The project of artist Tim Parchikov includes architectural photographs of Magnitogorsk — the city of the postindustrial era, shown by the author as a city of post-apocalypse. Magnitogorsk — the child of one of the greatest utopias of last century. It was the first «monogorod» (a city built around a production plant) built in the 1930s and was formed in the empty land in the southern Urals around the Magnetic Mountain, which is where the city’s name comes from. Today the Magnetic Mountain has almost disappeared. All the ore has already been dug up and the raw materials now come from Kazakhstan. The city’s population comes close to half a million. This is one of the most polluted cities in the world. The smog clouds never lifts from the city, and they give off a yellow light with pink shadows. This is still a «monogorod» and depends, more than ever, on the factory. All small and middle sized businesses of the city are connected to the production. The airport, the city administration, including the appointment of the mayor, all depend on the production’s management, that also responsible for the support of a hockey team as well as a loyalty to the party in power. It seems that time has stopped in this city. The utopia has been buried. There are no more illusions, but the disillusions are also no longer felt. It is well known that the situation is not stable, that the new economic crisis, or competition from the Chinese metal market can destroy the factory at any point, and the city could descend into an economic and humanitarian catastrophe. This hidden threat is constantly present in the city and this element threads through all the aspects of life here.
PHOTOGRAPHY. 'MAGNITOGORSK' SERIES. 2010-2011.
PHOTOGRAPHY. "BARRIERS OF VISION" SERIES. 2015.
The Barriers of Vision project was created in the Canary Islands. The volcanic origin of this archipelago not only flooded the natural landscape with lava flows, but also influenced the civilisation process on these seven islands.
When you come to the Canary Islands the eye must reconfigure if you intend to see, and not just look.
The eye is the part of our brain with access to the fresh air, making it more comfortable for us to see what appears to be comprehensible and tangible. In the Canary Islands I wanted to disconnect from visual analogies, to cease my habitual awareness of the visible and enter this space almost blind, just as Borges scarcely distinguished light from darkness when he began his travels in later years.
I wanted to surmount the barriers of vision and, paradoxically, to capture this state in visual form.
On the archipelago the magic of the past and present were glimpsed through each other, like conflicting images projected one on the other. Only the gap between them could be enumerated in millions of years.
Beyond the visible natural or architectural landscape there appeared force lines of spatial tension.
I devised a hunt for the invisible, and this demanded radical readjustment.
Lines from a poem by my father, the poet Alexei Parshchikov, were spinning through my mind:
The paths of vision appeared, tangled like mycelium,
I achieved changes, in so far as I could change.
As in the novels of Asturias or Márquez, the landscape could fly or sink at the same moment, the small could become overwhelmingly vast, and each coastal village could claim a unique mystery.
PHOTOGRAPHY. 'SUSPENSE' SERIES. 2005-2014.
PHOTOGRAPHY AS EVIDENCE
The association of photography with death and crime appeared almost as soon as the new technology became available – if not physically, then at least as a concept. In his classic essay The body and the archive, Alan Sekula gives an example of lyrics invented by Londoners after the French government announced Daguerre's invention. The last verse predicts how the London police will benefit from photography: according to the anonymous author, now all disorderly conduct will turn from fiction into the indisputable truth. The technology of the photographic print immediately seemed to be designated for detective investigations. And this was long before European science saw the emergence of the evidential paradigm (Carlo Ginzburg's term): Daguerre announced his technology in 1839, while both Giovanni Morelli's first articles on his method of attributing works of art based on small but distinctive details and Conan Doyle's first Sherlock Holmes stories appeared only in the 1870s.
This point is important to keep in mind when we are talking about Timothy Parchikov's photographs grouped under the general title Suspense. Parchikov views his experiments in the context of the evidential paradigm. His pictures are rich with references to what has happened, or what is going to happen, although they don't directly speak of the unfortunate result or the imminent danger. This is, in fact, suspense – that feeling of hanging there that is usually accompanied by rising minor chords in the movies. We should note that the philosophical concept of photography is intensely minor, as well from Andre Bazin, who compared the photographic image with mummification, to Roland Barthes, whose term punctum is as much about detail and assembly as it is about the big fat dot at the end of human life. Photography, in essence, is a necessary prerequisite for the emergence of the evidential paradigm. Neither Morelli's method nor Holmes' method would be possible without the mediation of the copy's reality. But the copy is not so much a mirror of the original as it is a pretext for fragmentation, for separating it into elements and cataloging the evidence. Of course, not every photo shows us the scene of a crime, but there are a surprising number of such examples in legendary shots. The battlefield is Earth: think of the Spanish Republicans in Robert Capa's photo and Eddie Adams' lone Vietcong. Cartier-Bresson's The Decisive Moment is not too far from Baudrillard's idea of photographs as murders. And because it really is a unique moment, in the broadest sense, death is actually present before and after each shot: the instantaneousness emphasizes (and reinforces) its inevitability. Parchikov deepens this meaning by staging a mise en scene in film noir style: shadows, twilight, and dramatic illumination of the speaking parts. It all points to the fact that the evidence will be found, but its location remains a question of our personal delusions and sensory investment in panic. Thus Parschikov's photos become checks that we cash out with our own fear.