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Hydraulic Seas on the Volga River

video essay in six chapters, 22-ongoing

This project offers an operative concept of a hydraulic sea to engage with multiple histories of water reservoirs that facilitate the hydroenergy infrastructure. The concept derives from infrastructure studies and recent investigations into the materiality of water and approaches a constructed body of water as a techno-scientific body elemental to a hydroelectric unit, thus unsettling prominent dam-driven imaginary.

The project looks into the discontinued history of water reservoirs along the Volga River. Particularly, it explores the flooding of five towns in the area of the hydropower plants: Korcheva, Kalyazin, Mologa, Puchezh Volzhskiy, and Stavropol Volzhskiy. It traces how submerged places persist in memory, underwater, and through material artefacts. It engages with the objects discovered in field trips to the towns, such as sculptures, photographs, and architectural models, and offers a way to reconsider their histories and interrogate the major narrative of Soviet national world-building endeavour.

The project is a six-chapter video essay, with each chapter structured as an auto-theory fiction story about a specific hydraulic sea. It lands itself between the genres of theory- and auto-fiction to invert the grand style of the explored narrative and describe a first-person encounter with them. It suggests a form of storytelling that articulates theoretical concepts outside designated fields and immerses them in praxis. Likewise, the project contrasts gigantomanic and militarized visual language that portrays water reservoirs with alternative forms of representation.

presentation: Project Anywhere, The Centre of Visual Art, University of Melbourne and Parsons School of Art, Media and Technology, Parsons School of Design, The New School, 2023; Oceans as Archives Symposium, University of Amsterdam, 2022


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