Liste Базель – Кирилл Савченков: Fireworks and Gunpowder

Table-top game, installation, performance.

In his recent works, he examines how cognition and mediation work amidst the increased volatility found throughout the general condition of the world. The artist describes volatility as “the current circumstances in which due to the developed technology and accessible Internet, each of us can freely express his or her own identity, opinions and worldviews. When the number of these belief systems grows disproportionally, when their vectors are opposite and they start to overlap, the volatility emerges.”

For the artist, the crisis of volatility directly connects with the concept of living in the post-truth and post-privacy world of information transparency, global surveillance and digital proxy wars. These post-truth phenomenon creates conditions in which facts can be combined and interpreted to mean just about anything. Thus, while depicting facts the key factor becomes the subjective emotional background. He compares this state of surrounding ourselves with subjective information bubbles to the state of “the elsewhere”, which he investigated in previous projects. The idea was first developed by the anthropologist Alexei Yurchak in his groundbreaking book, Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More (2006), which described the Soviet peoples’ experience of internal emigration. Outwardly, many were living inside the system and functioning as part of it, but on the inside they were out of it. Openly fighting against the system would mean recognizing the regime, while the bottom line was simply to not notice it— to be elsewhere.

In his newly commissioned work for the 12th Gwangju Biennale called Fireworks and Gunpowder, Savchenkov explores the possibility to form a new type of “the elsewhere” (or communities of “the elsewhere”) amidst a continuous clash between democracies and autocracies in our digital media age.

He examines new schemes to navigate this late volatile world when the boundaries between the given and the created, human and non-human, body and intellect, politics and technology are blurred, which provides ample opportunities for hybrid regimes and political abuse. He looks into the issue of instrumentalizing “the elsewhere” concept in the new power relations existing against the backdrop of proxy policies. The artist presents a gathering-style tabletop game as the simplest form for both education and visualization of these invisible processes.

Fireworks and Gunpowder is based off a card game Collection the CIA uses to train their employees in order to apply different intelligence tactics in addressing the pressing crises of today. In turn, Collection was developed on the concept of Pandemic board game when the players use combined effort to fight deadly viruses that threaten to spread all over the world. Likewise, Fireworks and Gunpowder initiates an act of mutual crisis management and urges players to team up and raise the question of how we can coexist in the crisis of volatility and form new power structures in our current “medianaturecultural” world order. In order to achieve a high level of objectivity, Savchenkov assigns stark diversity to the game’s roles— both human (“the elsewhere” type) and non-human (such as an ocean, a bone, sand, and artificial intelligence)—thus forming trans-species alliances that are more likely to produce unbiased scenarios to solve critical confrontations facing the world today.

– Vika Dushkina

Liste Базель – Кирилл Савченков: Fireworks and Gunpowder

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