The Morning of the Light
Talking about the new project of Anatoly Gankevich "Aquatoria" is like rewriting a dream, a trip to a new state of falling in love, when the world comes to life, and appears to be talking with signs that reality is something else and manifests with the beauty of being.
"Aquatoria" is the first part of a filmed large-scale triptych, on which Anatoliy Gankevich works for the last two years. All film shots are taken during sunrise. It is a visual song of the great awakening of the world. Unexpectedly familiar picturesque canvases of the author from the «Glares» series come to life. Before us is a kind of painting on film, created by a classical artist of Odesa New Wave, where through such different arts like oil on canvas and video, the author is encourages to meditate on the magic of young sun disc.
A while ago, in the beginning of the 90s, Anatoly Gankevich stood at the origins of independent Ukraine experiments with performative and video art. For the last decade he was known mainly as a painter, who wants to successfully reinvent himself in the cinema art. Before becoming the poet of the glares, Gankevich was creating a picturesque pseudo-mosaic, as it was in the heroic times of Ukrainian postmodernism. At the same moment, the parallel lines of his biography, the director and the artist, moved and entered into an alchemist relationship. Thus, a project was born, a kind of balance on the boundary between two types of art and efficiently appropriate use of the most beautiful from two worlds - cinema and painting. The world of postmodern ironic quotation point of view was occupied by a new one, "metamodernistic" openness where there is the fearlessness of being yourself, speaking your mind without looking at «it was before» attitude and …the ability to rediscover the forgotten beauty, this devalued category of XX century.
At first glance, Gankevich's project night appear as a hymn to universal harmony without narrative. This is a slow cinema, the crazy beauty of which hypnotizes with its visual masterfulness. The author doesn't conceal his admiration with sunrise reality, he enjoys it like it would do a person, who is not bothered with reality and its conflicts, fast media, artificial statuses and fashion senses.
Mythopoetic is one of the most important characteristics to the work of Gankevich. There is a large-scale epic about a place, which is non-existent, about Odesa, well-known from the literature, films and local legends, but still non-existent, and probably which never existed in so-called "objective reality". And still in Odesa of Gankevich are the various parallels with the history of art - first of all, with the paintings of Yuriy Ugorov, who worked with the same visual code of Odesa, where the main points are the beaches of Langeron filled with sun and warm sea. In Odesa of Gankevich, there is a daunting mystery of barbaric forgetfulness, like disrupting the line of the seaside landscape, all the havoc and chaos, neuroses of political fervors and whimsical twists and turns are overlooked. This area is a sleep-hallucination where you create your own laws.
There is a narrative in the film. It is warped, but we can see a couple of main characters. The Sun, without a doubt, plays the most important role here. We can see the immensity of the sunrise sea, which submits in accordance with the laws of the reverse perspective of Gankevich. In the film, it is not a man who looks at the sun, but the sun is looking around with its own glance.
The sphere of the Sun in the project of Gankevich has a visual double. Disco ball is a symbol of the rave-revival of the mid 90s, where the glory of the Odesa underground nightclubs was loud and proud throughout USSR. Disco ball also creates its own glares - the vibrant illusion of ideal fractal of never-ending night orgy. But the is an end even to the perfect party - this is indicated by the sunrise, where all the power of the galaxy goes to the main disco ball of them all - the Sun. The film of Gankevich balances on a subtle
vision of the world of the one, who just walked out of the best cosmic party (no wonder that the most famous club in does was called «Cosmo») and looks at the morning sea, not fully present in reality.
The filming of "Aquatoria" was held long before 2020, when whole world suddenly stopped; but now this poetic meditation of introspective cinema creates a special sense. Yet still, behind all the poetry of the vision, "Aquatoria" is a perfect self-portrait of Anatoliy Gankevich himself. The sea, the disco ball, Capitan with girls, and the sun with its calm perfection, and the glares and this immersive Odesa - these familiar projections of the artist where he slowly searches and - oh wonder - finds himself.
Alisa Lozhkina, October 2020