In the opening lines of narration in Ellie Ga’s two-channel video installation Strophe, a Turning, 2017, the artist discusses Russian poet Osip Mandelstam’s comparison, in a 1912 essay, between writing a poem and lobbing a bottled message into the sea. Both acts, Ga suggests, level distance between the self and some unknown receiverbut to what end? Ga’s discussion of Mandelstam, who was persecuted by the Communists for his nonconformity, exiled, and later left to die in a Soviet work camp, is characteristically dexterous. It economically introduces the work’s ostensible subjectthe fate of missives and other personal effects once cast, or lost, to the oceanwhile framing this inquiry in crisis, a valence of the work that only slowly reveals itself.
Ga is known for her memoir-documentary performance lectures and video essays, which often present their material as
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