Vocabulary Lesson

Stills, HD videos: 2’22 and 9’36, 2009
Collaboration with Ieva Misevičiūtė
and Goda Budvytytė
1/

A hypnotic horror sessions of Vogue balls on modernist architecture are performed wearing the costumes that may be recognized by Tristan Tzara as his own. Video scenes would shock Gertrude Stein, Miles Davis and Frank Zappa (separately) who are all known as the auteurs of the phrase “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture”.

Black culture from New York 80’s meets Soviet Modernism while the artists perform their own version of Vogue* in the foreground of buildings in Vilnius. The basic forms of expression of two radically different ideologies are perfectly matching in one aesthetic scheme: strict lines and shapes, angular gestures, monumental movements – celebration of self expression against the background of the faceless image of socialist architecture.

Vogue is a highly stylized modern dance that involves ‘Egyptian’, silhouette-oriented poses drawn from modeled fashion photographs and angled, gymnastic body movements. It emerged in New York’s gay and transvestite scene and was named after Vogue magazine. One of the main ideas holding this scene together was the continuously and ritually celebrated belief that one can become whomever one wants to be (a movie star, a photo model, or a regular school girl), because the social status largely depends on the looks. This logic–let’s call it vogue logic for now–was important for the ‘Vocabulary Lesson’, the video clip as well as the (learning) song. If a person can transform into a letter, it is probable that a letter can become something else as well, and it is possible to (re)create buildings using musical notations instead of construction drawings, isn’t it? ‘Vocabulary Lesson’ can be read as a tale that deconstructs the figures of architecture turning them into sphinx-like letters that are ‘practicing their perfection’.

Valentinas Klimašauskas, Ieva and Eglė