Margarita Gluzberg

Transmission

(The Consumystic)

The first time I entered an airport

I was ten. Sheremetyevo,

Moscow, 1979. We were emigrating

to the West. Leaving

meant never coming back – it

was on a par with going into

outer space – an airplane to

the Moon. It is almost impossible

to describe what entering

that airport represented.

I remember a large queue,

relatives, suitcases, swift

processing in an institutional

hall devoid of any colour. No

other airport has ever had the

same sensational effect on 

me. Its power was sustaining

when I returned to it in the

early 90s during a stopover on

my way to Tokyo. I understood

then why the Soviet block

was referred to by Westerners

as ‘grey’. It simply lacked

advertising – advertising that

colours the whole of the Western

World.

Transmission (The Consumystic)

is a stills sequence,

originally shot on 35mm blackand-

white slide film. Using

the method of double- and 

triple- exposure, the work

adopts the analogue photographic techniques of the

Surrealists, and of early Soviet

montage. The procession of

shop interiors, make-up counters

and window displays, weaves a mesh of commercial signs and spaces: the black gleaming lacquer of Chanel counters, intertwined with the grid of department-store escalators.

The camera becomes an interface between the

consumer-voyeur and the constantly changing, spectacular 

display of commodities. The

images seem to echo an age

when consumer fictions were

being invented for the first

time, now brought back to the

present, a present where such

fictions are becoming increasingly

unsustainable. They

allude to a former glamour

associated with air travel –

before budget airlines, full of

duty-free promise, glowing

through a haze of complimentary

on-board spirits. This is

the dream of Western Capitalism,

being dreamed by a girl 

growing up in the Soviet Union

in the 1970s, re-enacted in

2012.

The soundtrack is taken from

an LP devised by a Soviet

sanatorium in the 1970s,

Melodies for a Peaceful Sleep.

The hypnotic voice instructs

the subject to enter a dreamlike

state – before waking up

to fulfil the necessary duties of

a functioning citizen.