Evgeny Granilshchikov: From drawing to video art and full-length films

The artist answered our questions about his work using his favourite format, the video interview

You work with various media, such as drawing, video and sound. What unites those practices for you?


I studied at the Rodchenko Art School. I joined as a photographer then transferred to the video course, and from that point I mostly worked with video. In my practice various media combine. I try to create exhibitions in which there is everything, from drawings to photography and full-length films. All of this is united by a general narrative, a general concept with which I’m working at that moment.


I often begin with an idea and choose the medium to suit it. So in one case that might be a series of drawings and in another it could be a full-length film. Every artist works with their own materials, durations, distances, personalities and textures. The artist’s arsenal includes a recognisable form and I hope that in my case this is obvious regardless of whether I made drawings or a film.


Tell us about Drama? What genre is it?


One of my last works was the video Drama. I usually talk about it as a film. If I were to describe the work it would probably sound like this: Drama is a film which appears to be a documentary, a feature film and even a music video. I think that Drama is important in terms of changing genres and registers. It’s a work in which I play with temporality, with rhythm and with the various languages of cinema, but it’s all a game. Drama pretends to be a documentary, but it’s not always that way. It’s more of a work with languages, with structures which we as viewers compare, but we come into contact with art that appears to be something different.


Tell us about the work Interview.


It’s a short work that I filmed in my second year at Rodchenko Art School. It was a reaction to the learning process, to frustration, to difficulties which I experienced at the school. It turned out to be an ironic work and it’s probably more like video art because it’s short and you can watch it from anywhere. You get into the material very quickly. I think that’s an important moment for video art.


How does video art differ from cinema?


That’s a very difficult question, it’s theoretical. Sometimes video art is very similar to cinema and vice versa. Not everything that we see in the museum is video art. There are lots of complications here and there are two answers: “in absolutely every way” and “not at all”. Every time we need to sort out these differences, but there’s an even shorter answer. Video art is a field of contemporary art, a part of the tradition, a part of the language. And in talking about cinema we understand that we are dealing with another tradition. It is a different territory with which contemporary art interacts. These two fields often intersect and this happens because artists are interested in cinema and vice versa. There are experimental filmmakers and structural filmmakers, film essays and diary cinema. They are all very different things and we don’t always experience them in the cinema. There is no quick answer to this question. It requires thought and an analytical approach. In each case we should look at the work and go from there.


You have a music project called SADRAP. Tell us about it. What are your plans for this field?


It’s not just music. I usually talk about it more broadly and call it an audio-visual project. It grew out of the film Drama. I wrote the music for that and together with my team we made a film which was like a music video. There were lots of arguments about it. We showed a music video at a contemporary art fair. Is it video art or a music video? Having written the music and made the video I decided to continue the project and make it something free-standing. Now we’re working on an album and some more music videos.


You feature in many of your works. Why is this important to you?


Yes, I often feature in my films and in my works. It’s connected to two things. Sometimes it’s easier to play a role and not rely on actors or friends. The second point is that I write parts of the screenplay based on my own experience and I understand that I shouldn’t delegate those words to someone else as I have a feeling for what I wrote and it will likely be easier for me to do it, although I hate being in front of the camera. I find it very stressful and it’s not vanity but necessity that makes me take part in films. Sometimes they are very personal films and stories that concern me and my close circle and so we play those roles ourselves.


What are you working on now?


I’m working on a screenplay for a new film which I’m making with Garage. I’m also filming the second and third parts of Drama, or rather I’m not filming as we’re all selfisolating but I’m working on the texts. I’m also making a new series of drawings. What else is there to do in self-isolation but draw?

Evgeny Granilshchikov. «Interview». 2012. 1’23 min.