‘The moment we think of the world as disenchanted… we set limits to the ways the past can be narrated.’ —Dipesh Chakrabarty
horizōn is a short work produced by Siberian-born filmmakers Anya Tsyrlina & Sid Iandovka, friends and collaborators over many years. While they are now based in Switzerland and the United States respectively, their most recent work investigates the unseen and perhaps imperceptible aspects of culture and life in the late Soviet period through moving images made during that time. As such, horizōn is a work of archival collage and repurposement, the filmmakers poring over its celluloid images with myriad digital technologies to produce something not from the past, nor from the future, but out of time completely.
The project was born out of frustration with archival access to images from this context, especially when it is impossible to answer the question of what one is looking for. The only workable solution was to pay a man who digitises a random collection of old film reels he found in the garbage, choosing one at random and forwarding the scan. The surprising images that we see all come from this short reel. There’s the construction of what might be a rocketship, or an undersea vessel. Or are they building the world’s largest film projector? Young women sit in an auditorium. A young man contemplates a caterpillar, the rungs of its body rhyming visually with his inexplicably wavy hair. Crumbling volumes of text are falling in on themselves in a shabby archive, perhaps suggesting that the knowledge accumulated cannot be properly utilised within the current systemic means.
These images are shuffled around, recombined, stretched out and continually visited by a ghostly light with which the people seemingly interact. horizōn certainly works at a level beneath language, its frisson a result of image, sound and light combining to form a compact treatise on the strangeness and beauty of this cultural context. It also provided a process through which their next work phenomenon was completed, though instead of found footage here the filmmakers cut their own archival video footage towards similar ends. —Herb Shellenberger