2015, video, 16 min

Mikhail Maximov’s MMTP is a non-linear spiritual legal thriller that features animated avatars of venerated figures of Russian culture – legendary film director Andrey Tarkovsky, cult writers Andrey Platonov and Yury Mamleev, and underground film actor Alexander Maslaev. They are engaged in a private dispute that concerns the future of Earth and space travel. Tarkovsky and Mamleev are set to introduce a new law during a hearing in Russian Parliament. This law will increase the planet’s gravity and turn Russia into a cuddly cradle for the best genes in mankind. Tarkovsky and Mamleev’s idea is met with both aggressive (courtesy of Maslaev) and elusive (Platonov) opposition. The movie ends with Tarkovsky and Mamleev with arms outstretched, Mamleev delivering a heartfelt if misguided sermon on Russia’s great future.

If it all sounds too complicated, that is because there is nothing simple about the source material Maximov is using. Tarkovsky’s films are notoriously drawn out across agoraphobic landscapes. Through a philosophy of weakness he sets humankind in a sort of memory limbo, where there’s no rest for the wicked. Yury Mamleev’s writings combine metaphysical dialogues, Kafka-esque fiction and a special kind of almost freemason patriotism. Andrey Platonov was a field researcher of early 1920s utopias and had laid down a comprehensive survey of placelessness that characterised the new human of the revolution. Alexander Maslaev was a free spirit in all aspects of his scarce cultural production. All the protagonists of MMTP have tried, each in his own way, to conduct a thought experiment that will explain Russia as a place and a state (in both meanings of the word). By turning them into metaphysical politicians, Maximov condenses their discourse in short and powerful blasts, all the while putting them through a process of disembodiment. These are people as ideas as creatures, situated in a concrete but nondescript landscape, forever reincarnating in newer and wilder forms. Maybe they make no sense to a generation of fast media – at least that’s what a cameo by NyanCat seems to be alluding to. Or maybe, just maybe, they make a lot more sense that is possibly needed by the human mind in this day and age.

Valentin Diakonov, art critic.