Blue Flame: Constructions and Initiatives
... a storm is blowing from Paradise: it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.
- Walter Benjamin, Ninth Thesis on the Philosophy of History
Anton Ginzburg, a New York-based artist, born in the USSR, presents a new body of work titled Blue Flame: Constructions and Initiatives. The exhibition explores the collapse of the modern universalist project. Visitors encounter a series of artistic investigations recalling Constructivist pedagogical experiments combined with the artist's personal mythologies. It culminates in Turo (Tower in Esperanto), a film exploring post-Soviet geography and Constructivist architecture. Modernity is interpreted as an updated Tower of Babel project that exists as an archive of ruins. Exploring various methods of representation, the video's structure combines cinematic narrative, videogame footage, and digital abstraction.
Throughout the 1920s, VKhUTEMAS (the Soviet equivalent of Bauhaus) spawned the influential art movements Constructivism and Suprematism led by faculty that included Kazimir Malevich, Lyubov Popova, and Alexander Rodchenko, among others, whose pedagogical experiments, or 'initiatives,' reflected the school's mandate to merge progressive politics and technical innovation within the universalist, modernist project. In a summer residency among the mountains of southern Alberta, Ginzburg engaged in visual exercises, including colour and spatial studies, photography, and graphic explorations, reanimating avant-garde methodology into a present day North American context. In a playful if destructive gesture, the artist burned spatial studies, summoning the aura of the interrupted avant-garde experiment.
The deconstructive gesture is echoed in Ginzburg's new film Turo - the third installment of his trilogy preceded by Hyperborea and Walking the Sea. In Turo, three modernist buildings are explored as stages for past utopias along with a recording of a "ghost mode" video game based in the ruins of Pripyat (site of Chernobyl catastrophe) and featuring Tatlin's unrealized tower. The artist employs Esperanto - a language devised as an international medium of communication - to guide the viewer through each chapter of this "fictionalized non-fiction."
Anton Ginzburg is a New York-based artist who uses an array of historical and cultural references as starting points for his investigations into art's capacity to penetrate layers of the past and reflect on the contemporary experience. Born in 1974 in Leningrad, USSR, Ginzburg received a classical arts education before immigrating to the United States in 1990. He earned a BFA from Parsons The New School for Design in 1997 and MFA degree from Bard College, Milton Avery Graduate School of Arts. His art has been shown at the fifty-fourth Venice Biennale, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and White Columns in New York, among others.
Blue Flame: Constructions and Initiatives is organized by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. Funding assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the City of Lethbridge.
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