From Scratch
to Scratch

Nikolay Karabinovych

The Story of an Egg

Nikolay Karabinovych, The Story of an Egg, 2020, 8 min 10 sec © Nikolay Karabinovych

L’île est ce que la mer entoure, et ce dont on fait le tour, elle est comme un œuf. Œuf de la mer, elle est ronde. Tout se passe comme si, son désert, elle l’avait mis autour d’elle, hors d’elle. Ce qui est désert, c’est l’océan tout autour. C’est en vertu des circonstances, pour d’autres raisons que le principe dont elle dépend, que les navires passent au loin et ne s’arrêtent pas. Elle est désertée plus qu’elle n’est un désert. Deleuze G. L’Île déserte et autres textes (1953-1974)

The island is what the sea surrounds and what we travel around. It is like an egg. An egg of the sea, it is round. It is as though the island had pushed its desert outside. What is deserted is the ocean around it. It is by virtue of circumstance, for other reasons than the principle on which the island depends, that ships pass in the distance and never come ashore. The island is deserted more than it is a desert. Deleuze G. L’Île déserte et autres textes (1953-1974) 

A steady connection breaks up.
Three points-islands are disposed of on a plane.
Ghent, Odessa, Venice.
The triangle which the artist is drawing.

Let’s add the time (a timeline): It begun c. the mid-1420s and completed before 1432 and is attributed to the Early Flemish painters and brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck. In 2011, at the 54th Venice Biennale, Oksana Mas shows a copy of the altar of the Van Eyck brothers made of eggs. Let’s divide the narrative into chapters. Like in a big novel. I will use a found video from open access on YouTube in each chapter.

This is the story of one Egg. Remember Bataille. The story not of the eye, but of the egg. The story of one egg. If to pronounce this phrase with my Eastern European accent – it will sound like the story of Van Eyck. Try it now.

(Chapter 1, found video 1 – Ukrainian TV news story about the Venice Biennale 2011)

The photo of the Ghent Altarpiece is shown with the iPad, in the hands of the Ukrainian curator in Venice. His eyes are full of joy. What sounds can be heard in such a moment? An Ode to Joy, a crooked anthem of the European Union. Star-eggs. Joy in Venice. Of course, the version of Rambo Amadeus is closer to me. But now it’s important to overlay another version (more found footage – this time the sound – silly flute-nozzle performance of the anthem).

(Chapter 2, found video 2  – promo video of the Oksanas’ project, created with a spirit of a presentation of smartphones apps).

This “slightly” pathos tone from the video, you need to dilute it with something.
I recall John Waters. Eggs Eggs! Screaming Divine’s mom from Pink Flamingos. She couldn’t have appeared in a better moment.

But what is going on here on the whole? Ghent egg altar, the participation of Ukraine in the Venice Biennale, forthcoming protests. Isn’t it a sort of description of a plot to a trendy film about contemporary art, in the spirit of The Square? No. This is reality. Much harder and denser. How could such a story develop? After being shown in Venice, led by Achille Bonito Oliva, the altar starts to live its independent life. It is sent on tour. One of these tour points is Odessa. There the installation is greeted by the group of Russian imperialists, Orthodox radicals.

(Chapter 3, found video 3, propaganda video edited by Orthodox activists. It is important to note that I did not make any internal editing, and the video is given exactly as it is).

Here the main event of the film takes place – the meeting. Russian imperial colonialism meets with western universalism. Who will win this fight? This little island of meaning, this round egg.
Anti-modern buffoonery gains the fleeting legitimacy of questioning: Why?
Who is the barbarian here? This gap, this crack.

No, not the Russian imperial flag is in this man’s hands. It is a signal light, rhyming with something far distant “eastern”, let’s say. Of course, we are talking about contemporary art. Portable audio system for propaganda. Beard flying with the wind. Disjointed, slightly trembling speech, reinforced by a portable amplifier. In the video I found on YouTube, the anthem of Tsarist Russia was superimposed on this image. But if it could sound together, what if Beethoven hears suddenly? What is the difference between these 2 hymns in general?

Who can break this cacophony?

Who can stop all this, cut it short, with a fun song?

Of course, the chanson singer. This is a special image, the machist energy of this genre is reduced to naught here. Why does he wear a mask? Well, after all, quarantine. He sings a fun song about eggs. This song is by Yuz Oleshkovsky. Here another line appears in the film;

The video ends.

Perhaps it was necessary to put a talking egg in this video – hello to Agnieszka Polska. But is it not too obvious?
It turns out that Oksana Mas graduated from the same university as me, but only a few years earlier.
This is a crack that becomes a pillar.
Who now owns the Ghent Altarpiece?

“Everything in the right place” sings to us Yuz Oleshkovsky:

The sun of the world shines in the clear sky
And everyone has one dream in the soul:
So that finally, the communists and imperialists
take to heard the teachings of Christ.