............... home......... works ........ cv + bio


some background thoughts


I am involved with interrelated works based on encounters of everyday life, re-reading of my own and 'found' footage, and subsequent essayistic montage. These long-term investigations reconnect the personal as well as collective experiences, protagonists and circumstances, histories retold and events that have occurred since. With this, it is 'poetics' (exemplified in cinematic thinking) that provides me with the synthetic strategies for re-thinking ways of coexistence and the future to come.(a)

An intertwining of the personal and the political, and opening the everyday onto history, are my key concerns. The intention is to sketch an investigative space by zooming in on particular everyday settings and then panning out to the broader contexts of society. As with most of my contemporaries, habitually and selectively, I record moments and situations from the daily life that surrounds me. This material is then archived together with other collections of 'found footage'. Only later - sometimes years - will these 'notes' find a destination and condense into a resonant structure. This working method enables a prolonged hesitation between image and meaning.(b) It allows a retroactive process that links wraps in time and space within our common (subjective and incoherent) experience of the everyday.(c)

Let's say that self-understanding, and indeed history itself is 'fictive', that is, subject to the effects of the imagination and interpretation. Posing or acting as common people, we are aliens in our home, seduced and defined by desires or elusive past. Fear of losing solid ground beneath one’s feet - the abyss of freedom - creates the urge to grasp at the surroundings for anything to hold onto culture, language, history... At the same time, the structures of true and false, good and bad, one’s self and identical are loosened. Questions are hovering above common people's heads, text-balloons (not) to be filled in. How can our fragile self survive the compulsion of identity to establish a 'safe' position inside a fragmented and accelerated social reality? The world remains opaque, never on the surface, it is complex and interconnected, a system, open and infinite indeed. Let's suppose that essayist montage could be the answer - a way of retracing and maintaining belief in the potentiality of coexistence within this groundless and miraculous world.

Shifting and intersecting layers - as in a reminiscence - require reflective participation from spectators. In a way, the artwork demands to be perceived as a form of thinking. If successful, this thinking is never completed and remains in the process of re-contextualisation whenever is viewed and considered again. (Ultimately, by resisting any closure, the 'thinking form' may shift that viewing position as well.)

The limitations of used technology and the underlying procedures are always a part of 'story to be told'. My works integrate 'errors', traces and echoes from their production, as well as distortions caused by various transmissions of thoughts and images. This is a way of looking both at and through the projected work. The videos are sometimes continuously re-edited, or in some cases supplemented with additional 'documentary' material, such as photographs, collages, maps, drawings and paintings. The montage is in this way expanding in a spatial periphery, beyond the core of the video material. The plan is to expand my work into the publishing activity – to produce the series of experimental montage books.

Some of my early works recycle subversive 'popular' music as developed in the former communist countries. This music, or in other works 'classical' music, is re-composed and 'engaged' with the contents of the videos. Be it popular or classic, more or less well known, music is being appropriated as another device for staging and provoking entanglements of personal and collective memories.(d)

The identity of the speaking subject is continually reconsidered by language's heterogeneity, polyphony, and polysemy. In my work, the preferred language is a montage of personal notes and adapted excerpts from literary, theoretic, journalistic, scientific, or any other written or verbal correspondence. This expression made of quotes is a form of fused subjectivity that reformulates itself through the other. It is a patchwork, a verbal and textual drift in the process of reconfiguration, or creation of the so-called 'constellation'.(e) Although this language and corresponding identity are limited in its specificity and locality, they are preferably imagined as moving through a larger dimension of time-space.

The subject is both in and beyond language, in and out of ideology - she is captive and independent, fixed in identity fantasies yet able to traverse them. Often writers in exile have speculated on ‘cutting the roots’ in their semi-autobiographical works.(f) There are also various authors who wrote on an artistic practice of creating a life differently from the one imposed upon us - on the possibility of reinvention through 'essaying' oneself. Essayistic expression calls into question the security of one's authority and identity; it demands both loss of self and rethinking and remaking of the self. The doubt remains: can reinventions of self still be efficacious in an age in which all such forms of resistance have been usurped (and neutralised) by cultural capitalism? Nevertheless, Bulgarian-French author Julia Kristeva in her writing demonstrates how attending to the 'micropolitics' of identity-formation is as necessary to political transformation as the 'macropolitics' that occur within the public sphere. Furthermore, Kristeva suggests that any political revolt will lead to bureaucratisation or terror unless we turn toward politics at the level of the individual - to keep the individual’s soul alive by pushing the limits of our tribes.(g)

Some time ago I commonly stated: “in general my works consider a tension between the concepts of freedom and the limitations of a social body and its economies”. Meanwhile, some specific cooperative efforts have shifted my perspectives - occasional collaborations with urban geographer Bas van de Geyn and artist Go-Eun Im, involvement with the artist-led spaces Klupko and Goleb.(h)

Igor Sevcuk, June 2007

updated: May 2015


a) The pioneers of experimental documentary and film practices, such as Dziga Vertov and Alain Resnais, might here agree with some of my heroes of diaristic and/or essayist cinema: Stan Brakhage and Chris Marker.

b) This is the cut in the direction of Giorgio Agamben's thought on the poetics of cinema (and Gay Debord) after Paul Valéry's 'hesitation between sound and meaning'.

c) Regarding to subjectivity, Robert Musil has noted in his essay-novel The Man Without Qualities: “Nothing is more foreign to [essayism] then the irresponsible and half-baked quality of thought known as subjectivity”.

d) See also notes on the bands: KUD Idijoti, Azra and NSK/Laibach in the texts for the videos Unification, Österland and Tracing Language. Other notes are on Chopin and Bosnian 'turbo-folk' in Thus Spoke (W.G.) - a diary, 'classic music' used for the video installation Haso – a synthesis of the global hero, and Schubert's Winterreise in Icelandic Grass.

e) The term constellation is used by both Walter Benjamin and Giorgio Agamben to conceptualize coming together of elements in a dynamic relation of past and present. A moment in the past is not a simple element in a historical archive but a means of understanding – and changing – the present situation (and the future).

f) Among others, James Joyce and Witold Gombrowicz. Still, it is curious how, for instance, how Joyce’s whole oeuvre is supersaturated with Dublin - the home city from where he escaped is synthesized in a complex and fluid new world.

g) Julia Kristeva, N. McAfee, New York: Routledge, 2004 and Kristeva: Thresholds, S. K. Keltner, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011

h) Klupko room(s) & daily art situations – an entanglement:
Goleb are artist studios and peoject space located on the second floor of a former school building in Amsterdam: