The Hymns of Muscovy, 2017
The video is a trip to the planet Muscovy, which is an upside down space twin of the city of Moscow. As the title of the work suggests, the journey also takes us back in time. Gliding along the surface of the planet, we look down to the sky and see historic architectural styles fly by – the exuberant Socialist Classicism aka Stalinist Empire, the laconic and brutish Soviet Modernism, and the hodgepodge of contemporary knock-offs and revivals of the styles of the past. An essential companion to this journey through time and space are Hymnic Variations on the Soviet anthem by the composer Alexander Manotskov. The anthem was written in 1943 and has undergone three editions of lyrics yet musically remained unchanged to now serve as the official anthem of the Russian Federation. Manotskov used an early recording of the anthem as source material to create three electronic variations each corresponding to an architectural style. As if in a twist of Goethe’s phrase, architecture plays its frozen music.