Underneath Father America’s Closed Eyelids Lies Russia
Vox Populi Gallery – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
March 3 2017
AGIT MEM is a libretto and video loosely based on the Russian futurist opera Victory Over the Sun from 1913. The original Futurist opera presents a chaotic scenario where the sun is locked away in a cement box having been imprisoned as a symbol of the primitive past so that the new future driven by technology and electricity can rule the world. Using transparency, light and circular forms AGIT MEM takes up where Victory Over the Sun left off telling a story of reuniting the past with the present.
A personal story of a family strewn around the world as a result of Russian pogroms and revolution, AGIT MEM masquerades as Agitprop, a political theatre and design strategy presenting newsworthy information about current and political events. While the overall form, set design and choreography recall Agitprop the narrative is fragmented, dreamlike and personal. Eleven costumed figures read the AGIT MEM newspapers and follow instructions given by an omniscient narrator. The motif of the solar eclipse recurs in the original opera; similarly AGIT MEM transforms the eclipse’s associations with affliction by introducing a moon that generates its own light manifesting a glowing eclipse symbolizing reunification and restoration.
Underneath Father America’s Closed Eyelids Lies Russia consist of a printed libretto in the form of a newspaper that is also a print multiple that together composes an image of an enlightened solar eclipse, a 34-minute video and eleven framed photographs of the costumed characters.
Yvette Brackman (born 1967, New York, United States) is an American artist based in Copenhagen, Denmark. She works in a variety of media from sculpture, video and installations to social interventions and systems. Her work has a performative quality and uses methods such as role-play, memory, staging and exchange. Exploring the position of storytelling in social relations her projects often draw on elements from fashion, theatre and design and use strategies that challenge the role of the viewer. She explores themes such as the relationship of the body to space and memory and the interplay between origin, surroundings, displacement and exile. Recurring themes in her work include cultural survival and adaptability as well as political systems and their effects.