Detaching the vertical and the horizontal
A small robotic object, emitting the typical mechanical driving sounds, opens Sleeping Duty: a performative narration by Oleg Soulimenko in several condensed, sensitive and disruptive formations that rids itself of linearity, separates vertical and horizontal planes from each other and yet manages to achieve unity. Stefan Voglsinger’s drumming stirs, swells and dies down, making rhythmic sequences seem like a physical liberation from chaos. Suddenly, a heated debate erupts, a mixture of made-up and existing expressions. I cling to familiar scraps of words like a lifeline in an effort – but failing – to establish a linguistic structure, and follow the torrent’s content which isn’t without humour. Bodies, in turn, materialise so as to be perceived as persons and then be reified into bodies again, for example in the expressive back views of performers Daria and Katerina Nosik, which, side by side, capture the differences in their similarity. The muscles that carry the tension recall the relaxation that vanished earlier and will re-emerge again later. Figures disappear behind textile architectures, bring them to life and glide, stumble, creep across Alfredo Barsuglia’s stage-set islands. They keep re-forming in two dimensions, creating constructivist associations by way of geometric colour fields. I am reminded of Malevich’s Suprematism and the way he expanded painting into architecture, the interplay between two-dimensionality and three-dimensionality, and the importance of the universe for Russian Cosmism and as a source of inspiration for the Russian avant-garde. According to Nikolai Fyodorov, for example, the cosmos was the primordial source of knowledge, which, generated by astronomy, was applied in architecture. Death, resurrection and immortality were conceptualised on an ambivalent time-space axis of technological progress, which could only achieve salvation by means of the fourth dimension. Revolutionary new beginnings through techno-futuristic and biopolitical utopias, of which spirituality and the mind were integrative components, formed the basis for socio-technological discoveries. Sleeping Duty (borrowed from Sleeping Beauty) also reminds me, with a chill running down my spine, of Lenin’s glass sarcophagus by Konstantin Melnikov, in which sleep and death unite in a suspended temporality, and go beyond the boundaries of the embalmed materiality of the body owing to an everlasting cult of the mind. Does an embodied duty lie dormant in an in-between state these days, too? What form would it take in an imagined diagnosis by Vladimir Sorokin? In building a spaceship-like device, Oleg Soulimenko draws our attention to the simplicity of collective action: hands turning screws together and bodies stabilising the scaffolding.
The separation between horizontal and vertical, or, to use Fyodorov’s words, the separation between life and death, occurs as the construct advances into the illusory, imagined universe of desire, and leaves me bewildered. I ask: Where do we find our utopian dreams of reformation today, in times of power-hungry technological excesses that seek to adapt, fragment, optimise or even obliterate by military force the vulnerable, spontaneous, non-conformist, creative, rhythmic and connecting aspects of life in an algorithmic accounting logic? Perhaps the line between utopia and dystopia is finer than we would like it to be.
Dominika Glogowski is an artist and a researcher on subjects including resource depletion, energy transition and (bio)diversity. She devises and supervises cross-sectoral projects between art, science and industry that create critical interaction spaces through performative moments of experience. Dominika Glogowski has founded the think tank artEC/Oindustry (artecoindustry.com) and co-founded the art hub Deep Earth Synergies (deepearthsynergies.org) in the UK/Great Britain as well as the Vienna-based association Flechtwerk (flechtwerk.or.at). She has collaborated with research institutions (KLI for Evolution and Cognition Research Austria), the mining industry (Cornish Lithium Ltd., UK) and universities (Unicamp, USP São Paulo, Brazil).
 Boris Groys (ed.), Russian Cosmism, Cambridge, Mass. 2018, p. 55.
 Michael Chase, “Pavel Florensky on Space and Time”, in: Schole 9/1, 2015, p. 105–118.
 Ellen Pearlman, “The Resurgence of Russian Cosmism”, in: PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 41/2, 2019, p. 85–92; doi.org/10.1162/pajj_a_00475.
 Oleg Soulimenko in conversation with the author, Vienna, 20/12/2022.
 Jonathan Brooks Platt, “Snow White and the Enchanted Palace: A Reading of Lenin’s Architectural Cult”, in: Representations 129/1, 2015, p. 86–115; doi.org/10.1525/rep.2015.129.1.86.
 Christina Lodder, Maria Kokkori, Maria Mileeva (eds.), Utopian Reality: Reconstructing Culture in Revolutionary Russia and Beyond, Leiden/Boston 2013.