Alex Stoyanov

They saw Stalin

The film is based on a chronicle of Stalin’s performance at the Grand Theatre in Moscow in 1937, taken from a YouTube historical channel. The chronicle was created by the Soviet government for propaganda purposes. I remounted the movie and played the video in reverse, slowing it down by 5 times. About 90 percent of the image is reversed. Russia is a country of repetition in a historical context. But for me it is important in this film not just to turn back time, but to focus on the very perception of time, to demonstrate its fluidity, cyclicity.

Theatre, initially, is a performative space. In the classical sense, it is divided into artists and spectators. But in this chronicle, these roles are more complicated. Sometimes it’s hard to say for sure: the audience clap because they like what they see and hear, or because they play the role of spectators in this theatre.

The film is called “They saw Stalin” – just like the famous painting by the Soviet socialist realist artist D. Mochalsky.

I am a visual artist and work mainly with photography. Some of my projects are at the intersection of artistic and activist practices.
I enjoy working with archival materials and found footages.
The archive for me is not only a piece of the past, but also of the present. Through historical materials, I try to peer into the modern tangle of life.
It is very difficult for an artist to change political reality. But I believe in the power of culture. By doing projects on topics that concern me, I try to draw people’s attention to them. For provoke reflection.

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