Symfoniya, 2018

Two screen HD video, Ukrainian coal

(Bilozerke mine, Donbas region), ceramic bird

Main screen: 4 minutes 10 seconds looped;

Small screen: 41 seconds looped

Symfoniya is a two-screen installation work, specifically produced for the group exhibition, How to Do Things with Words, curated by Tom Pope & Vicki Thornton, which took place at ArtLacuna project space, London between 28th September – 14th October 2018.


The exhibition took as its starting point the concept of the performative utterance as defined by language philosopher, J L Austin, in his seminal lectures, How to Do Things with Words (1962). The performative utterance is the relationship between words and actions or the actualisation of what a sentence states: it is not the describing of an action, but the performing of an action through saying the words in a sentence.


Since the introduction of the performative utterance in linguistic theory, its use has transcended words to become a common notion in the visual arts. Artists utilise the performative in the production, presentation and theorisation of artworks. Performative strategies are employed in the production of works by folding the creation of an artwork with an event, often a performance event. Whereas the performative is primarily utilised in the presentation of artworks where the audience is required to ‘complete’ the work of art through interacting with it, frequently more so than simply looking. The theorisation of the performative in an artwork sees the artist amalgamate the performative utterance and visual theory, bringing the artwork to life somewhere between words and object, words and action.


Symfonia was shot at the ‘Muscle Beach’ outdoor gym in the Hydropark area of Kyiv, Ukraine and in Bilozerske music school in the Donbas coal mining region of eastern Ukraine. It explores notions of masculinity and its relationship to performance via references to Soviet films such as Dziga Vertov’s Enthusiasm (Symphony of the Donbas), 1930.



All content © Vicki Thornton (2016)