Dominated by lone figures amid impersonal and imposing structures, the video for Kuznechik (or Grasshopper) by musician Alexey Petrakov is grounded deep in Moscow’s industrial landscape. Accompanied by a backdrop of bright synth, the clip was filmed in just three days in the north-west Khoroshovo-Mnevniki neighbourhood, where endless renovation has turned the region into one giant construction site.
Director Sasha Karelina grew up in the area. She describes it as dominated by “vernacular, uncontrolled architecture, appearing ad-hoc, all by itself” — a trend she sees not only in Moscow, but in Russia in general. “I grew up among the endless garages, dovecotes, power stations, car washes, and fences,” she remembers. But those seemingly uninhabitable spaces would always be the first to host an angry manager or security guard, the king who would ask Karelina to stay away or stop shooting: this video is not her first attempt to document her childhood home. “I can’t put up with the fact that my own city does not belong to me. Every public space turns out to be private,” she says.
Karelina and Petrakov were told to leave once, during the shoot: you can hear an angry security guard at almost a minute in, as Petrakov dances idly along a railroad. The scene is a vivid representation of Karelina’s vision of the neighborhood as hyper-realistic documentary theatre. “These repetitive, ubiquitous fragments of the cityscape, as present and real as they seem, are actually slipping away. A car wash that had been in the area for ages was demolished the day we shot.” Karelina says. She imagines her footage as increasingly relevant in the future, as a snapshot of the chaos and evanescence of our time. Despite everything, it is a world that Karelina adores. Petrakov shares the same feeling. Due to be released in late January as part of forthcoming album, Tsvesna, his experimental track is light and hopeful. The carefree lyrics are actually extracts from Soviet avant-garde poetry by Vladimir Khlebnikov and Alexey Kruchenykh. “The lines are purely rhythmical and totally absurd,” Petrakov says, as if to draw a line between the music, the lyrics, and video itself.