A videopoem by the Russian Latvian collective Orbita (“Orbit”), made in 2001—I assume on videotape—and uploaded to Vimeo six months ago. Artur/Artūrs Punte and Diana Palijchuk are credited with making the video, the text is by George Uallick and Zhanna Shibalo, and The Trilobitum Coitus supplied the music. I love the fast-paced, playful energy here, making me re-play it multiple times despite not feeling that I entirely understand it. The main thing is, it’s fun and imaginatively shot and edited, and I remain intrigued.
One of my favorite poetry publishers, Brooklyn-based Ugly Duckling Presse, came out with an excellent bilingual anthology, Hit Parade: The ORBITA Group, in 2015. You can read Kevin M.F. Platt’s introduction, along with several of his translations, online at Deep Baltic. Here’s an excerpt that may or may not shed light on what exactly Uallick and Shibalo mean by “pits overgrown with ancestors” and “the hair of literature”:
Paradoxically, while they eschew nostalgia for the Soviet past, the poets of Orbita are the actual heirs to the legacy of cutting edge and experimental culture characteristic of Latvia in the last Soviet decades. Orbita is an intentionally trans-ethnic and trans-linguistic phenomenon. And this is one of the keys to its success: theirs is an avant-garde of cosmopolitan hybridity. In distinction from the majority of Russian cultural production of the Baltic region, these poets transcend marginality and provincialism by forming a literary bridge between ethnic enclaves, languages, and cultures.
Note: Long-time readers of Moving Poems may recall that I uploaded an earlier, lower-resolution YouTube version of this video back in 2011. Rather than simply edit that post, I decided to delete it and post afresh so others can enjoy re-watching it as much as I did.
Diana Palijchuk and Artur Punte added English subtitles to this Russian-language videopoem from Latvia, part of the Orbita 4 collection, which won the Latvian Poetry Prize in 2005, according to the website for the Orbit multimedia poetry collective and the invaluable services of Google Translate, which rendered this bio for the poet, Sergei Timofeyev:
Born in Riga in 1970.
Poet, author of five books of poetry (three of them were published in Riga and two in Moscow and St. Petersburg). He participated in many poetry festivals – in the UK, Holland, Sweden, Ukraine, Germany, Slovenia, Georgia, etc. Translated into the languages of those countries. In 1999 he became one of the organizers of a multimedia poetry project “Orbit”.
One of the first post-Soviet area began to develop the genre of poetry video (the first work – “Orchestra Rehearsal” was filmed and assembled together with director Victor Vilks in 1995). Other poetry video (in the poem “Light”) was involved in the finale of the festival poetic video “Zebra” in Berlin in 2001.
In 2003 he joined the short list of Russia’s Andrei Bely Prize. Along with the rest of the project “Orbit” was in 2005, the Latvian Poetry Prize for audio-video collection “Orbit 4.”
Continuing the theme of multi-media experiments with poetry, in 2007, has pioneered the development of the computer game “I am – Text”, and in 2008 and 2009, together with Arthur Punte realized poetic installation “Room-time” and “Energy Independence Poetry” at the Annual Forum of Contemporary Culture “Balta Nakts”.
Wrote some lyrics for songs by the band “OgneOpasnoOrkestr“, Brainstorm and Intars Busulis. His poems were published in a number of Latvian, Russian and international anthologies: “Dzejas Diena”, “Freed Ulysses,” “Nine measurements”, “This Same Sky (80 poets from 30 countries)”, “A Fine Line: New Poetry from Eastern & Central Europe”, “La Nuova Poesia Russia”, “Hotel Parnasus”, “Ord och spår (Words and Steps)”, etc. A short prose published in German in the book “Sprache Im Tehnischen Zeitalter”.
The most complete collection of texts written before 2005, is available here.
Thanks to Artur Punte for emailing and alerting me to what sounds like a thriving videopoetry and multimedia community in Latvia. This September they will hold their fourth Word in Motion event in Riga. Here’s some more background on the group, from a document Artur attached to his email:
Orbit (rus. Orbita) is a creative collective of Russian poets and artists whose works are dedicated to dialogue between various creative genres (music, video, etc.) and cultures. The collective came into being in Riga, the Latvian capital, in 1999. Since that time Orbit has published a number of eponymously titled almanacs in which literary works appear side by side with works of visual art (photography, graphic work, painting). Additionally, Orbit has organized three “Word in Motion” festivals of poetic video and multi-media art in Latvia (in 2001, 2003 and 2007); issued three audio compact discs and a collection of poetic video clips on VHS (2001) and DVD (2005); created several multi-media poetry installations for public exhibition; produced a number of bilingual (Russian-Latvian poetic publications; issued an anthology of contemporary Russian poetry in Latvia—at one and the same time a unique study of this phenomenon; and published a number of other works.
Orbit actively participates in Latvian and international cultural life. Members of the group have been published in many European countries and are frequently invited to European literary and artistic festivals—including, for instance: the International Moscow Poetry Biennial, the Berlin Poetry Festival, the Gothenburg Book Fair, the ARS Festival in Bratislava, the White Nights in Madrid, TARP in Vilnius, the Book World Festival in Prague, and many others. In Latvia Orbit’s achievements have been recognized with the Annual Literary Prize of the Union of Latvian Writers in 2005, the Annual Prize for the best photography album in 2006 and for the best photography exhibit in 2007, as well as a number of prizes for book design and various other literary and artistic awards. Since its founding Orbit appears in literary and multimedia performances in conjunction with invited musicians and video-artists.
The site www.orbita.lv (in Russian) provides an introduction to the works of the group.
Diana Palijchuk is the animator, and Arthur Punte did the montage. I found a Facebook page for the author, and he is indeed Latvian — the first to be included on Moving Poems — though, I presume, an ethnic Russian (his poems are in Russian).