Author’s Statement

Its light burn right through my eyes. Apparently, chances of becoming a big fan of shopping malls have never been high. However, getting older, I have realized it is not about the architectural designs or the perfection of daily shoppers. My concern shifted towards what it represents to me. A world of blissful ignorance, delivering packed and perfumed comfort from all around the world? A place where take-away happiness can be bought? I decided to confront such images in my mind...
„What is the night time like in a shopping mall once everyone leaves?" Addressing six shopping centers in Tallinn, the leading city among European capitals in a ratio of commercial floor space to number of inhabitants, I was offered creative freedom and immediate access to one of them.

Solaris. Who gives the name being inspired by famous sci-fi movie? Maybe someone who wants to render an ordinary space as special, as somewhat interstellar, as, eventually, materializing one's wishes. A marketing inside joke? Imagine what you wish for and it will be given to you. Tarkovsky and Lem did materialize the dead wife of the orbital station’s inspector, did they not?

Initially, I started with a simple task - visiting the place in order to get acquainted with its staff and everyday routines. The more time I was spending there alone with my camera, the more I was apprehending the ideas of Gilles Deleuze, Bruno Latour, Tim Ingold and Nigel Thrift. The scholarship that, in my humble opinion, frames current horizons of anthropological endeavour. Despite the initial disorientation, I have realized that the film has been opening new paths for investigation of how "more-than-human theory" could influence the future of ethnographic cinema.

However, "Solaris" is not a film for academics and PhD holders. I did not want to create a film-statement, but a sensually intensive and contextually open space for the reflection upon modes of consumption. Having no dialogue, the film is experimenting with evocation of other-than-human ontologies. We can infer this approach to Maurice Merleau-Ponty and radically exclaim: "A movie is not thought, it is perceived. Ultimately, it does not mean anything but itself“.

During the final evaluation at the Baltic Film and Media school, my documentary supervisors urged me to simplify the narrative and blend "disjointed" sequences of everydayness, transformation and darkness together. Such response has prompted me to realized my bonding with the mall - I had started treating it as if it was "a person." A person whose testimony - the spatial relationships and night time processes - cannot be misappropriated. I have thus refused to follow the suggestions of my advisors who did not have the same experience as myself. Was it excess of ethical principles in anthropological research or post-human ethics expanding its reach? Was it misunderstanding of the film medium or viable experimentation?
"Solaris" is a cinematic vessel that takes those who dare and projects their dreams back to them. Watching the film might be just a short sensory experience. Nevertheless, there are voices echoing as you walk through the corridors. The confrontation creates relationships and associations. What kind of a conversation would you develop with a vibrating building, its servants and the man with a movie camera?

Pavel Borecký