Mounted high on the back of his valiant steed, the upright hero dutifully crosses a shiny river to the slow drum of hoofs, on a picturesque yet sturdy bridge. Humbler humans might find themselves stuck in the middle of a murky swamp, hopping for their lives from one deceptive hillock to another, the grassier the phonier. Aren't our sympathies given to those who screw their eyes shut and make it miraculously to the safer turf of dreams?
Grisha Bluger's mixed-media installation Sanzetti's Run is a Rashomon-like tribute to one such humble human, a man who invented his dream and himself. "One day in 1922," the informative introduction begins, "a freighter from Vladivostok arrived in the port of Shanghai, [delivering] a stowaway - a young energetic Russian Jew by the name of Sioma Lifshitz.... Sporting the nom de plume Sam Sanzetti, he soon became a celebrated photographer and the owner of a classy studio."
Using Sanzetti's own photographs, an article from an old magazine and his own beguiling, film-noir-esque textual and pictorial re-imaginings, Bluger delivers a touching and witty multi-faceted reflection upon the nature of nostalgia, elucidating the workings of pathos in the transformation of a life into narrated artifact.
"My life," Bluger once said, "is the tenth cup of tea from the teabag of my dreams." In his rendering, Lifschitz / Sanzetti teeters on the brink of attaining the elusive goal of many an immigrant, to ensure that Life is forever the first cup from that glorified teabag.