Thursday, May 14, 2009

Eve Sussman and Rufus Corporation, "White on White: The Pilot (just like being there)" @ Winkleman Gallery


Eve Sussman and Rufus Corporation
White on White: The Pilot
(just like being there)

May 15 – June 20, 2009
Opening: Friday, May 15, 6-8 PM

Founded on a premise of 60's-era-evil-think-tank-meets-traveling circus, the group of collaborators known as Rufus Corporation have embarked on an expedition-cum-artwork that morphs into a cinema verité thriller as it moves from Moscow to the Caspian. They encounter time capsules and testaments to both past and present failed utopias. Their search, as they log the banalities of daily life, is for places, devices and people that are prescient as premonitions for the future.

In July 2007, inspired by Kazimir Malevich’s manifestos and the conundrums of ‘space', Eve Sussman, Claudia de Serpa Soares, and Jeff Wood attempted to gain access to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the middle of the Central Asian steppe (the highly secured facility that is the heart of the Russian space program and the launch site of Yuri Gagarin, first man in orbit). Their goal was to resolve Wood's hankering to 'go to space,' a desire he felt was perfectly in line with Malevich's declaration "I am the chairman of space.” Stopped at the gate and detained by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB), fingerprinted, iris scanned, and debriefed, they were later released from the Baikonur police station onto the platform of a train bound for the Aral Sea — site of endless salt residue, where roaming camels and horses rest in the shade of rusting hulks in what locals call the ‘ship graveyard’, one of the biggest environmental disasters known to man. They continued on to a city described to them as the 'arm-pit' of the steppe. An ordered numerical Soviet era utopia built where the desert meets the Caspian. A perfectly planned environment that lacked the essential substance of human life: water.

So began Eve Sussman and Rufus Corporation's latest venture. Known for their previous projects 89 Seconds at Alcázar and The Rape of the Sabine Women, Rufus is in production on an expedition-cum-art-work that will culminate in a cinema verité thriller, White on White, that they describe as an improvised film noir culled from everyday life on the road between Moscow and the Caspian. Over the next year, episodes of the project will be released as "TV shows" using every possible platform, including the art gallery, as a means for broadcast. Similarly, cinematic convention is just one of the devices employed. The series also includes photographs, storyboards, installations and sculptures, each episode inevitably ending with " be continued...."

Winkleman Gallery is very pleased to present the first of these episodes: "White on White: The Pilot (just like being there)," which will feature two artworks - points of departure on the subjects of time, space, past, future and Sussman's constant subject 'dailiness'. The centerpiece of White on White: The Pilot (the title a word play on the television pilot and famed astronaut and test pilot Yuri Gagarin) is Yuri's Office, a set for the upcoming TV show. Based on Sussman's photograph, Yuri's Office, this detailed recreation, by Sussman and Nicolas Locke, is inspired by the museumification of the real office of Gagarin. The installation takes on the desire to freeze time, to impose cryogenics on space when it is still untenable to freeze people. A second video installation How to tell the future from the Past, v.2 (HtttFftPv.2), by Eve Sussman and Angela Christlieb – shot during a 72-hour train journey across the steppe – conceptualizes time with the manifestation of humanity as the constant, as daily life – history in the making – runs backwards and forwards simultaneously. HtttFftPv.2 elevates the characteristics of humanity that transcend time, exposing us, un-empowered against it. Both pieces act as a visual 'captain's log', marking time, as if to build a dam of toothpicks against the deluge. To read more go to:

For more information, please contact Edward Winkleman at 212.643.3152 or


"On the twelfth of april, 1961, a Soviet spacecraft called 'Vostok' was put into orbit around the earth; and I was aboard."

"Before the flight I received the appropriate training. The training program was designed by our scientists. I studied the technology as well and was well prepared for spaceflight.
"Before the flight I felt excellent. I was confident that the flight would be successful. The technology was perfect and very reliable; and neither my colleagues, nor the scientists, engineers, and technicians, nor myself, ever doubted that the spaceflight would be a success.
"During the flight, my condition was excellent.
"On the active segment at the time of launch, the effect of overloads, vibration, and other stresses had no depressing effects on my condition; and I was able to operate efficiently according to my flight program.
"After the ship reached orbit and separated from the carrier rocket, weightlessness set in. Initially this was an unusual sensation, even though, briefly, I had experienced it previously. But I soon grew accustomed to the weightlessness, and continued to execute my program. It is my subjective opinion that the effect of weightlessness does not affect the body's ability to work or perform physiological functions.
"In the course of the flight I conducted effective work according to the program. During the flight I took food and water and maintained continuous radio communication with the Earth through several channels, both by telephone and by telegraph. I observed the operation of the space equipment and reported to the Earth, wrote down the data into my log, and recorded them on a tape recorder. I felt quite well and retained my ability to work during the entire period of weightlessness. Then, at a certain time according to the flight program, the command was given to land. The braking engine was activated and the speed was set that was necessary for the ship to land. The landing was conducted according to the flight program, and I was happy to meet our friendly Soviet people on the ground. The landing occurred at the programmed site.
"I would like to say a few words about the observations I conducted while in space.
"The Earth from an altitude of 175-327 kilometers can be seen quite well. The view of the Earth's surface is similar to what one observes from a flight at high altitude on a jet plane. Large mountain ranges, big rivers, large forest tracts, shorelines, and island are all clearly discernible. One can see the clouds covering the Earth's surface very well, the shadow of these clouds on the Earth. The sky is completely black; and against the background of this black sky the stars appear somewhat brighter and more distinct. The Earth has a very characteristic, very beautiful blue halo, which is seen well when you observe the horizon. There is a smooth color transition from tender blue, to blue, to dark blue and purple, and then to the completely black color of the sky. It is a very beautiful transition.
"As the spaceship emerges from the shadow, the sun disappears and it is seen translucent through the Earth's atmosphere. Then the halo acquires a slightly different tinge. At the surface near the Earth's horizon, one could observe the bright orange color, which then passed through the entire rainbow spectrum to light and dark blue, purple, and the black sky.
"The ship enters the Earth's shadow very quickly. All of a sudden it is dark, and you can see nothing. I did not observe anything on the Earth's surface at that time because nothing could be seen. Apparently I was flying over the ocean, because if there were large cities, then probably city lights would be visible.
"The stars can be seen quite well. The emergence from the Earth's shadow is also very sharp and quick.
"I easily endured the effects of space flight because I had been well trained. At the present time I feel very well.
"Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR Major
Y.A. Gagarin 15 April 1961."

The 'Columbus letter' of space travel:

Labels: gallery exhibition


Anonymous C L J said...

The show looks great.

5/16/2009 10:42:00 AM  

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