During rehearsal an actor slips in and out of character. She stumbles, forgets her line. She pauses, repeats the line, hears director’s notes, asks questions, repeats the line with a new emphasis, adds a gesture. I often observed this work from the wings of Karl Marx State Theater, in Saratov, where I grew up. I was drawn then, as I am now, to the actor’s ability, through rehearsal, through embodiment, and through intended emphases and fortuitous accidents, to reframe and renew the script.
When I began speaking English I started rehearsing the script of immigration, stumbling, forgetting my lines, making them my own. Much of this script is about translation. With the generative labor of the actor in mind, I understand translation less as about a loss of meaning or authenticity than as a productive reiteration, a form of close reading. I’m fascinated by typos, notes, mistranslations, edits, and other creative noise that accompanies transmission from one language to another. In the studio, I pursue this noise wherever it appears: in materials, images, and texts as they disseminate ever farther from their origin.
Across my practice in video, images, and objects, my guiding methodologies are close reading, rehearsal, and translation. I stalk the moments when the definitions scripted into the role of a public sculpture, a Lenin monument, an archival photograph, or an iPhone application begin to break down. By revealing that which emerges in dissemination or between roles, that which begins off stage or outside of the frame, I invite the viewer into the strange, intimate, and contested space of rehearsal.