by Vika Begalksa
2004, video, 10’16’’, sound, color | English | Courtesy: the artist
In his discussion of masochism, Freud defines two phases: in the first phase, the child sees another child being beaten or caressed by the father — this fosters jealousy and resentment. The second phase is the approximation of Oedipal fantasy in a form of attachment to the father — associated with the feeling of guilt and pleasure. The desired father can later be replaced with internalized morality and projected on the institutions of power.
The black English teacher in Vika Begalska’s video Welcome (2004) is a stand-in for such authority figures the woman can project her Oedipal fantasies onto. The vulnerable student is punished and expelled for the mistakes she makes. We soon realize that the student makes mistakes deliberately in order to be punished — the teacher’s ambivalent role is even more striking when we see the scene through the eyes of a laughing girl who is watching this strange student-teacher interaction.
For an artist from post-Soviet Russia, the process of learning the English language during the late 1990s was an ambiguous process: on the one hand, one could rejoice that the foreign language can be put at use as the Russian state was not restricting international travel. On the other hand, since English became the single language with global ambition, one had to accept a subordinate position as a non-native speaker never able to reach the desired level of eloquence and sophistication.
Vika Begalska (*1965) is a painter, video and performance artist, living in Moscow. Her long-term artistic projects inclide Teresa Creative Union of Sex-Workers and Artists, created in 2014 with Alexandr Vilkin and Diana Portlend, and FEMINIST KITCHEN, an art platform with artistic and social projects addressing social injustice and the subordinate role of women in society, founded together with Oksana Sarkisyan and Vlad Chizhenkov. She has participated in international group exhibitions since 2004, including 7 SINS at the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Gender Troubles at the 1st Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art.