Shortly after we first hear about the pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine, in February 2014, the short story Without Sky by Vladislav Surkov (under the pseudonym Natan Dubovitsky) appears in the Russian magazine Russian Pioneer. The science-fiction story takes place in the confusing environment of a post-apocalyptic earth, after the fifth world war. The entirety of the planet is in a continuous state of warface, in which factions constantly switch sides, unite and tear apart again. The main character has lost his ability to experience three-dimensionality during an accident. He unites himself with others whose life has become two-dimensional, without sky and only understanding for “yes” and “no”.

If it were only that we weren’t able to see the sky above our village, that would’ve been nothing. But even our thoughts lost the concept of height. We became two-dimensional. We understood only yes and no, only black and white. There was no ambiguity. No half tones. No escape. We couldn’t even lie.


We found a society and prepare ourselves for a revolt of the simple, two-dimensionals, against the sly and complex, against those who do not answer with “yes” or “no”, who not say “white” or “black”, who know a third word. Many third words. Empty, deceptive. Obstructing the way, and obscuring the truth.¹

Vladislav Surkov is the personal advisor of Vladimir Putin, and ‘creator’ and executor of Russia’s current strategy. He applies principles to his subversive politics that were taken directly from conceptual art. Turning Russia’s political environment into a constantly shapeshifting wasteland, undefinable and elusive, yet wondrous for anyone observing it. It may indeed be clear that a 'work’ of this character does not stop at a frame, a finissage or when the credits start rolling by. Surkov’s method drags us all into a current of confusion, be it through the media, physically or in reflection.

  1. Dubovitsky N., 2014. Bez neva [Without Sky]. Russian Pioneer, [online] Available at:

This text was originally written in 2014, and used again in 2017 for an exhibition titled 'Non-linear War'.