The Crimean Bridge

is a crystallised artefact of Putin’s regime, evidence for further forensic investigation on Russian state violence. Being constructed to become a symbol of Russian occupation of Crimea, it is one of the most politically charged contemporary mega-projects in line with Us-Mexico border. The Crimean Bridge combines all aspects of Russian politics one could imagine -  including, but not limited to, military intervention in Ukraine, ecological damage, immense propaganda campaign, corruption. Despite this fact, it hasn’t been dissected yet.

This web-platform will gradually lead you through the crimes the Crimean Bridge enabled, showing alternative overview of the project, taking it apart to reveal its decaying bedding. Intro provides you with a short report on the project. This intro explains the way investigation was structured and the goal it tries to achieve. A diagram outlines the main principle the Crimean Bridge project is guided by. A model maps its main (dis)functions.


The DeepFake

This deepfake video is produced by Anna Engelhardt and Julien Mercier. Learn how to make your own here

Russia Today is one of the main channels to translate the voice of Russian propaganda to the Western audience. Being unluckily percieved by some as “alternative media” it doesn’t bother to ground their news by facts that would correspond to reality. The language of RT is far from neutral when it targets enemies of Russian government, but full of euphemisms when Russian government is in the spotlight itself. What would happen if the truth is reclaimed through abduction of means with which fakes are produced? If the tools the Russian government tried to monopolise would be deployed against the authoritarian state? 

The reflection of what could be considered as a practice of truth production is vital for this investigation. How would one investigate an instance of structural violence that is covered by the fake information from both media and scientific outlets? When the most grounded research comes from the independent activist groups, usually lacking affiliation with institutions that have monopoly on objectivity, the notion of objectivity must be questioned. This project employs, on the one hand, extenesive open-source research and remote sensing, usually equated with objectivity. On another, it does so through intentional viral aesthetics coupled with explicitely politicised language, usually rendered undesired in conventional understanding of objectivity. It does so to be more than investigation of one instance of violence. This platform aims to target the flows of Russian propaganda itself.

The Crimean Bridge

is, in the first place, the material project of Russian propaganda. It is what Brian Larkin calls “poetic infrastructure” - “concrete semiotic and aesthetic vehicles […] loosened from technical function” (Larkin 2013, 329). “They emerge out of and store within them forms of desire and fantasy and can take on fetish-like aspects that sometimes can be wholly autonomous from their technical function” (Larkin 2013, 329). The Crimean Bridge is an example of such poetic infrastructure with its arches displayed as a fetish on a full range of memorabilia and consumer products.

This ‘fetish-like’ aspect embraces all forms of media. There are exhibitions which promote touching the Bridge and experiencing it in virtual reality, videos that show the Crimean Bridge in 360 where you can investigate it remotely; and official statements that argue against claims that the Bridge was photoshopped. These examples hint to something in this fetishism that speaks from the matter of the Bridge. Discourse and matter cannot be easily disentangled here.

This entanglement of matter and discourse exposes propaganda to the vulnerabilities of its matter. Speaking through the language of popular culture, one can imagine the project of Crimean Bridge to be a Horcrux, a magical object created by Voldemort to contain the parts of his soul (Rowling 2005). Even though temporarily granting Voldemort with immortality, if Horcrux is destroyed, so is the soul contained in it (Rowling 2005). This metaphor is productive to imagine the Crimean Bridge as a ground on which national idea of Putin’s government makes itself vulnerable.

To trace the (dis)functions of the Crimean Bridge is to put the base of national uprising in danger.

Project done by:

Anna Engelhardt 

engelhardt [at] riseup.net

Grateful to Julien Mercier for deepfake support, Lucy Schwab and Santiago Rivas for emotional labour and insightful discussions, L for audio support and being around.