Deimantas Narkevicius

By O'Reilly, Sally | Art Monthly, December 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Deimantas Narkevicius


O'Reilly, Sally, Art Monthly


Deimantas Narkevicius

BFI Southbank Gallery London

1 October to 29 November

A pastoral church spire at dusk, the optimistic East Berlin radio tower, a redemptive MRI tunnel, a brimming bookshop, a dining hall full of jolly geriatrics, an attractive and diligent young working woman ... Deimantas Narkevicius's newly commissioned film, Into the Unknown, 2009, comprises a montage of image and audio that appears to describe a peaceful and productive society of fulfilled individuals. The footage comes from the ETV Collection, which describes itself as: 'the largest collection of productions from the former Soviet Union, Communist China, the European Eastern block, Chile and Cuba, which survives in Western Europe. It is the legacy of the work of Stanley Forman, one of the leading figures in the Communist Party of Great Britain.' . Narkevicius's selection of footage unhitches the imagery from its original usage--and in some cases from its audio so that we might reappraise just what it is that we are seeing and how we are interpreting it.

Into the Unknown focuses on everyday life in East Germany during the German Democratic Republic and appraises the mechanisms of archives as well as the sociopolitical situation that produced its content. With a broad experience of semiotics we can read fluently the signifiers of prosperity, productivity and tranquillity and, more importantly, we understand why these meanings were constructed in the first place. Socialist Realism, the mode of cultural production of the Soviet era that was devised and regulated by the state, is commonly regarded as propaganda that is inherently manipulative and restrictive of creative freedom. But while propaganda is most commonly associated with totalitarian regimes such as National Socialism and Soviet Communism, it has also been aligned with more stealthy forms of opinion forming, such as advertising and political campaigns within self-declared liberal democracies. Although this is mainly because of scepticism about capitalism's core processes and values, it is also the natural stretching of a word that etymologically, by way of 'propagation', is connected with mediating concepts such as dissemination, education and empowerment--the positive flipside of coercion, indoctrination and control.

The high ground of historical hindsight, then, offers us a view of Socialist Realism as instrumental to a totalitarian regime that proved corrupt and ultimately self-destructive, but a consideration of original intentions reveals more nuanced possibilities.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Deimantas Narkevicius
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?