Oblomov’s Dream

Digital video, 17.45 minutes duration. 2015.

Oblomov’s Dream is a moving image work, loosely adapted from the 1849 novel Oblomov by Ivan Goncharev. In the original novel, Oblomov is a young nobleman who is incapable of making decisions or undertaking any action, an indolence that causes him to lose everything he holds dear.

In this reworking of the original text, collaged with multiple other sources into a narration for video, Oblomov is elevated from being the ultimate ‘superfluous man’ to the position of an anti-hero. His refusal to perform any social function and to produce anything of use is reinterpreted as a radical political action, a strategic and necessary withdrawal from the world. His inaction is the end result of an exhaustion brought on by the labours of self-production online and offline.

In the film, a disembodied, unseen narrator speaks over a dense, multilayered and constantly shifting backdrop of still images and video. At times the arrangement of the screen is entirely abstract, and at others it resembles a cluttered computer desktop, or online pin-board. A recurring motif is the measurement of time, suggested by repeating image of digital watches, Casio alarm clocks, exposed escapement mechanisms and home-made perpetual motion machines. In the final third of the film, a recently dead hawk is laid on a newspaper and tenderly stroked by a young girl’s hand.

Production generously supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Northern Film and Media and Stills Gallery of Photography, Edinburgh.