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 Z.is a long-term project about the closed city of Zheleznogorsk in the heart of Siberia, Russia. Founded during the Cold War to secretly produce plutonium and missiles and to outrun the atomic power of the American adversary, Zheleznogorsk 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 secret but stays inaccessible as the largest still closed city in the Russian Federation. With my camera, I have been circling around this impenetrable place for years. The city takes on Kafkaesque traits as I never gain access, like K the land surveyor in Kafka’s The Castle. Zheleznogorsk becomes therefore a space onto which I project my desires and speculations. 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 are socialist ideals unreachable?