Gorchakov's Wish

‘On the Image’, San Sebastian, Spain - September 2011

Gorchakov’s Wish is a split-screen video piece engaging with the final three scenes of acclaimed Russian film-maker Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia (1983), including original filmic locations around Italy. The work culminates our practice-based research into the theory and practice of Tarkovsky’s film image, including its specific relationship to time and place.

The video comprises three parts, each coupling footage recorded on location in Italy with footage shot in-studio at the Centre for Creative Collaboration in London. 

  • ‘Parrhesia’, including on-site performance in the Campidoglio on Capitoline Hill in Rome.
  • ‘Allegory’, including on-site performance at the Santa Catarina pool in Bagno Vignoni.
  • ‘Elegy’, including on-site performance recorded on-site at the Abbey of San Galgano.

The effect of the video piece is threefold. Firstly, it expands Tarkovsky’s filmic syntax through the use of split screens, rendering more complex the rhythmic composition of the film image. Secondly, it conflates different times and places in the film image, constructing a multi-layered spatial experience of reflective nostalgia for the viewer. Thirdly, it fragments the symbolism of Tarkovsky’s original film images, detourning its message into an allegory for our contemporary social and political context.

The video work is accompanied by a poetic sequence, also in three parts. Each part has a unique poetics and semiotics, as well as a different subject position and ‘voice’, intended to reflect not only our engagement with the final three scenes of Tarkovsky’s film image, but also the writer’s experience of the original filmic locations in the particular place and time of composition. As with the video piece, the written work can be understood as a composite that investigates Tarkovsky’s film image, translating and transforming its various elements through the poetics of the work, ultimately ‘speaking’ a message specific to the writer’s own context and experience. A spoken word version of this text can be heard here.

Gorchakov's Wish

(16 min, 24 sec)

See other works relating to Gorchakov's Wish including:

  • Alba Lunedì’ 
    A performative re-enactment of the penultimate scene of Nostalghia (1983) on location at Bagno Vignoni, Italy.
  • Fall (An Allegory) 
    A studio performance designed specifically for its documentation through video. Here the overt symbolism of the penultimate scene of Nostalghia (1983) is fragmented into an allegorical text comprised of word, image, object and action. 
  • Kino Haiku
    An installation work reconfiguring the penultimate scene of Nostalghia (1983) through sculptural objects, moving image and text.
  • Parrhesia
    A performative re-enactment of the third-to-last scene of Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Nostalghia (1983) on location in Campidoglio on Rome’s Capitoline Hill. 
  • To Forget. Of Air.
    Film clips shot on location at the Santa Catarina pool in Bagno Vignoni, Italy, and documenting the atmospheric conditions of this site.
  • Immolation Triptych
    A tri-partite studio performance designed specifically for its documentation through video that translates and transforms the final three scenes of Nostalghia (1983) through word, image, object and action as well as through the spatial design and construction of each shot.

Please see also our Publications page for information on the essay ‘Time, Place and Empathy: The Poetics and Phenomenology of Andrei Tarkovsky's Film Image’ (Visual Studies, Volume 28:1; p. 1-16), each drawing together our research into Tarkovsky’s theory and practice of the film image.