Dreaming of Andy and the Times Changed

Veronica Shimanovskaya. Dreaming of Andy and the Times Changed 04, 2021. Digital video still image.

Originally conceived as a 9-screen video projection immersive installation (each screen ±2200 x 2650 cm, there are some other configurations possible). Its similar but not identical audio tracks create a polyphonic syncopated audio in the exhibition space. It’s a poetic reflection on the state of our world from the sanctuary of personal space as an artist. Formally seen through the lens of a perceived sixties’ pop culture New York, and a tribute to the world of its phenomenon – Andy Warhol.

The piece is a contemplation on how much our world has changed since the sixties, to the point that we can all be underwater some time soon. ‘Ophelia’ or eternal feminine being a main image is a musing on the role and fate of women of now and then. It references a universal feeling we all may have, independently of our social and gender position, of being ‘underwater’ in our individual struggles. Water takes the role of both a metaphor and an element of which the planet and its inhabitants’ life depends completely.

Inspired by Andy’s use of the printmaking technique that yields various derivative results from the same image printed in a different way, as in the case of the iconic Marilyn Monroe print series, I used video filters in the similar way. It was a reflection on both a personal transformation and the global change that is affecting all of us in the most dramatic way. (the grain in the image is also a reference to the image quality in the 60ss)

The process of applying video filters to the same footage has brought a completely different world of the sixties into an almost nostalgic forefront. And, as I was working on the soundtrack, I have settled on Erik Satie Gymnopédie No.1, and the Velvet Underground. 

Interesting to note: I am not a scholar of Andy Warhol, and when I started this work, I learned that Erik Satie’s Vexations (1.5 minutes long and played continuously for 18 hours) was an inspiration for Andy’s film ‘Sleep’. 

“On Sunday, May 27, 2007 the Tate Modern in London showed Andy Warhol’s Sleep accompanied by Erik Satie’s Vexations from 7:30 pm to 3:00 pm the following day as part of their “Long Weekend” series. Pianists included Gavin Bryars, Michael Nyman, Joshua Rifkin and Tania Chen. The event was introduced with a special performance by John Giorno and a panel discussion was also held which included the writer Branden W Joseph. The blurb for the event claimed that “Warhol was inspired to complete the film [Sleep] with a new repetitive editing structure after attending the writer and composer John Cage’s (1912–92) historic 1963 performance at the Pocket Theatre in New York of the French composer Erik Satie’s (1866–1925) epic repetitive work for piano, Vexations, 1893.” In 2008 the claim was repeated by Emma Lavigne, curator at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, who wrote in an essay published in the Warhol Live exhibition catalogue that the impact made by the Vexations concert “was decisive and inspired the artist to the unprecedented, repetitive structure of the film Sleep (1963).” However, there is no documentary evidence that Warhol actually attended the concert or that the concert did indeed “inspire” him to construct his film with a “new” repetitive structure.

John Cale, one of the pianists at the 1963 Vexations concert and later a member of the Velvet Underground, managed by Andy Warhol, recalls the circumstances of the concert in his autobiography but does not mention Warhol being there.”

Although Cage did not recall Warhol being at Vexations, the writer George Plimpton claimed that Warhol was, indeed, there. According to Plimpton, Warhol told him he had attended “the whole thing.””I remember riding in a large freight elevator with Andy in the early Sixties – it may have been the one that rose slowly to the Factory – and mentioning in passing that I had been reading an account in The New Yorker of an Erik Satie musical composition being played over and over for eighteen hours by relays of pianists in a recital room in Carnegie Hall. Apparently the composer had specified that this was how he wanted the piece – which was only a minute and a half long – performed. I mentioned it to Andy only because I thought he might be vaguely interested – after all, he was doing these eight-hour films of people sleeping. It never occurred to me that he knew of his concert, or of Satie, since it wouldn’t have surprised me a bit if he’d never heard of Satie. His reaction startled me. He said ‘Ohhh, ohhh, ohhh!’ I’d never seen his face so animated. It made a distinct impression. Between ohhh’s he told me that he’d actually gone to the concert and sat through the whole thing. He couldn’t have been more delighted to be telling me about it.” (source: https://warholstars.org/andy_warhol_sleep_vexations.html)

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