Heliograffiti. Revival by Fire.
The chief strategy of Volodymyr Bakhtov’s work is the method of the so-called “artistic reconstruction”. It involves the restoration of both physical and “ideological” losses of a historical and cultural complex. Working with the landscape of archaeological sites in southern Ukraine (Olbia and some archaeological sites in Crimea), Bakhtov actively explores the “informational field” that relates to it, namely the mythological, philosophical, ethical and aesthetic ideas of antiquity.
The method of “artistic reconstruction” has received its fullest implementation in the technique of “heliograffity”. The term “heliograffity” is an author’s invention which combines the Greek word “helio-” – “sun, light”, and the Italian word “graffiti” – arbitrary drawing, scratching on various surfaces.
The technique was first implemented in 1995. It involves spatial drawing with living fire to visualize disappeared or destroyed architectural objects. On an archaeological site, the artist “restores” the contours of the ruined buildings or completely “reconstructs” them from the foundation using a burning torch as a drawing tool.
The entire process is recorded with the help of a long exposure camera setup. The spatial objects constructed in this way are visible only in the photographs; in the real landscape, one can observe only a bizarre fiery ritual. Only one shot is spent on such a “reconstruction” of each structure. That is, the camera acts as a device that accumulates time and transforms it into a three-dimensional spatial object in the photograph. The result of this work is photographs of fiery “structures” that appear on the site of destroyed architectural and sacred buildings. And they are not some arbitrary “drawings” of anything and anywhere, but conscious constructions of three-dimensional architectural objects in a specific location. Temples and buildings appear in places where they used to be in antiquity. This is a kind of revival of the lost architectural space, which gets a new fiery being in the photos.