A Day in Chevengur

Yuri Kuzmin

This work is an attempt at re-imagining Chevegur – a philosophical novel written by the Russian avant-garde writer Andrei Platonov in the 1920s – by directly engaging with the text of the novel in a cut-up fashion while visually representing some of the key themes of the novel: a ‘cosmist’ interpretation of communist ideology, the organicism-mechanicism dichotomy, mutable environments, the limits of language and the nature of human and non-human labour. In the novel these elements all transpire in a fictional town lost in the steppes of Southern Russia during the civil war years. Snippets of text are extracted from the novel according to sets of keywords, each corresponding to the time of the day, while the audience takes on the role of an external ‘cosmic’ force, directly controlling the movement of the sun (itself the prime mover in Platonov's cosmology) with the rotation of the crank-shaft.