or a cellular organism, the group slowly and resolutely progresses forward. The group carries large pale pink flags, their shoulders arching forward to reflect an indeterminate burden. Rather than wave triumphantly, the fabric of the flag is dragged along the ground under the feet of the front line. The troupe intermittently ceases their forward progression to kneel on the floor, calling to mind the bowing of actors or the religious pose of prayer.