DAU: Outside and Beyond History
This editorial introduces the special issue of Apparatus under the title Soviet Playtime. Architectures of Power and Profligacy in DAU. It traces the history of the DAU project from its initial conceptualisation as a biographical film dedicated to the Soviet quantum physicist Lev Landau through to the complex multi-media offering which received its international press launch in Paris in January 2019. The critical reception of the project is summarised in broad outline. The editorial explains the origins of the special issue in a panel discussion hosted by the UCL SSEES Russian Cinema Research Group in December 2020. It outlines the structure of the issue and identifies the new angles of vision and conceptual recalibrations which emerge as a result of the materials that have been included, in particular the interviews with participants. The significance of DAU in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in particular the bombing of Kharkiv, where the project was filmed, is assessed. The sceptical response to DAU on the part of Ukrainian cultural commentators is highlighted. The editorial considers DAU as a postmodernist simulacrum. It explains the title of the special issue and its allusive potential, firstly in terms of postmodern playfulness, and secondly in terms of the title of French director Jacques Tati’s Playtime, a film which dates from 1967.
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