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Deep Play

Russia x Taiwan International artists Exchange Exhibition

Date: Oct. 01, 2022 – Oct. 29, 2022

Opening: Oct. 08, 2022 (Sat.) 19-21pm

Panel Discussion: Oct. 8, 2022 (Sat.) 14-16pm

Vladimir Nadein
Dina Karaman

Curator: Hsu Shih yu (Taiwan)

Venue: VT Artsalon

Sponsor: Taiwan Ministry of Culture

Deep Play

Curated by Shih-yu Hsu, Deep Play is a long-term research project by dissident filmmaking duo Dina Karaman and Vladimir Nadein concerning GTA: Criminal Russia, a game engine and an unofficial online multiplayer modification of the controversial video game Grand Theft Auto.

The visual landscape of GTA: Criminal Russia is laden with Russian attributes, such as the ornamentation of the buildings, infrastructural design and national symbolism. Players obey the rigid game mechanisms to acquire governmental positions. In the process of rising through the ranks, they are compelled to bully and exert violence over their inferiors. Special events that take place in the game, including holidays, memorial ceremonies and gatherings, mirror the ubiquitous penetration of national ideology propaganda that occurs in reality.

The moving images presented in this exhibition have been appropriated from recordings uploaded to YouTube by the game’s fandom. This found footage is a snapshot of the current psyche of certain citizens in Russia, exemplifying how a single narrative told by the nation spreads to every aspect of its citizens’ lives. The artists investigate the materiality of the digital archive and the archiving as their gesture of resistance. Their deep and extensive research overturns the notion of the digital archive as immaterial. Extending upon their past collective practice and workshops with found footage, Dina Karaman and Vladimir Nadein continue their reflections on how to build an archive of digital land-/mindscapes in order to resist hegemonic imperial narratives and singular national propaganda.

The exhibition title Deep Play has been adopted from historian Andrew Denning’s article, “Deep Play? Video Games and the Historical Imaginary” (2021). According to Denning, the video game is a medium shaping digital and human history. Encompassing cultural practices and social networks, it offers a glimpse into our contemporary historical imagination and cultural making. In Deep Play, however, no exact historical event is specified. Here, history is embodied through visual elements and events that occur in the game-world, influencing the way that players interact with each other. For this exhibition, the word “play” not only references game-playing, but also emphasizes the role-playing essential to GTA: Criminal Russia. In this world, reenactment, roleplay and national narrative are inseparable.

Dina Karaman and Vladimir Nadein condemn the war waged by Russia against Ukraine and the tragic сrimes committed there. VT ArtSalon stands in solidarity with artists who challenge any form of imperialism, war and/or totalitarianism. VT ArtSalon is devoted to maintaining an inclusive and egalitarian space for suppressed voices through art. We urge people around the world to oppose Russia’s aggression by raising awareness, compelling their governments to act and supporting the people of Ukraine.

To stand with the struggle of Ukraine:

* Dina Karaman and Vladimir Nadein acknowledge and greatly appreciate the following organizations and individuals without whom this exhibition would not have been possible: Ministry of Culture Taiwan, Very Temple Artsalon, Hu Yung-Fen, Wu Szu-Yao, Chi-Ping Yen, Shih-yu Hsu, Hikky Chen, Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, Erica Petrilo, Sergei Yahontov, More Nice Be Good Art Exhibition Service.