Tatiana Istomina

istominaBorn in Irkutsk in 1977, graduated from Moscow State University (2000), and in 2010 received a PhD in geophysics from Yale University. In 2011 she received an MFA from Parsons New School of Design (New York). She has been awarded several prizes (including the Joan Mitchell Foundation and American Austrian Foundation prizes) and art residencies in Salzburg (Austria) and Houston (USA).

Historical Inquiry: Primary Source Analysis
In history as an academic discipline, a primary source is an artifact, document or any other record created by contemporaries of the events under study. This video project is a collection of excerpts from archival footage produced in Russia from 1917 to 1939, which is a primary source for the histori­cal investigation of that era. Some of the clips in the collection come from recordings of major his­torical events (e.g., Lenin’s funeral, Moscow show trials), while others show day-to-day life. The goal of the project is to question the notions of truth and authenticity associated with primary sources. The footage in each episode is significantly manipulated using slow motion, repetition, montage and animation, which results in blurring the boundary between document and fiction. Some clips draw attention to people’s gestures, which may be commonplace and accidental but when emphasized and repeated, create a rupture in the smooth flow of archival record. In other cases manipulations are much more drastic. For example, the clip from Joseph Stalin’s address at a party meeting in 1937 shows only Stalin’s ear hovering in a black void. Although this relatively anonymous body part indi­cates the presence of the Soviet leader, his face slips out of view. Likewise Stalin himself, having slipped beyond the bounds of judgment, is always present in any discussion about the past and present of our country.

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