Only Two Words
by Masha Godovannaya
2018, single-channel video (HD), 9’49’’, color, sound
In her film Only Two Words (2018) Masha Godovannaya uses historical footage from the 1970s and 1980s and her own material from 1998 to 2017. The artist uses the montage technique called “creative geography” which was developed by Lev Kuleshov in the early 20th century. The shots of different places and set at different times are combined in order to create an impression of a non-chronological, discontinuous time for the viewer.
The images are accompanied by the voice narrating poems by Eileen Myles in English and Russian. The video creates a poetic dialog between the artist, who moved to New York from Moscow in the 1990s, and Eileen Myles who has been living there since 1974. By translating Myles’ poems about desire, hedonism, separation, and displacement, the video emphasizes the personal and creative affinities between the two but also lays bare the fragility of queer existence.
Thus, the translation of the Myles’ English poetry about lesbian experiences and desires into Russian becomes an act of rebellion for Godovannaya, anchoring queer existence in a culture and country where the state has been cracking down on “homosexual propaganda” with the repressive legislation starting in 2013. At the very same time, the use of the Russian language is a rebellious stance against the unquestionable hegemony of the English language in art.
Masha Godovannaya is a visual artist, experimental filmmaker, and queer-feminist researcher. Approaching art production as artistic research and collective action, Masha’s artistic practice draws on combinations of methods and spheres such as moving image theory, experimental cinema and DIY video tradition, social science, queer theory, decolonial methodologies, and contemporary art.
Masha holds an MFA degree in Film/Video from Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Bard College, New York, and an MA in Sociology from European University in St. Petersburg, Russia. Currently, she is a PhD in Practice Candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, Austria.