Severstal / Stas Bags
Finished images don’t seem to be interesting and the mechanisms of their appearance even less so. They are intentionally derivative, because all attention is concentrated on bases, principles and skeletons and this is exactly what is exhibited in Stas Bags’ works.
They are about constructions and mechanisms, schematics and structure. They regenerate the reality in order to discover the variability of its composition.
The Severstal project is directed to the myths and reality of an atomic submarine TK-20 Severstal, which is the sixth ship of the top-secret project ‘The Shark’. The largest rocket carrier in the world (almost 200 meters long) with 150 members of the crew on board dives into the Arctic Ocean and for a half a year escapes the enemy satellites pursuit. Then suddenly, from under the ice, it launches a rocket which, in a fraction of a second, pierces the inert mass of water and strikes the target at another continent.
The miracle of the defense technology, that received several Nobel prizes, took four years to be built and was set afloat in the spring of 1989.During the manoeuvres in the august of 1995, the submarine successfully launched a ballistic missile from the North Pole to the firing ground of Arkhangelsk; the rear admiral received a military rank of the Hero of Russia. Soon afterwards the submarine was transferred to the reserve due to the lack of ammunition load. It turned out that it would be too expensive to saw it up, and it is equally wasteful to use such a huge steel vessel as an ore and oil products transporter.
Today the gigantic hero of the navy, the USSR’s swan song, is becoming rusty in the classified harbour. Nobody needs its military might, predicated in its name. The huge steel thing still remembers its power , hears the engines rumble and feels the masses of water above it. Over and over again, in a somnambulistic trance of the universe, it smoothly and quickly moves under the ice, guarding its submariners’ lives, incarcerated in the steel belly, who try not to recall the word ‘Kursk’.
It would seem that Stas Bags uses quite simple means. He operates with the myths of the Soviet regime, trying to find out the essence of heroism. He neither awoke the legends and its ghosts nor becoming absorbed in the pedantic formalism. The poetics of the Severstal project is making one face the bitter reality of the universe as such. The project states the severity of the ideas of the past and shows us how grave its consequences are. Nowadays only an artist can distance himself from the history so that to be able to perceive it impartially. It is easy to debunk the myth and even easier to support it, but to stop its course and to examine it closely is a difficult task.
That’s exactly what Stas Bags does. He skillfully generates the sterile situation of anticipation, time lag and reversibility. What the fear of death matters when the universe is in danger? What is the historical value of all these heroic marches under the ice? What is more important not to lose a battle of the historical truth or not to miss a touching moment of everyday life?