Imaginary Life

With everyone’s imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world.

The exhibition by Pavel Matveyev at Cigarrvägen 13, Stockholm, is titled “With everyone’s imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world #3.” A complex and though-provoking title presents a very simple installation of one large scale photographic image to be viewed from an armchair, with headphones of a soundscape, an audio documentation from the same site.
The image he chose was of an abandoned manor house on the outskirts of Moscow. The house was originally an aristocratic palace, but like many buildings of its kind, was converted into a public institution during Soviet times. After the revolution, properties that weren’t converted into sanatoriums or hospitals fell into disrepair. And in turn, those institutions have long since been abandoned.

With everyone’s imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world #3

With everyone’s imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world #3

The specific history of this house, although uncertain, calls into a questioning of what history and cultural identity means in the post-soviet era. Without a ‘golden age’ to fall back upon, how can these fading, decrepit romantic visions be anything more than documents of catastrophe? What image of ‘culture’ can be salvaged from history to remain relevant to today and moving forward? The manor house is viewed through an entanglement of overgrown branches. Dead wood obscuring the view a once splendid, great culture? Or a new, neural network emerging out of the ruins? Maybe both.

The most interesting part of the exhibition is not the image by itself, or image as art, but the decision by the artist to merely wallpaper the gallery with the image and guide the viewer to be seated in a comfortable old-fashioned armchair, to view the work whilst listening to an audio sample taken from the site. The work becomes temporal and highly evocative as you are emerged in the soundscape and the blown up patterns. You can hear and feel that this is a documentary of an abandoned space as you are surrounded by the rustling of leaves and the feint sound of dogs barking in the distance. It is a catastrophe that has happened. It is too late. You wait for a narrative or voice to appear, some semblance of human presence, but it never does. The audio is on a 3-minute loop, offering no answers and no conclusions. You almost start to hallucinate traces of human life. Can you hear voices or music in the background or is that sound from outside the gallery, the here and now seeping in through the corners? For a few minutes you are thrown into a powerful drama in this space. But it is emotion observed, not filtered, emotion filled with gentle acceptance.

Elena Fanailova describes Matveyev’s work as a contemplation of the “post-Soviet, post-cultural, post-historic space devoid of emotive meaning.” But the work itself is far from lacking in emotion: you are caught somewhere between a photograph, a still image and a film you once saw. It’s like watching a Tarkovsky film for the first time, but even that analogy is far too obvious. When so much of our consumption of images, still and moving, happens in the digital realm, this is a space in between, a ‘Russian’ sensibility in exile. You are a foreigner to the experience but complicit in it. Fanailova writes: “There is no pity, no nostalgia, only the purity of observation: photography and sound. This is post-history, post-culture, post-game.”

Whether this is a questioning of a image-making, a nostalgic longing for a meaningful contemporary cultural identity, or a personal coming-to-terms-with-history, Matveyev captures your heart through your senses with a sensitive and elegant intervention. He swiftly avoids the work becoming bombastic or clichéd by merely pointing us to experience an image in a new way again. It’s optimistic: your imagination is not atrophied; it just needs to be awakened gently. Matveyev’s exhibition is a commentary on all the consumption of all ‘culture’, bringing into question the relentless flow of images we experience on a daily basis in bite-sized packages of ‘history.’ Imagination is not dead or atrophied. But we must understand that images contain a tremendous power to influence on the way we think. They direct our awareness, and by doing so, shape our world view and our collective memory -no matter who we are or where we are from.

About the artist
Pavel graduated from Moscow State University’s faculty of journalism in 2002, and in 2006-2007 studied photography at the University of Brighton, UK. In 2012 he received his Master’s degree in Fine Arts from Konstfack in Sweden, where he is now a permanent resident.
In his work Pavel Matveyev explores connections between the private and the public, reflecting on nostalgia, melancholy and the luxury of boredom, often investigating notions of the gaze and the poetic image. In this process he employs simple tools in the form of photographic and audio recordings. His works are held in private collections in Sweden, UK, France, Norway and Russia and he has exhibited at Konstfack, Gävle konstcentrum and Arkitekturmuseet, Stockholm.

About the space
Cigarrvägen 13 is a 30-square-metre art space run by Stockholm-based artists Ami Kohara, Frida Krohn, Ylva Trapp, Johan Wahlgren, Helena Piippo Larsson, Maryam Fanni and Lisa Renvall. Together they form an artists collective who aim to make it easier for all types of local artists to exhibit their work. Cigarrvägen 13 has been opened with support of Stockholms stad.

Story of Water

STORY OF WATER mood trailer from imaginarylife on Vimeo.
By Tanya, Peter & Friends.

Story of Water is film about love, language and loss. The films form a portrait of two people we never see; the filmmaker, a woman who has come back to Stockholm to search for her missing lover. She meets people who knew him, interviewing them about their connection with him and why he disappeared. These interviews form the backbone of the narrative.

Non-actors were interviewed without a script, and asked not to mention the names of the (real) people they speak about. Speaking only in the ‘you’ and ‘he/she’ form, their words build up a portrait of the two lovers, through real life stories that express in everyone’s second language, their own life ‘philosophy’ – how they came to live in Stockholm, and how one person’s identity is never fixed, but contains facets of all the places we have lived in, all the people we meet, and those we have loved and lost.

In the story, the girl puts up stickers in Stockholm to try and find her lover. As part of the making of the film, real stickers were put up in cities across the world. People who saw those stickers wrote back and spread more stickers in their cities. In the film, we start to see that the girl has been searching for him all over the world. Photographs of the stickers and anonymous e-mail responses are included in the  film, as texts and in the sound track.

Story of Water is shot on Super 8, 16mm and digital video, forming an overlapping narrative that crosses memory, dream and real-life footage in a city that is both separated and connected by water.

It’s a film that has to remain fluid and ambition-less, but the ground work has been done. All we need now is some time to write & weave in footage collected over years – to work further on the soundtrack and audio. This sketch was cut a few years back now. Music by Aki Onda.

If you are interesting in supporting this project in some small way, just drop Tanya & Peter a line on


Westminster Abbey gets Web Savvy

You wouldn’t think of Westminster Abbey as a progressive organisation, but the launch of their new conservation website today has positioned them ahead of the rest, with a beautifully simple approach to opening their doors to the public.
Well executed, unpretentious videos show the work that goes on behind the scenes and interviews the staff responsible for conserving- rather than restoring – the people’s national heritage. And for the average man on the street, the content is surprisingly interesting and accessible.
The website is well worth a visit for anyone, even if you are usually bored to tears by the endless antiques craze on television. This is the real deal, after all, and these new videos will undoubtedly encourage a whole new generation of post-Dan Brown fans to visit the Abbey and see the treasures for themselves. Wander around at your leisure on:
Be sure to drop them a line of feedback, and hopefully this will be just a taste of more to come.

New way to Open Doors to the Public


Imagine if the city…

‘Inception Park’ is a beautifully layered short movie by film director, Fernando Livschitz from Black Sheep Films that imagines Buenos Aires in a whole new way.

Radioshenyen: Roberto and Jane

radioshenyen: Roberto and Jane
February 2012 Spain

“He wants to live long enough to witness a new, post-genomic fiction, one that grasps the interpenetrating loops of inheritance and upbringing so tangled that every cause is some other cause’s effect. One that, through a kind of collaborative writing, shakes free of the prejudices of any individual maker. For now, fiction remains at best a scattershot mood-regulating concoction – a powerful if erratic cocktail like Ritulin for ADHD, or benzodiazepines for the sociophobe. In time, like every other human creation, it will be replaced by better, more precise molecular fine-tuning.”
— from ‘Generosity’ by Richard Powers

I already have the voices: what I’m dreaming right now are the instructions that come with the voices, the writing of the instructions, and the packaging of the writing. A writing like radar and radio and radiation and reckless love sonnets and an everyday kind of yesterday; a packaging like homelessness.

In William Gibson’s ‘Spook Country’ there’s a guy who chalks out GPS grids on the floor of whatever structure he is presently staying in and refuses to sleep in the same square twice. I think about him so much – I mean ‘think’ in a nameless, fraying, post-calculative sort of way. The guy’s in deep – real deep – in some ghostly new world that’s coming. A witness to tomorrow’s unimaginable ordinary. People like this make me feel very still, make me able to smile – and disappear. People like this I can trust.

I think about fictional banking and the set of all people who dream of knockin’ in Mitsubishi’s. About landscape poetry and linear deepening and superflatness and cardboard. There are days when every single thought feels like the gift of buddhas. And there are days when I find myself wondering which will disappear first: all my hesitations or all my friends.

“True happiness, we are told, consists in getting out of one’s self; but the point is not only to get out – you must stay out, and to stay out you must have some absorbing errand.” — Henry James

I think about the different ways different writers take us to the edge of the abyss: Roberto Bolano for example, whose ‘2666’ contains a three hundred page section that catalogues the murders of over a hundred women in paragraphs of blank forensic detail wrapped around images of a hallucinatory televisual ‘Mexico'; or Jane Austen, whose graceful and intricate novels contain little UXBs of addressed human sadness, such as when the heroine of ‘Persuasion’ is forced once more to learn ‘the art of knowing our own nothingness beyond our own circle’. I try and imagine Jane Austen inside the world of ‘Spook Country’ or wandering the wastelands that surround the maquiladoras of Bolano’s nightmare. But the real mystery here is this: I imagine her safe.

I look for things to give you that wont waste a second of your time. Things like this 19 minute video diary for instance by war reporter Tim Hetherington, Or these – though I’m a little less confident about them! – these images of I know not what. Mexican ice creams for Jane perhaps, or midnight hats for her to wear in the midst of some absorbing errand. I really dont know.

Until next time




A trailer for a documentary about Mark Hogancamp, who suffered brain damage after a horrendous street attack by five thugs. After coming out of a nine day coma with his memory wiped clean he made a meticulous new world for himself – Marwencol – using action figures, miniature sets and an old camera.

Read more

Tokyo Ga

We were talking about this the other day…


inkQuencer from Sebastian Thielke on Vimeo.

InkQuencer is a step-sequencer that plays music based on camera input.
People can draw patterns on paper and then play back the pattern by holding
the drawing in front of the camera.
The program receives the images from the camera and draws a saled down,
32 by 30 pixel isometric version. On each beat from the metronome, the
scrubber runs through a new column of pixels and plays a sound if the pixel
is black. Via Vimeo

The known universe

From the American Museum of Natural History, The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world’s most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History. The new film, created by the Museum, is part of an exhibition, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan through May 2010.