The classical Orientalist opposition of the ‘rational and mechanistic’ West and the ‘irrational and natural’ East is the Ghost Expedition’s key object of research. Paradoxically, it conducted not so much with the help of the post-colonial discourse of dominance and suppression / resistance that has become quite traditional for this problem, but rather using a range of metaphysical tools. Identifying the strategic objective of the project as ‘breaking through the social layers to the starting point of being to establish communication with the primeval consciousness,’ the artists seem to oppose both the criticism of primordialist ideas from the standpoint of social constructivism and the classical materialism that limits the existence of consciousness to humanity.
However, everything turns out to be much more complicated. Quite in the spirit of ethnographic studies of mythology, that can be traced back to Fraser’s Golden Bow, the participants in the project travel to spaces labelled sacred in traditional Kazakh culture, and this is where the paradox arises. Instead of a ritual-anthropocentric intervention that would be quite expected from contemporary artists of the previous generation, the participants of Ghost Expedition appropriate the qualities of these spaces for their laboratory studies conducted with an eye to object-oriented ontologies and the artistic practices derived from them. Whether it is a sand dune song, shell rock, sand whirlwind, or imprint of the world accessed through a camera obscura, computer camera or supersensitive microphones, the artists do not simply reproduce or document the hidden meanings behind the threshold of the mineral elements. They strive to identify certain tones and vibrations in the background noise of the world and to transform them into observable phenomena that have their own meaning, their being in the world of myth and the world of pure values.
Interpreting this transformation with the help of esoteric, or rather, anthroposophical lens, one can observe how colonial binary oppositions of the natural and mechanistic, ‘soil’ and ‘technology’, as well as matter and consciousness are removed in the project by referring to what Rudolf Steiner called the Ahrimanic force consolidating matter and reason. Investigating the sacred space and its material components in their laboratories, the artists allow the spiritual forces of crystallization to come forth and express themselves. The practices of shamanism give way here to a hybrid of mediumism and the theory of supersymmetry, in which creatures are transformed into substances, and substances into radiation — and vice versa. Sand becomes a whirlwind, the whirlwind becomes a sound, and the sound becomes the experience through which it is the viewer who is already speaking: talking to the artist, and maybe to the spirits of the place, to Gaia, or to the whole Universe.
In one of the spaces I symmetrically assembled two ceiling fans, facing each other, on the ceiling and floor. They spin in reverse directions, reminiscent of a mechanical dance. Their visual form, as well as the sound produced by them, appropriates and dynamizes the space, intensifying the circulation of air and energy. The installation is accompanied by a video in which I fight real wind in the desert. This juxtaposition suggests that air from the fans can affect the person on the screen. The reconstructed "environment" is illuminated by constant, artificial lighting from behind the window. In front of the space, a video performance is displayed in which I spin around in a humorous reference to human inefficiency towards machines and the forces of nature.
In the halidoms of Mangistau I used camerton with lab accuracy in order to find the perfect surface to resonate with transcendental frequencies. Most of these places are already gradually turning into the ordinary touristic locations, but behind this external cover Mangistau earth will always keep its energy in form of rocks, caves and sands. The result is embodied in the magic circle, a ceremonial portal into otherworldly frequencies of the sacred lands.
Since early childhood, which I spent in Dushanbe, I associated the number 40 with rituals. 40 days after birth, 40 days after death, 40 steps of purification in the necropolis of Shahi Zinda in Samarkand. For this work, I have assembled a handmade analog pinhole camera that uses the camera obscura technology mentioned in arab sources and works of Alhazem of the X century. I use photography not as a tool for documenting, but as a magic device, the purpose of which is to fix the subtlety of the place, trying to catch the spirits living in the necropolises of the Mangystau region. I turn to a simple basic form — a line, a point starting from the earth and going up into the sky.
Rocks and hard places
For Rocks and hard places artist Gregor Vogel concerned with the singing dune in Altyn Emel national park, a renown natural monument and geological phenomenon. Famous for emitting sounds during dry weather similar to the tune of an organ, the dune has been the cause of superstitions from ancient times. Mostly focussing on his feet – the main point of interaction between humans and their surroundings – the video that is part of the work shows the artist’s effort to climb the dune and experience its singing. By turning the provided hourglass filled with sand from the singing dune, visitors get a chance to repeat the endeavours depicted in the video on a domesticated scale.
You need to take picture to read it
You need to take picture to read it is a blinking poem written during the Ghost Expedition. The text and meaning can be revealed only if you are willing to take part in the play. Just take a photo of text at the correct time and read it afterwards. Just take a screenshot.
Mirror is a camera performance with usage of eye tracker. I use computer camera as a mirror. I'm examining my body after the project – how I look and how I've changed. Follow my eyes and see what I see.
See what I saw
See what i saw is a collage video of what I have witnessed and experienced during the Ghost Expedition. I invite you to see what I saw.
Series of three videos show different approaches towards presence and way to perceive, to experience and to see.
Shell rock is a stone mined in the Mangistau region, as a memory of the ancient ocean left these places. The object of the artist's hands symbolizing blessing, hands framing the void as a repeating pattern, Mangistau region's sign. The land where 360 Sufis are buried. Water collected from Beket-Ata source, underground mosque, one of the central places of pilgrimage in Kazakhstan.
gallery TSE Art Destination
supported by European Union