NIKITA SPIRIDONOV

Dots, Lines, and Zigzags

Mir Cultural Center at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research

Dubna, Russia

This work deals with the tragic fate of Dubna’s amateur film studio, which existed at Mir Cultural Center at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research. Its archive was almost completely lost in a fire in the mid-90s, except for a few reels that miraculously survived.

Dubna has a local tradition of amateur filmmaking. It began back in the Thaw of the 1960s, when the Cultural Center launched theater studios, sports teams, and a movie club that screen films from banned Western directors. During that time, Mir Cultural Center became known as an unofficial hub of contemporary art where visitors could experience works by artists unbound by official Socialist Realist convention (e.g. Tarkovsky, Schnittke, Tselkov). This was also when the amateur movie studio Dubna Films, headed by the physicist G. D. Stoletov, was founded. His 1957 film They Were at the Festival marked the beginning of the studio’s four-decade residence at the Cultural Center.

Through conversations with JINR employees, Spiridonov found out that twelve 16-mm films had survived and were in the keeping of a scientist from the Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions. Spiridonov restored them and used digitalized copies of the footage to create the film Dots, Lines, and Zigzags. Art Prospect will premiere his video and host a discussion with employees and visitors of the JINR’s Mir Cultural Center.

Photos by Dmitry Shvetsov, Vlad Chizhenkov

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Nikita Spiridonov is an artist, composer, curator, and founder of the collective u/n multitude. In 2014, he published a manifesto as part of u/n multitude’s show at Winzavod START that coined the term “political scores” to describe the collective’s genre of performance practice. Their seventh political score, Palace of Culture, was performed at VDNH Park as part of the 6th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art. In 2019, Spiridonov began working on a video trilogy, The Dubna Series, devoted to the history of the Moscow Canal, the Stalin-era purges, and memory politics. The second installation in the cycle, the short film Volga Song, was shown at Message to Man Film Festival in 2020.