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Hydraulic Seas on the Volga River

video essay in six chapters

The project offers an operative concept of a hydraulic sea to engage with multiple histories of water basins that facilitate infrastructures of hydro energy production. This concept derives from infrastructure studies and multidisciplinary research on water and approaches a water reservoir as a techno-scientific body central to a hydroelectric unit, unsettling prominent dam-driven imaginary.

The project looks into water reservoirs along the flow of the Volga River. Particularly, the project investigates the flooding of five towns that occupied the zone of 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 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 takes the shape of a six-chapter video essay, with every chapter presenting an auto-theory fiction story about one hydraulic sea. It lands itself between the genres of theory- and auto-fiction to invert the grand style of the explored narrative. Instead of reproducing a gaze that glorifies and monumentalizes technologized water bodies, it develops a first-person encounter with them. Likewise, the project contrasts gigantomaniac and militarized visual language that portrays water reservoirs with alternative modes 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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