Zerkalo IFF's 6th international academic conference "Imaginary Tarkovsky"
June 18, 2019
Sheremetevsky ave. 7, main building of Ivanovo University of Chemistry and Technology, chem-hall
There is perhaps no other Russian / Soviet classic as popular as the creator of Andrei Rublev and Stalker. Whether we talk about retrospectives that are held annually on both sides of the Atlantic or about imitation of his style (films made after Tarkovsky or taking Tarkovsky into account), the phenomenon of such a keen interest merits to be studied in and of itself. The matter, of course, is the myth of Tarkovsky - an imaginary Tarkovsky.

The conference aims to approach the hypothetical Tarkovsky. To take another look at his unrealised ideas, missed opportunities, theoretical subjects of his interest, which do not seem as eccentric 40 years later (his interest in holography, "cinema without a cinematographer" and "without film", in cinema in its technical "objective" ability as in a form of capturing the spirit); finally, to see Tarkovsky not so much as a religious director or a style innovator, but as a modern auteur who identified a possibility of merging metaphysics and document in the cinematic medium.


Viktorya Smirnova-Maizel is a Russian film and art critic. In 1995 she graduated from the Philology Department of St. Petersburg State Pedagogical University. In 2011 she received her PhD in Art History. Viktoriya has contributed to many Russian art and film magazines such as "Art of Cinema", "Hermitage", "Red", "Theatrical Saint-Petersburg", Arterritory.com, Colta.ru, and others. She is an associated professor of the Film Studies and Screenwriting Department at the Saint Petersburg State University of Film and TV. FIPRESCI member.

Program and schedule

11:00-11:30 Elena Raskatova, Maria Milovzorova: Audible text as a reflection of "realities" of Andrey Tarkovsky's world (Andrey Trkovsky archive, Yurievets)
11:30-12:00 Igor Vdovenko: Stalker as a source (on the question of Tarkovsky and theater)
12:00-12:30 Anna Glazova: Space of another communication
12:30-13:00 Claus Löser: Stalker - Before and after. Notes about the impacts of Tarkovski's movie on Germany's culture in East and West
13:00-14:00 Coffee break
14:00-14:30 Robert Bird: Andrei Tarkovsky and the Soviet Imaginary
14:30-15:00 Dmitry Pilikin: Images of the Future from the past: Andrey Tarkovsky and utopian fiction
15:00-15:30 Oleg Goryainov: Faith in the world (will come back)? Tarkovsky, Tarr and Deleuze between the trap of the transcendent and the challenge of the outward
15:30-16:00 Viktoriya Smirnova-Maizel: Tarkovsky and paradoxes of Modernism

Yelena Raskatova, Maria Milovzorova. Audible text as reflection of "realities" of Andrey Tarkovsky's artistic world (Andrey Tarkovsky archive, Yurievets)

The object of this research is audio recordings collected at the Andrey Tarkovsky archive at the Museum of Yurievets. Its major part is interviews with Tarkovsky recorded by Olga Surkova and partly published in the book "With Tarkovsky on Tarkovsky" (2005). Aside from the meaning of the unpublished fragments, sound documents themselves are of major interest. The recordings retain unique characteristics of the situation of utterance, such as intonation, emotional and logical accents, pace, pauses, etc.; concurrent sounds and noises that create context of speech; remarks, asides, repetitions that aren't directly connected to the speech's content, etc. Turning to "audible texts" gives an opportunity for a deeper analysis of various aspects of Tarkovsky's art, from understanding subjective accents in a given film's perception to correspondence between metaphysical meanings of his work and the director's ruminations on civilization; from estimating the weight of political context in shaping an artist's position to understanding trivial situations as contributing factors of creative work.

Yelena Raskatova, PhD, is a professor of history and cultural studies at the Ivanovo State University of Chemistry and Technology, co-director of the Andrey Tarkovsky Research and Project Center, author of academic papers and speaker at the international Andrey Tarkovsky conferences held at the Zerkalo Andrey Tarkovsky International Film Festival. She has written over 200 academic works, including three monographs (Soviet Authorities and Creative Intelligentsia: The Logic of the Conflict, 2009, and others).

Maria Milovzorova, PhD, is an associate professor (docent) and chair of history and cultural studies at the Ivanovo State University of Chemistry and Technology, co-director of the Andrey Tarkovsky Research and Project Center, author of academic papers and speaker at the international Andrey Tarkovsky conferences held at the Zerkalo Andrey Tarkovsky International Film Festival. She has written over 70 academic works.

Igor Vdovenko, Stalker as a source (on the question of Tarkovsky and theater)

Film scholars usually understand the poetics of Tarkovsky's films as a purely cinematic phenomenon. The same applies to the actors' presence (it is considered as opposite to theatrical in Tarkovsky's films), as well as to language (understood, specifically, as film-language). Tarkovsky's influence on other kinds and genres of art is only discussed in the context of general ideas, in a conversation on values and meanings but never in a context of a concrete analysis of concrete phenomena. However, in reality we can see that in theater more than anywhere this conversation is appropriate. Remakes and sequels of Stalker appear on regular basis in theater, not to mention certain common principles borrowed from this film that are declared foundational for theater (Theater is Zone, every show is an attempt to pass to the Room through the Zone, etc.)
Of course, there is a specific context that needs to be taken into account: Tarkovsky is a kind of religion and his films are cult objects. True service, of course, is able to cross any borders. But what is it that is taken across those borders? What is left of the film?

Igor Vdovenko, PhD, is a theater and culture scholar, senior researcher at the Russian Institute of Art History, section of contemporary problems in art culture.

Anna Glazova, Space of another communication

Often described as science fiction, Stalker and Solaris are based on literary texts and follow them in their narrative and, more importantly, space arrangement. However, they differ radically in the outcome of communication with the alien. Stanislaw Lem, as is well known and documented, was utterly disappointed with the ending of Solaris in Tarkovsky's interpretation. His major cause of concern was the appearance of an "island" inside the thinking ocean, in which the protagonist relives a return to his parents' home and his childhood. Lem interpreted his novel as a narrative about a failed communication with an alien mind; while Tarkovsky tells about a successful communication, although not in a sense of information or knowledge exchange. That being said, communication is made possible through creation of a common space of the human and the inhuman: the island. It is the same logic that we find in Stalker – while in the Strugatskis' novel the characters seek for an object (a "ball of gold"), Tarkovsky introduces a special space into the Zone: the "room," in which communication with the other occurs – the other that structures the very environment in which sight is moving through camera.

Anna Glazova is a comparative literature and critical theory scholar. She earned her PhD from the Northwestern University in the US. Glazova is a translator of poetry and prose from German and English. She has published five books of poetry.

Dr. Claus Löser. Stalker - Before and after. Notes on the impact of Tarkovsky's movie on Germany's culture in East and West.

On May 1st 1981 Tarkovsky's Stalker officially opened in East German theaters. Two years after the premiere in the USSR rumors about this outstanding movie had reached the interested audience already. Other films by Tarkovsky, such as Ivan's Childhood, Andrey Rublev and Solaris were still remembered as remarkable works. (The Mirror was not shown until fall 1989.) When Stalker was released in East Germany, the cinema administration tried to hide the film. It was screened mostly in small cinemas for a few screenings. But nevertheless, in very short time Stalker became an insider tip. It was an open secret that this movie was something special you never have seen before. In intellectual circles Stalker rose as a top must-see event. After this experience many artistic oeuvres in literature, painting and filmmaking in East Germany have been influenced by Tarkovsky's film. It became a kind of esthetical, philosophical and ethical etalon for one's own work. The situation in West Germany was totally different. Stalker was released in famous places in West-Berlin, Frankfurt-on-Main, Munich and another venues beside the market with a single print, which was distributed by the «Freunde der deutschen Kinemathek» in West-Berlin. Of course the importance of the film was totally . But generally the press and the audience were more interested in the style and in the cinematographic language than in the philosophical spirit. 30 years after the unification of Germany it's very exciting to compare the differences of the reception in both parts of the divided country. The presentation will give an overview of the historical backgrounds, will present some examples of Tarkovsky's influence on German artists and will ask about his current presence.

Dr. Claus Löser is a film critic, curator and historian. He focuses on experimental and underground films and history of cinema of the former East Block, has published many articles and several books, author of the weekly column about film culture in Berlin in the „Berliner Zeitung". Member of FIPRESCI.

Dmitry Pilikin: Images of the Future from the Past: Andrey Tarkovsky and utopian fiction

Researching utopia as a genre in literature studies traditionally involves evaluation of literary merits and shortages of the genre. British and American culture and literature scholar A. M. Etkind, followed by many researchers, considers "tutopia" a specific Russian kind of utopia: achieving ideal society through moral, not social change and conservative values. In a discussion of Solaris, Tarkovsky described his thoughts about his own film as follows: "I see the film's most important meaning in its moral problematics. Discovering nature's deepest secrets must be accompanied by a moral progress. If we make a step up to a new level of knowledge, the other foot must go up to a new moral step. What I wanted to prove with my picture is that the problem of moral principle, moral purity pierces through our whole existence and reveals itself even in those areas that don't have anything to do with morals: space exploration, studying objective reality and so on." The source novel's author Stanislaw Lem famously disliked Tarkovsky's work: "Tarkovsky in his film is showing that space is frightening and disgusting, while Earth is comforting. I thought and wrote the other way round. He didn't make Solaris, he made Crime and Punishment." We don't know how Tarkovsky's attitude to the image of the Future would change had he lived in our time. But we know how Stanislaw Lem reconsidered his attitude to predictions - he wrote Summa Technologiae, a large book on the subject, summarizing the classic era of researching the Future.

Dmitry Pilikin is an artist, art critic, art historian, curator of various artistic projects and exhibitions, including Russia fly by, HangART-7 (Salzburg), ArtBatFest (Almaty), art urbanist project Waterfront and others.

Oleg Goryainov, Faith in the world (will come back) by means of cinema? Tarkovsky, Tarr and Deleuze between the trap of the transcendent and the challenge of the outward

A commonplace reading of Tarkovsky's work is that they interpret religious experience through cinematic means. One question, however, remains on the margins: how does such an experience connect to the surrounding world's reality status?
"How does cinema reinstates our faith in the world?" - this is a key question of the post-war modernist cinema according to Gilles Deleuze's analysis in Time-Image. The French philosopher answers the problem by referring to the major figures of cinematic modernism (Welles, Robbe-Grillet, Resnais, Duras). It is worth noting, however, that Deleuze approaches theological problematics building on the works by materialist and/or atheist filmmakers. As a result, the status of asserting the "faith in the world," as opposed to the pre-war focusing on producing "illusions of the world," remains ambiguous and open to uncritical readings in Deluze's Cinema. The presentation will employ comparative analysis of works by Tarkovsky and Tarr, two figures that are sometimes juxtaposed too readily (i.e. a supposedly mutual "longing for spiritual values" in A.B. Kovacs), and, grounded in theoretical apparatus of Deleuze's Time-Image, will attempt to clarify the reality status of the film image and the traps related to effects of metaphysics, mysticism and religious experience.

Oleg Goryainov is a philosopher, film theorist and historian, senior researcher at the Eldar Ryazanov Museum (Samara). Member of the editorial board of the online art film journal Cineticle. He has published articles on history, theory and philosophy of film.

Viktoriya Smirnova-Maizel, Tarkovsky and paradoxes of Modernism

Paintings in Tarkovsky's films are not usually metamorphosed and appear as quotes, not symbols. Or, more precisely, as indexes of concrete paintings, with a certain culture and kind of sensibility as its background. This kind of a painting's existence does not contradict the auteur's theoretical stance, in which cinema was considered a sovereign language not reducible to theater, painting or literature. On the contrary, it gives an opportunity to understand Tarkovsky's provisions literally. For him, cinema had always been a means and not a goal, less of an art form as a separate entity and much more of an art form as a way of transcendence. This relates not just to the tradition of transcendent cinema, exemplified by Ozu, Dreyer and Bresson, but also to the modernist type of culture, marked with an original ambiguity. The latter is expressed not only in the idea of a total work of art, but more importantly, in the abandonment of an artifact's value, as a beginning of a tradition in which ideas, plot and author's wit mean as much and more than signature, individual style and so on. In a certain sense, all modern art is imbued with an idea of art as transcendence, as an act of eliminating the border between the conventional and the real. In this sense Tarkovsky might be akin to Kandinsky or Duchamp.

Viktoriya Smirnova-Maizel, PhD, is a film and art critic, associate professor (docent) of screenwriting and film studies at the Saint Petersburg University of Film and Television. She has published numerous articles on film history and theory.

The conference's working languages are Russian and English. Simultaneous interpretation from Russian to English and from English to Russian will be provided.