"They do not know it, but they are doing it."




The simple phrase by Marx adequately had been his own way to succinctly describe how human behavior is so often disengaged from a cognition of action in structuring an illusion of ideological proportions. When we look at the images of military officers languorously posing in gestures of staged repose placed next to the advertising from fashion magazines, we may simply assume a purposeful juxtaposition that clearly alludes to a mimicry that speaks of the perversity of power. However, these are not mere military officers neutrally staged in a visual game of war versus dollar. They are members of an elite brigade responsible for the launching of ballistic missiles for the Ukrainian army. Furthermore, they are a brigade also responsible for the gross error of striking a passenger flight overhead the Crimean peninsula during military exercises. The project rendered by artists Iliya Chichkan and Peter Style speaks of a more complicated notion of fetish that reverberates between Marxian and Freudian interpretation to speak of disavowal and displacement as a means to substitute ideology in the creation of a necessary illusion either to deal with pathological drives such as the death drive in indicating a human psychic apparatus subordinated to blind automatism that extends beyond pleasure seeking and self preservation.
Chichkan and Style's project including photographs and video documentation extend beyond a bracketing of a prototypical "look" evoking staged fashion photography implicit to advertising. The coded images allude to a discourse of desire immersed in the fetish as instigating an invisible movement that is almost physical in nature be it in the purchase of the commodity and the circulation of goods and hence money. Or be it in the notion of the military in the storage and accumulation of weaponry. Both point to systems of harbored secrets and illusions structured in the name of survival be that in psychic terms within protectorates of ideology. The Prada mule or the ballistic missile share in their existence as enigmatic objects that are sensuous, suprasensible and social. They are a fetish that displace ideology in creating a necessary reality, but one that is nevertheless constructed and illusory.

Marta Kuzma