Since 2011, Berlinische Gallerie has promoted video art created by Berlin-based artists through its ongoing program ‘12×12’ in the IBB Video Space. Over the course of one year, a dedicated room within the museum presents work by 12 different artists and Sasha Litvintseva‘s films ‘Salarium’ (2017, in collaboration with Daniel Mann) and ‘Asbestos’ (2016, in collaboration with Graeme Arnfield) will take the screen later this week.
As the artist once wrote, ‘Salarium’ departs “from the etymological derivation of both ‘salary’ and ‘soldier’ from ‘salt’ and the film “captures the entanglement of economic, military, and geological forces, which manifests in the figure of the sinkhole.” Through slow moving, languid Israeli landscapes, ‘Salarium’ depicts a ring of three men floating in the Dead Sea, armed soldiers, salt mines, deserts and eventually a warning sign for sink holes ahead. The film continues, following a man around the sink hole area, creating suspense and uneasiness within the viewer’s mind; at any point the man and the artist behind the camera could disappear, dragging the viewer down with them. Addressing the film’s motifs, the artist continued to write, “The sinkhole appears as both visible symptom and active cause of the failure of a colonial project to instrumentalise nature, collapsing together two temporal scales: the micro-histories of Israeli settlements and the slow disaster produced by the exhaustion of natural resources.”
‘Asbestos,’ on the other hand, deals with the titular material, which consists of six naturally occurring silicate minerals and can cause serious and lethal illnesses after prolonged inhalation. However, before its long-term side-effects were discovered, asbestos was commonly used in the construction of buildings because of its unique physical properties, including sound absorption and resistance to fire, heat and electricity. Litvinstseva shot this film in Asbestos, Quebec, a city that’s home to the world’s largest asbestos mine, which closed only five years ago. Using this toxic substance as its overarching framework, the film is, as the artist wrote, “a meditation on the entanglement of the fragility of bodies, the nonlinearity of progress, and the persistence of matter.”
Born in Russia, Litvinstseva is now based between Berlin and London, where she’s a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths. While her artistic practice focuses on filmmaking, she is also a curator, researcher and co-founder of November Film Festival, a biannual project in London. Her films will be on view at Berlinische Galerie until March 26, 2018.