UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Musical Ghosts: Chapiteau–Show and the New Inauthenticity

16 March 2015, 5:15 pm–7:30 pm

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Room 433, UCL SSEES Building, 16 Taviton Street, London, WC1H 0BW

Susan Larsen (University of Cambridge)

The songs that punctuate Sergei Loban’s Chapiteau–Show (Shapito-Shou, 2011) have been described by their composer, Jacques Poliakov, as musical ‘hauntology’.

As Poliakov has noted in several interviews, the film is ‘full of ghosts… the sensation of déjà vu in the music is present in the visual track as well.’ This talk will explore the ways in which the ‘already seen’ and the ‘already heard’ structure the interlocking four-part narrative of Chapiteau-Show. This is a film haunted not only by the spectres of Andy Warhol and Marilyn Monroe, Viktor Tsoi and Elvis Presley, Young Pioneers and Soviet cartoons, but also by the ghosts of several earlier cult films, chief among them Sergei Solov’ev’s Assa (1987) and Rashid Nugmanov’s Needle (Igla, 1988). One might view Chapiteau–Show's eccentric mashup of Soviet and post-Soviet visual and musical mythologies as a form of what Svetlana Boym has called 'reflective nostalgia', or consider it as an exemplar of the 'new sincerity' that Aleksei Yurchak and Ellen Rutten have discussed as quintessentially post-postmodern. This talk will suggest, however, that the formal precision of Chapiteau–Show's play with doubles, redundancies and repetitive excess originates neither in nostalgia, nor sincerity but in a commitment to what we might call the 'New Inauthenticity'. It's all about fakes.

Susan Larsen is a Lecturer in the Department of Slavonic Studies at the University of Cambridge, where she convenes courses on Russian literature, cultural history and cinema. Film-related research interests include Thaw-era responses to Italian neorealism; late Soviet and post-Soviet musical films; masculinity and national identity in recent Russian cinema.