Facing the Monument: Facing the Future

11 March 2015 | By Bazarov

'Bolt' and the problem of Soviet ballet, 1931

16 February 2015 | By Ivan Sollertinsky

Some Thoughts on the Ballets Russes Abroad

16 December 2014 | By Isabel Stockholm

Last Orders for the Grand Duchy

11 December 2014 | By Bazarov

Rozanova and Malevich – Racing Towards Abstraction?

15 October 2014 | By Mollie Arbuthnot

Walter Spies, Moscow 1895 – Indonesia 1942

13 August 2014 | By Bazarov

The Genius of Erte

28 April 2014 | By Rachel Hajek

Solidarity, people!

24 March 2014 | By Renée-Claude Landry

Guest Blog | Pulsating Crystals

17 February 2014 | By Robert Chandler Chandler

Guest Blog | Stenbergs' Faces

03 February 2014 | By Paul Rennie

Shostakovich: A Russian Composer?

05 December 2013 | By Bazarov

Travelling with intourist

31 July 2013 | By Richard Barling

Eisenstein's Circle: Interview With Artist Alisa Oleva

31 March 2016 | By

Alisa Oleva is an artist based in London and creator of the audio walk Eisenstein's Circle, which is part of the Unexpected Eisenstein expedition. She works with Debbie Kent in collaboration The Demolition Project and they are running a walkshop inspired by Eisenstein's geometry on 9 April – more details here.

Debbie: How did you come up with the idea for Eisenstein's Circle?

Alisa: I started with the idea of an audio guide to the exhibition that would leak into the street. But it's not a straightforward audio guide: the exhibition is made by Ian Christie, who's such a renowned authority on Eisenstein, and I didn't want to compete with that degree of knowledge – I wanted to play with what Eisenstein has to offer and use it in my own way. I also wanted to make something that people could engage with whether or not they know much about the films, and which would maybe make them find something fresh in the films, and in the city around them.

I usually work outside, in the city, so it was challenging to be faced with an exhibition space. Before I started, I was given the plans for the exhibition and they had a really distinctive feature, the ring of screens, which triggered the idea of using a circle as the basis and that encouraged a certain pathway.

When I started looking through Eisenstein's writings, I came across a part where he talks about circles and other shapes, and I realised that we were both interested in circles, in different ways.


It made me think of the Situationist game, where they put a glass on a map and draw round it, then have to try to walk that circle.

There is another way to go – to walk round the places Eisenstein went to in London – but they were quite scattered and hard to reach in a walk. But Eisenstein did enjoy exploring the city as an ordinary person – he went to pubs, he took tram rides, he liked experiencing London at street level and observing everyday life. So it began to seem that the audio walk could also put the listener into that role, of looking closely at the streets.


D: Where did the material come from?

A: I was in Moscow over Christmas and went to a bookshop called Falanster, which has the best books on art and politics, and found Eisenstein's books in Russian – then when I was back in London the British Library had a lot of the material in translation. I started by looking at Eisenstein's own writing, but I wanted to add in other people's analysis, which led to making two different layers where other people talk about Eisenstein's geometry.

I walked a lot in the streets around GRAD and I was looking for places to take the listener, but then I thought it would be better if they made their own discoveries. Once you start noticing circles, you see them everywhere – the buildings of Broadcasting House, for example, and All Souls church, but there are many others.

So the material is really all there in the city: the circles and the other shapes that interest Eisenstein, and then the flow of people, and that led to the idea of floating yourself into the flow of the city.


D: And that leads to the mirror at the end?

A: I wanted to bring it back at the end to yourself – you're doing all the looking and at the end you are looking at yourself. Then you can go back into the gallery and see if it has changed the way you look at the material in there.


D: Finally, can you talk about the workshop we are running in April?

A: It's a walkshop – a walking workshop, which will take participants out walking around the streets around GRAD, looking and seeing, and observing and recording. It's for anyone who wants to see the city in a different way.

D: Should we say any more about it?

A: Come along and find out!