Limbo is a road movie as a slide show. With images of poor villages, deserted landscapes insertions of coordinates of the locations, which sometimes seem to repeat, the sequence follows the search for the closed city of Zheleznogorsk. The images only depict the city’s surroundings, sometimes in strange colours, while the city remains at a distance, as if it is a phantasm rather than a reality. In a single slide – more a belief than depiction – a trace of the city can appear as a thin line on the horizon, a plume of smoke, or a light spot. Limbo captures both a city averse to being seen and an explorer who never discovers if in that impenetrable space is what she hopes to find.
10’47” (loop) 40 slides, sizes projection: 3,5 m x 3 m
2 Slide projectors for medium format slides, digital program unit, free- standing wall/screen, darkened space
Limbo is part of the multi-annual project Proyekt Z.
Proyekt Ж is a long-term project about the closed city of Железного́рск (Zheleznogorsk) in the heart of Siberia, Russia. Founded during the Cold War to outrun the atomic power of the American adversary and to secretly produce plutonium and missiles, Железного́рск was also a utopian model city. For those allowed to work there, the hidden city held the promise of realising the socialist ideal. In contemporary times the city is no longer a secret but it stays inaccessible as the largest (still-) closed city in the Russian Federation. Officially its population voted to stay in 'splendid isolation'. With my camera, I have been circling around this impenetrable place for years. The project took on Kafkaesque traits as I never gained access, like K in Kafka’s The Castle.
Ж became therefore a space onto which I project my desires and hopes. Is it conceivable that a place exists, or has existed, where socialism has succeeded? Could something of the relevance of the original socialist utopia persist or sustain? Are socialist ideals by definition unreachable?