Olga Krykun – Don’t Panic

Don’t Panic asks the same question that comes to mind whenever one watches Olga Krykun’s videos. What made this peculiar group of people and things get together – and what does their interaction mean? The secret of the bizarre, which is hidden in the author’s style and contained in Don’t Panic brings us to the conclusion that they got together to party.
A party – a witches’ Sabbath – and even the Airbnb housing speculation reflects the collective neurosis of the acceleration of the world that is mirrored in the world as jerky movements and absurd rituals. Let Behemoth the Cat lead us.

Don’t Panic depicts a certain atmosphere that may be familiar – the moment when the backdrop becomes an actor, pathos becomes sincerity and mechanical figures become emotional characters. The bizarreness works as a mask concealing something darker; or, in the worst case, nothing at all. The figures are celebrating. However, it is not clear whether they are celebrating the arrival of utopia, dystopia or nothingness. At a certain moment, the original tense atmosphere relaxes and what appeared to have the ambition to become a B-horror-movie is now an exalted dance. Later on, there is a vague ritual finished by magic that concerns a map of Paris. The protagonists seem to be choosing a place to throw another party. Maybe they are ravers and magicians, maybe they are Airbnb speculators launching a new investment.

The author’s new video is a diverging audio-visual fantasy that does not aspire to be a story or a moral. Krykun works with non-actors, using directorial improvisation. More than film, her videos resemble a recording of an event that is partly staged and partly improvised. The camera itself becomes a figure walking through the last moments of sanity. Some of the actors play neither themselves nor anyone else. They re-enact something that is their own, taking it to the extreme. The exaggerated stylisation reveals traces of authentic expression that mostly remains in the darker recesses of human identity. Is this excessive stylisation an attempt to escape or to hide? Is it an escape from scarcity, abundance, overload or boredom? Is it an escape from the anxiety-inducing fact that reality might have never existed or that it will cease to exist in no time?

Olga Krykun adopted the aesthetics of video clips, which are not so much about narrative continuity, but nervous volatility of random shots that chaotically depict various actors. The movements of the figures and the editing pulsate rhythmically, showing symptoms of volatility, lack of anchoring and frenetic escapism. The designer objects and clothing featured in the video also appear in the installation. Film props and their fates are comparable with the glory in the fictional world they are a part of. The ring worn by the actor Elijah Wood in The Lord of the Rings thus arouses the same desire and covetousness among collectors as the precious in Tolkien’s book. The animal cages in which the objects are exhibited are thus post-ironic comments on the scarcity of prized, protected, but eventually imprisoned objects. After all, the bizarreness and memetic potential of the mainstream celebrity world are long-term inspirations of the author’s works.

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František Fekete