Oleg Tcherny. Transmission Impossible

Oleg Tcherny. Transmission Impossible


Тhe first Ukrainian Oleg Tcherny exhibition “Transmission Impossible” will be opened in the Lviv Municipal Art Center on July 24, 2021. The author of the exhibition Oleg Tcherny was born in Minsk (1971), studied at the Dusseldorf Academy of Fine Arts and at the Le Fresnoy National Studio for Contemporary Arts in France, and lives in Paris.

His works comprise documentaries, short fictions and above all practices that do not fit into received genres, including experimental cinematography or video art. A single sequence shot often lies at their basis. This material is recorded with a camera and a microphone and then deprived of its linear continuity and its constant exposure-time in the process of “vertical” editing so as to regain the objectivity that it possessed before passing through the sensors. 

His works – audiovisual portraits and philosophical meditations on sexuality, politics, and the ontology of the image – have been shown at major film festivals such as Vienna, Venice, Rotterdam, Zagreb and Minsk, as well as at cultural centers featuring contemporary art, such as the Centre Pompidou (Paris), Palazzo Grassi (Venice), Kunstpalast Ehrenhof (Dusseldorf), and the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art. 

In Ukraine, he has participated in the exhibition Zbor, Belarusian Art Movement (Isolation Platform, Kiev). 

Transmission Impossible. Four video and audio projections are placed in three adjacent spaces and distanced from each other in time, with a total duration of one full-length film. But a film of what genre? Precisely, as the name suggests, it is a film without а genre, without succession. And the very impossibility of succession, which may or may not be challenged, is here the subject of the exhibition.   

There are four independent works from different years, each of which has its own tonality, its own anima. But if one looks at them together, there is less contingency in the composition than in each of these works taken separately. A ray of light gliding over the legionnaires’ raised spears in one of them finds its natural reflection in a character stalking across the screen on stilts in another. The search for a caesura between two walls in the studio of an artist (Nan Hoover) responds to the vibration of a tuned harpsichord string.

La linea generale (The General Line) 2010, 16’. 

The long tracking shot starts from the Ponte della Libertà, which connects the historic center of Venice to the mainland. The Dolomites form the background. Sounds of a floating pontoon dock hitting the shore. The edging of the camera around the perimeter of the city gradually reveals the vertical profile of the movement itself. Initially, the clear outlines of buildings multiply, diverge, and become blurry, as if, photogram after photogram, our eyes were losing their ability to focus. A character named Sagredo (voice-over by Giorgio Agamben) imagines a painter traveling on board a ship with a special pen that can leave traces in the air.

Flashback Legion 2016, 20’. 

A ray of sunlight slowly climbs over Tintoretto’s canvas, wresting from the shadows the faces of Roman soldiers, among other details in the picture. Noise from the square outside, echoes of the footsteps in the church. The real time of natural light is interwoven with fragments of its past and future positions. With respect to the ray’s linear chronicle, these episodes are at once events in memory, flashbacks and flashforwards, and mere flashes.

Thunderclouds in the picture, as foreseen by the artist almost five centuries ago, vary with the changing of the seasons and the hours of the day, contemplating the event on Golgotha as another natural occurrence. 

Slight Delusion of Grandeur (2019), 20’. 

The wind plays on a “monochord” made of plastic ratchet tape. Filmed in a single twenty-minute shot, the scene is cut and arranged to fit the exact intervals of the strumming. It is the whirring of this tape (and not that of the film in the projector) that sets the pattern of chiaroscuro on the screen, through which a man sneaks on stilts. Shots do not follow each other but rather step over one another. Maybe in Proust’s understanding of the present as the past that is perched on stilts. At the same time, the title evokes Montaigne’s remark that “when upon stilts, we must still walk with our legs; and when seated upon the most elevated throne in the world, we are still seated on our own bums.”

Transmission Impossible (2021), 20’.

On the other side of the screen: fog, pursuit, security guards in orange vests. On this side: an epic comedy in masks, an adaptation of Aristophanes’ Peace, where the hero flies up to the heavens, on an overfed dung beetle, bearing a message for the gods. For its part, the screen itself is an insurmountable obstacle to the light falling on it.

If one takes into account the date alone, the work can be read in the context of the pandemic, the claustrophobia of isolation, political catastrophe, the ineluctable acceleration leading to the lack of the syn-chronic in what is known as the con-temporary….

But there is also the impossibility of ascertaining the whereabouts or the charges of the arrested, and the impossibility of a simple transfer of personal items to those imprisoned, in Belarus today.