Archive 2022 KubaParis
Red Order: arms race
LocationThe Rodchenko Art School
Subheadline‘Red Order: arms race’ by Pavel Polshchikov
This project is based on a speculative story about intelligence officers who use various occult and esoteric practices in their work and try to interact with otherworldly forces.On the one hand, this plot itself refers to fantastic works like “Men in Black” or “Ghostbusters” (and here there is a certain ironic transfer of narratives from “Western mass culture” to the post-Soviet context), on the other hand, to the power structures of the late USSR, and then post-Soviet Russia, there were groups of officials who actually tried to incorporate such practices into their activities. For example, Major General of the FSB Georgy Rogozin was actively involved in such “experiments”, about which he later wrote very detailed memoirs. And a decade and a half later, some of his achievements migrated to the plots of the political propaganda of the Putin regime. Today, Russia's military aggression is justified not only by geopolitical "expediency", but also by stories about Vanga's predictions on federal TV or fake quotes from Western politicians, whose thoughts were once "read" by the same Rogozin and his colleagues using telepathy and tarot divination. In short, this specific union of the Soviet power apparatus and the new age that rushed into the expanses of the USSR in the late 80s is not only a funny product of its time, but to this day an existing and reproduced set of plots and narratives. Moreover, in the absence of a clear totalitarian ideology, Putin's state actively resorts to this discourse of the KGB new age, convincing the population from TV screens of the inevitability of Russia's victory over "world evil" and "western satanists". And all kinds of sorcerers and mediums are just as frequent guests on political talk shows on federal television, as well as pro-Kremlin political scientists. This hybrid of the occult and the post-Soviet language of power representation underlies the visual metaphor of the Red Order project. The central work, which is something like a fortune-telling board or a Foucault pendulum, is made as a hybrid of visual techniques from alchemical manuscripts or treatises on Kabbalah and Soviet symbols (Two red stars superimposed on each other form a decagram, on which is superimposed a map of the location of Stalin's skyscrapers in Moscow). The fabric banner on the wall is the same hybrid of the visual languages of new age culture and the heraldry of the Russian law enforcement agencies. It is a kind of psychedelic study on the theme of the Russian coat of arms, where one pair of eagle heads looks into real space, and the other keeps order in the world of spirits and ghosts subordinating them to their political will. Finally, works on tablets refer to some artifacts related to voodoo magic or sacred geometry. In itself, this combination of two seemingly very different systems of knowledge is in many ways the main symptom and property of the Putin regime. Such a specific schizoid hybridity, authoritarianism brewed not on an intelligible ideology, but on scraps of logic and symbols from completely different cultural layers.