What once made mankind hold its breath is the object of bored museum tours today: Laika, Yuri Gagarin, Valentina Tereshkova. Pavel Medvedev’s compilation tells the story of space travel, beyond nostalgia and beyond the tired old interpretation of the “race to the moon” as a race of the systems. He combines images ingrained in the collective memory, like the cosmonauts waving in front of the hatch of their rocket, with largely unknown, sometimes spectacular archive footage in an associative chain. He contrasts shots of experiments – animals and humans in the centrifugal spin-cycle, failed and successful rocketlaunches, fl oating, taking showers, eating at zero gravity, hand-shaking politicians – with the indescribable toils of the ground staff: armies of workers like ants, erecting whole industries, a peasant pulling a heavy plough. In the end, aspiring man is still a pathetic creature whose path loses itself in the ruins of 9/11. The soundtrack, too, where spherical sounds are mixed with rare sound bites, banal everyday noises, distant radio messages and a recurring musical motif, keeps opening up new spaces for thought, a melancholic swan song for a utopia.
Grit Lemke, DOK Leipzig