Victor Alimpiev: To Trample Down An Arable Land

23 Sep 2009 – 15 Oct 2009


Birmingham, United Kingdom


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Ikon presents a major exhibition of videos by Russian artist Victor Alimpiev. Living and working in Moscow, Alimpiev is interested in human relationships, in particular the role of the individual within the context of the collective or other kinds of social groups. Comprising six videos, this exhibition includes the premiere of Alimpiev's ambitious new work, To Trample Down An Arable Land (2009). It features four central figures, young women holding aloft long trailing banners, heads slightly bowed, while they lead other performers up a long ramp. Gradually they move, like recurrent waves, pulled a few centimetres at a time in a deliberate forward motion. The artist likens this to a plough cultivating the land, each figure acting as a cog in a larger machine. Alimpiev's videos focus directly on his characters while avoiding specifc narrative — close-ups reveal intimate details and personal expressions; moments of awkwardness or tension becoming magnifed. Repeated gestures, passing through the group as one, are imbued with new, fugitive meaning. Ikon's galleries are modifed to create a flow, linking individual works to evoke a poetic mood overall. Meticulously staged, the videos trace the simplest of movements heightened to form a collective ritual. Group identity is further emphasised not only by carefully controlled actions and sound, but also through a uniformity of pale tones and muted colours. Two other works by Alimpiev, My Breath (2007) and Whose is this exhalation? (2008), connect the disciplines of visual art, dance and theatre. Performers, at once careful and intense, are balletic in style; their voices shift between whisper and song; their bodies use space as a chorus or ensemble would a stage. Thus, abstractions of everyday behaviour transport us, artistically, back to ourselves.

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