© Mikhail Zheleznikov, 2012

16th Art Division Excellence Award

On Pause

Video work

Mikhail ZHELEZNIKOV [Russia]


This is a documentar y that came about by chance. The ar tist was waiting for his flight at the airport when he met “this guy.” ─ I was coming home from New York, where I did a project. I spent a month in New York, and I didn’t really want to come home so soon, I’d rather have stayed for another few weeks. But I didn’t stay, I went home because they bought me a ticket and I didn’t want to cause any trouble. So, I got on a plane and left. And then I met this guy in Moscow airport, who had been sitting there for a week, unable to board a plane. He kept buying tickets one after another, but he just couldn’t bring himself to actually get on a plane. So, he was just sit ting there in a smelly t-shirt, drinking expensive airport wine, star ing at the ai rplanes. There was something poetic about it. I know that being as “rational” as I am, I’d never be able to do a thing like that. I’d always board the plane if someone gave me the ticket. But what is so rational about doing things you don’t really want to do?

Reason for Award

Several Aeroflot planes sit in the distance against an expansive blue sky. Occasionally one takes off. As the camera slowly pans for nearly five minutes over the ordinary scenes of an airport, the viewer is left to ponder the veracity of a strange man’s story. From the director’s brief description, all we learn is that he met the man at the airport, where he currently lives. The man seems to be one of Russia’s homeless. While reminding us that there are more and more people living in similar conditions all over the world, the man’s mutterings about his devotion to his young lover, who apparently abandoned him in a foreign land, vividly and superbly raise universal questions related to the perils and mutability of life, love, and hardship. These are issues that confront us all and extend beyond mere social issues.