Denis Romanovski


Phantom Expression 2004-...

  1. curated group exhibition: Phantom Expression, GFZK Leipzig nov.2004-jan.2005
  2. Phantom Expression, video - current version 15 min. (Shown on Öpna Kanalen, a TV channel in Sweden, in May 2006)
  3. Other works and performances within the PhE theme.


GFZK-1, 29.11.04 - 30.01.05

Curated by Lena Prents and Denis Romanovski

Part of >Cultural Territories<, an initiative project of the Federal Cultural Foundation in cooperation with the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig

catalog text

The word phantom normally used to mean a supernatural manifestation and today, according to the "Etymologische Wörterbuch des Deutschen" generally means pretence, illusion, trick of the senses. It is becoming ever more difficult to grasp the sense of a project or the intention of a statement. We form our idea of these from stereotypes and experiences, convictions and prejudices, ideological priorities and media influences. Does the picture thus created still correspond to the original or has a phantom taken its place? And is it not ultimately phantom-like expressions, distorted pictures that are developed and connected together so that they begin to govern social and private life?

The project >Phantom Expression< investigates phantoms and their manifestations on different planes. Its aim is to draw attention to this type of phenomenon, to present it, if not exhaustively, nevertheless in the diversity of its manifestations. The participants in >Phantom Expression< were invited to examine "phantom-like" statements, to simulate their origination and to develop a technique for recognising them.

All the pieces presented are in the nature of a performance. In addition their main interest and sphere of effect lies outside traditional museum-type areas. This exhibition thus largely dispenses with visual stimuli. It depends much more on interactivity with the public and aspires to set off discussion. Since phantoms cannot be seen with the eyes of others, the project lives off the participation of its visitors.

phe_tushinaTatiana Tushina(Belarus)has, in the Internet and for the exhibition rooms of the GfZK, developed a >Phantomoscope<. It is intended to become a door to the world of invisible, hidden symbols and suppressed content, and simultaneously create new realities and methods of recognising them. The >Phantomoscope< illustrates cultural phantoms. In the Net it is represented as a visualised test in which brain-teasers alternate with test questions. It is a game that encourages and promotes intuition and imagination. To get to the next level, you have to guess an arbitrary sign of a phantom. Simultaneously you gather information on various >phantom-like< ideas and forms of expression. In the exhibition rooms, a maze is installed in which access to the next space is made possible by solving a test question.

phe_pmDavide Grassi and Igor Stromajer (Slovenia/Italy) are the inventors of They see problems as a motivating power and spice to everyday life, since the recognition and solution of problems requires a large measure also of creative energy. Therefore the problems have a certain value and can also consequently be placed on the global market. Here problemmarket can be seen as a general commercial partnership, in which are listed the shares of various businesses which deal with problems. Companies buy, sell, rent and lease problems. In its performance on the 28 November in Leipzig, problemmarket will focus on the particular problems of Leipzig.

phe_nilsNils Claesson (Sweden) is installing a box that can be rented for a certain time and used for individual protest. The name >Pudas Box< goes back to an event in Sweden in 1982. Folke Pudas, a taxi driver from the bilingual Swedish district on the border with Finland, had his license withdrawn by the local authorities. In a central square in Stockholm, Folke Pudas set up an improvised wooden box, sat down in it and began a hunger strike that lasted through the winter of 1982/83. The taxi driver, supported by the European Court in Strasbourg, won the dispute. Nils Claesson's invitation to rent the >Pudas Box< for one's own protest purposes was then taken up by several people, some of them prominent figures. This will be possible in Leipzig for the duration of the exhibition.

phevid_igorIgor Savchenko (Belarus), a renowned photographer from Minsk, forwent a graphic representation. In his project >On Love<, he describes numerous scenes from different romantic relationships which arise or could arise in a place, in this case in the city of Leipzig. The naming of real places and times brings the presented situations tangibly close - readers of Savchenko's descriptions need "only" allow a complex story to emerge in their imagination.

phe_victorThe opening performance by Victar Piatrou (Belarus) has the title >White Phantom< and refers to the perception of his homeland Belarus. Precisely in countries where social boundaries are shifting, a critical part of the population develops an intuition for the ephemeral reality that governs living conditions and relationships. In the example of Belarus with its obvious and cynical political manipulations can be observed a "dematerialisation" of an entire country, its people and resources. >The White Phantom< is so to speak the phantom visualisation of a country. In Victar Piatrou's project, Belarus is given a new name, "Tifus Meykell", new symbols and a new flag. Its anthem is replaced by a performance, the goal of its domestic and foreign policy is the conservation of idolatry and of isolation. It is a method of fighting a phantom which relies on exaggeration and reversal.

phe_plax_bartasMagnus Bartas and Dmitri Plax(Sweden/Belarus) with their performance and installation >Chess Game< illustrate the meeting of two different cultures. In this, Magnus Bartas as representative the "Swedish team" plays with so-called "TV cranes". These are small figures carved out of wood that were very popular in Sweden in the 1950s and 1960s. Made by schoolchildren or hobby craftsmen, they were placed primarily on televisions in order to make these new, technologically cool-seeming objects appear more snug and cosy. This stilted mixture of conjured-up "nature" and new technology symbolises the time of great dreams and hopes in Sweden with regard to the promise of a better social future. Today cranes, as remnants of the past, have disappeared from interior decor and people's consciousness. Dmitri Plax' figures are "seven elephants". They were very widespread as lucky charms in the Soviet Union of the 1920s and 1930s. The turbulent times after the revolution and the civil war began to get back to normal, and people sought to give all possible comfort to their lives. Among knickknacks, crocheted mats and figurines of supposed Chinese porcelain, the "seven elephants" had a special status. Even the fact that they were designated a "remnant of the bourgeoisie", and their collectors as philistines, little impeded their spread. During the Second World War the elephants disappeared, only to experience a short renaissance after the War and up to Stalin's death in 1953.

2. Phantom Expression
Video, 15 min

This video-research project started as a curator's commentary on the Phantom Expression exhibition based on interviews with the participated artists. After a while more interviews were added and fragmented in a sequence that attempts to find out what is a phantom? in general or what can be considered as phantom expression? The sequence never ment to have final version as the process of collecting interview materials goes on and various versions were presented publicly under various occasions (for example, on the Open Channel in May 2006 ). Among interviewed artists there are: Nils Claesson, Palle Torshon, Tatiana Tushina, Victor Petrov, Magnus Bärtås and others. 

videostill_phantom_expression Denis: "phe..." videostill_phantom_expression Nils:"Phantom pains..." videostill_phantom_expression Valeria: "Phantom is a ghost..." videostill_phantom_expression Jaw:"Phantom is a contact sickness..." videostill_phantom_expression Christoffer: "We make them what they are..." videostill_phantom_expression Palle: "It is also a cultural product..." videostill_phantom_expression Victor: "Intellect is helpless here..." videostill_phantom_expression Erik: "... and that would be true for every war..."