Due to irreconcilable differences between the editorial staff of Chtodelat News and the Chto Delat work group, this blog is closed until further notice. Archival materials from the past five years will still be available here, but no new postings will be made from today.
We are happy to share with you the details of the official public launch of our ArtLeaks Gazette which will take place at the Brecht Forum in NYC on Saturday, May 4th from 7 PM! Hope to see many of you there – we promise it will be an exciting evening! Please help us spread the word by sharing this announcement!
ArtLeaks members would like to initiate an open discussion at the Brecht Forum in NYC on May 4th from 7 PM, around our upcoming ArtLeaks Gazette, focused on establishing a politics of truth by breaking the silence on the art world. This will be the official public launch of our gazette, which will be available online and in print at the beginning of May 2013, and will be followed by a series of debates in the near future.
Artleaks was founded in 2011 as an international platform for cultural workers where instances of abuse, corruption and exploitation are exposed and submitted for public inquiry. After almost two years of activity, some members of ArtLeaks felt an urgent need to establish a regular online publication as a tool for empowerment, reflection and solidarity. (More about us here: http://art-leaks.org/about.)
Recently, this spectrum of urgencies and the necessity to address them has come sharply into the focus of fundamental discussions in communities involved in cultural production and leftist activist initiatives. Among these, we share the concerns of groups such as the Radical Education Collective (Ljubljana), Precarious Workers’ Brigade (PWB) (London), W.A.G.E. (NYC), Arts &Labor (NYC), the May Congress of Creative Workers (Moscow), Critical Practice (London) and others.
Eager to share our accumulated knowledge and facilitate a critical examination of the current conditions of the cultural field from a global perspective, we are equally interested in questioning, with the help of the participants in the event, the particular context of New York City with its cultural institutions, scenes and markets.
The event will be divided in two parts. In the first, we will announce and present the forthcoming ArtLeaks Gazette. Focusing on the theme “Breaking the Silence – Towards Justice, Solidarity and Mobilization,” the structure of the publication comprises six major sections: A. Critique of cultural dominance apparatuses; B. Forms of organization and history of struggles; C. The struggle of narrations; D. Glossary of terms; E. Education and its discontents; and F. Best practices and useful resources (More here http://art-leaks.org/artleaks-gazette.) This publication gathers contributions from different parts of the globe, highlighting both historical initiatives and emerging movements that engage issues related to cultural workers rights, censorship, repression and systemic exploitation under conditions of neoliberal capitalism.
This also becomes an opportunity to bring up for discussion a series of questions that have defined ArtLeaks’ activity and that we would like to tackle anew in conjunction with local cultural producers in the second part of the event: What are the conditions of the possibility of leaking information concerning institutional exploitation, censorship, and corruption in the art world? What does it mean to speak the truth in the art field and to whom may it be addressed? What analogies and what models can we use in order to describe and operate within the conditions in which cultural workers pursue their activities? We aim to bestow a greater level of concreteness to these questions by inviting the participants to share its own concerns and experiences related to inequality of chances, structural injustice and forced self-censorship within the context of their work. We are also interested in discussing current collaborations and future alliances and projects that unite common struggles across international locales. Visual and scriptural material which documents the evening will be uploaded on the ArtLeaks platform.
Gazette Contributors: Mykola Ridnyi, Gregory Sholette, Marsha Bradfield & Kuba Szreder (Critical Practice), Fokus Grupa, Amber Hickey, Lauren van Haaften-Schick, Organ kritischer Kunst, Veda Popovici, Milena Placentile, Jonas Staal & Evgenia Abramova
Editing Assistance: Jasmina Tumbas
Graphic Intervetions: Zampa di Leone
Facilitators of the event @ Brecht Forum: Corina Apostol & Dmitry Vilensky
The Brecht Forum has a donation sliding scale of $6 to $15. We recommend registering for this event in advance here. Even if you are unable to make a donation, we still encourage you to come – we will not turn away anyone that wishes to participate in the discussions.
Leningrad’s Perestroika: Crosscurrents in Photography, Video, and Music
April 20, 2013 – September 13, 2013
Dodge Wing Lower Level
Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University
71 Hamilton Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1248
This exhibition highlights the unique photographic, video, and musical innovations that shaped the Leningrad (now known as St. Petersburg) unofficial art culture during the period of glasnost and perestroika. It presents for the first time photographers, musicians, and video artists as active members of groups, rather than individual producers, to underscore their collective goals as part of a larger counter-cultural phenomenon in the city. The eclectic body of material produced over the span of a transformative decade shared a common goal: to stimulate the audience’s imagination in such a way as to disrupt everyday social interaction. Photography and video were considered unique media, able to cross the boundary between the present and the past, and thus became an important tool for fostering a reflective process. Their documentary character was exploited to reveal the city to its inhabitants, connecting individuals to the rapid transformations of Soviet society, while opening an anticipatory window into the future. Works by 20 artists are featured, the majority of which have never been exhibited before.
Organized by Corina L. Apostol, Dodge Fellow at the Zimmerli and Ph.D.candidate, Department of Art History
The exhibition is supported by the Avenir Foundation Endowment Fund.
Art After Hours: Russian Art, Rock, and Film / Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Political Narration in Contemporary Photography and Film / Thursday, May 2, 2013
Location: Plangere Writing Center in Murray Hall, Room 302, College Avenue Campus
Sponsored by the Developing Room with assistance from the Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University
Image: Ludmila Fedorenko, Untitled, 1989. Silver gelatin print. Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers, Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union
Photography, Film & Political Narration
This event explores strategies of political narration in contemporary photography and film. Discussion will focus on the practices of Dmitry Vilensky and his collective Chto Delat?/What Is To Be Done? Operating at the intersection of political theory, art, and activism, the artists’ work deftly combines photography, film, and audio commentary. Its goal is to bring back into memory events of the past that hold emancipatory potential for the present. Vilensky will facilitate a discussion of his practices, which are featured in the exhibition Leningrad’s Perestroika: Crosscurrents in Photography, Video and Music, on view at the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum from April 20 to September 13, 2013.
This film is inspired by Engels’ book written in 1844, The Condition of the Working Class in England. How much has really changed since then?
In 2012 a group of working class people from Manchester and Salford come together to create a theatrical show from scratch based on their own experiences and Engels’ book. They have eight weeks before their first performance. The Condition of the Working Class follows them from the first rehearsal to the first night performance and situates their struggle to get the show on stage in the context of the daily struggles of ordinary people facing economic crisis and austerity politics. The people who came together to do the show turned from a group of strangers, many of whom had never acted before, into The Ragged Collective, in little more than two months.
This film, full of political passion and anger, is a wonderful testament to the creativity, determination and camaraderie of working people that blows the media stereotypes of the working class out of the water.
The Condition of the Working Class will be screened in these venues in 2013:
All screenings will be followed by a Q & A with the film’s directors.
Wednesday May 1st NOTTAGE MARITIME INSTITUTE 7.30pm. The Quay, Wivenhoe, Colchester, Essex CO7 9BX.
Tuesday May 7th: CALDERS BOOKSHOP London, The Cut, Waterloo, 7.30pm. http://calderbookshop.com/
Wednesday May 8th: GOLDSMITH’S UNIVERSITY New Cross, London, 6.30pm, main building (RHB) room 144.
Saturday May 11th: UPSTAIRS AT THE CARRIAGE WORKS, Leeds, 7.30pm. http://www.carriageworkstheatre.org.uk/
Tuesday May 14th: CALDERS BOOKSHOP London, The Cut, Waterloo, 7.30pm. http://calderbookshop.com/
Tuesday May 14th: SCREENING IN NEW YORK AS PART OF THE WORKERS UNITE FILM FESTIVAL http://www.workersunitefilmfestival.org/schedule/
Wednesday May 15th: THE WORKING CLASS MOVEMENT LIBRARY, Salford, 2pm. http://www.wcml.org.uk/
Saturday May 18th: MINERS COMMUNITY CENTRE, Moston, 7.30pm. http://www.smallcinema.re-dock.org/category/films. Invited back for a second screening at the Moston! We can’t be there this time but hopefully some of the Ragged Collective may be.
Saturday May 25th: LA CASA, Liverpool 2.pm at 29 Hope Street, L1 9BQ.
Thursday June 6th: The CLF ART CAFE, 7.30pm. 133 Rye Lane, London, SE15 4ST.
Friday June 7th: THE WORKING MEN’S COLLEGE, 7.00pm. 44 Crowndale Rd, London, NW1 1TR.
Tuesday June 11th: THE HOUSE OF COMMONS (GRAND COMMITTEE ROOM), 7.30pm (This is a public screening, please allow 20 mins to get through security).
Wednesday June 12th: METAL AT EDGE HILL STATION, 6.30pm. Tunnel Road, Liverpool http://www.metalculture.com/
Thursday June 13th: NORTHERN VISIONS MEDIA CENTRE , 5.30pm 23 Donegall Street, Belfast.
This is part of the Irish Congress of Trades Unions’ Festival of Ideas.
Saturday June 15th: DELI-LAMA CAFE, 3.00pm. 220 Chapel Street, Salford.
Sunday June 16th: UNOFFICIAL HISTORIES CONFERENCE, Peoples History Museum – but open only to conference attendees.
Saturday June 22nd: THE NEW THEATRE CONNOLLY BOOKS, 2.00pm 43 Essex Street, Dublin.
MORE DATES TO FOLLOW
The Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights 2013 is awarded to the Russian Valentin Urusov
Falsely imprisoned for leading a strike in Russia
The Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights for 2013 is awarded to Russian trade union leader Valentin Urusov. He was falsely imprisoned after leading a strike against dangerous working conditions in the diamond industry.
“Urusov has become symbolic of the struggle for workers’ rights and freedom of association in Russia,” says Leif Sande, committee chair and head of the LO trade union Industri Energi.
The Arthur Svensson prize is a prize from a broad Norwegian trade union movement. This year’s prize goes to fearless trade union leader Valentin Urusov, who has been falsely imprisoned for many years. As the leader of the trade union Profsvoboda at Alrosa, the world’s second largest diamond mining company, he led a hunger strike with more than one thousand workers against inhumane working conditions and low pay.
The prize committee:
Leif Sande, Committee Chair (Industri Energi), former LO presidents Gerd-Liv Valla and Yngve Hågensen, Randi Bjørgen (former President of the Confederation of Vocational Unions), Helga Hjetland (former President of the Union of Education Norway), Finn Erik Thoresen (Board Leader of Norwegian People’s Aid) and Liv Tørres (General Secretary of Norwegian People’s Aid).
A forced confession
After the strike, Urusov was arrested, beaten up and his life was threatened. He was forced to sign a confession admitting possession of drugs. The police had brought an executive from Alrosa along as a witness, an example of how the company controls courts and the police in the republic.
“He was imprisoned on what were clearly false accusations, and both the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Russian and international trade union organisations have been involved in trying to get him released,” says Leif Sande, committee chair and head of the LO trade union Industri Energi, which took the initiative for the prize.
Released, but not free
Urusov was released in March of this year after it became known that he had been nominated for the Svensson prize. The rest of his five year prison sentence has been converted into a fine demanding 15% of his income throughout the remainder of his sentence. In addition, he is not permitted to leave the country.
The imprisonment and harassment of Urusov has become symbolic of the struggle for workers’ rights and freedom of association in Russia.
The committee alludes to the fact that he has full support from all the Russian trade unions, and that he was nominated for the prize by a number of trade union organisations throughout Europe. The international trade union movement, led by the International Trade Union Confederation, has been highly involved in his case.
“The Arthur Svensson international prize is first and foremost a helping hand – and an acknowledgment – to union officials and trade unionists around the world fighting for workers’ rights under dangerous conditions,” says Sande. We thank this year’s recipient of the prize, Valentin Urusov, for his courage in the fight against poor working conditions in the Russian diamond industry.
The committee expresses concern
In their citation, the committee write that they are concerned about the workers’ rights situation in Russia. The right of free association, right to collective bargaining and right to strike have long been under pressure, and it may appear that conditions are deteriorating further under Putin’s current regime. Thus, the prize is also being awarded to bring these conditions into focus, and in support of Russian workers.
For more information about the prize: www.svenssonprize.com
The Arthur Svensson International Prize
The Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights is awarded to individuals who, or organisations which, have made noteworthy efforts to promote the work of trade unions and workers’ rights nationally and internationally. Last year’s prize went to the Cambodian trade union the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers Democratic Union, C.CAWDU. The prize is NOK 500,000 and is awarded annually. The prize is named for the former leader of the Norwegian Union of Chemical Industry Workers, Arthur Svensson, who was especially engaged in international solidarity.
This year, the prize will be awarded during a formal ceremony held at Folkets Hus on 19 June.
Photo by Aleskey Maishev
This is what our comrade Alexei Gaskarov looked like after riot cops got done with him on May 6, 2012, on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow. Yesterday, almost a year after the ominous events that took place there and the arrests, persecution and, in some cases, exile of several dozen opposition activists and ordinary citizens who were also there that day (and some who weren’t), Gaskarov was arrested while out buying food for his cat, transported to the Investigative Committee for questioning, charged with “rioting” and “violence against authorities,” and jailed. A Moscow district court will hear his case today and decide whether he will remain in police custody.
Thanks to an anonymous Facebook comrade for the photo.
April 23, 2013
Russian Commission Blames Authorities For Bolotnaya Protest Violence
by RFE/RL’s Russian Service
MOSCOW — An independent investigation has blamed the Russian authorities and police for the violence that erupted at an opposition protest on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square last year.
The investigative commission, composed of leading public figures and rights advocates, released its findings late on April 22 at a public event in Moscow.
The report blames riot police for “excessive use of force” against demonstrators on May 6, 2012, resulting in numerous injuries.
Authorities have only recognized injuries sustained by police officers.
More than 20 demonstrators have been charged with participating in “mass unrest” and assaulting police.
Fifteen remain in pretrial detention and four are under house arrest. All face prison if convicted.
Georgy Satarov, the head of the INDEM think tank in Moscow and a former aide to Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin, co-authored the report.
He told RFE/RL that the demonstrators’ reactions were understandable.
“They defended themselves and they defended others. Many of those who were not arrested and are now free would have done the same,” Satarov said.
The report says riot-police officers beat up “helpless, unarmed people,” including women and elderly people.
It blames police for deliberately creating bottlenecks by blocking the protesters’ path, contributing to tensions.
It also accuses the authorities of sending a “significant number of provocateurs” into the crowd to spark clashes — a claim backed by witnesses as well as the Kremlin’s human rights council.
Satarov said the pieces of asphalt that some the defendants are accused of throwing at police had been placed on the square ahead of the rally.
“Bolotnaya Square was cordoned off overnight, it was surrounded by a tight fence inside which the asphalt was cut into pieces,” Satarov said.
“This circumstance was fully used by provocateurs. There are a multitude of other signs that indicate a planned provocation by authorities.”
One of the defendants in the so-called Bolotnaya case, Maksim Luzyanin, has already been sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty and cooperating with investigators.
Authorities say their probe into the other defendants is nearing completion.
Investigators are still tracking down some 70 other protesters they suspect of disruptive behavior at the rally.
The investigative commission plans to send its report to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Parliament, and the United Nations.
It was formed by the opposition party RPR-PARNAS, the December 12 Roundtable civil group, and the May 6 Committee. It includes top rights activists like Lyudmila Alekseyeva and a number of prominent public figures such as economist and former Economy Minister Yevgeny Yasin.
On April 28 in Moscow, Alexei Gaskarov, a member of the Zhukovsky People’s Council, was arrested on the street. After being questioned as a witness at the Investigative Committee, his status was changed to that of a suspect and he was charged with violation of Article 212, Part 2 (involvement in riots) and Article 318, Part 1 of the Criminal Code (use of violence against the authorities) as part of the criminal case surrounding the events on May 6, 2012, on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow.
During elections to the Zhukovsky People’s Council, over a thousand residents of Zhukovsky (Moscow Region) showed their confidence in Alexei Gaskarov. And that was quite natural, as Alexei has consistently spoken out for justice and defended the interests of its citizens over the years. He has been a defender of the Tsagovsky Forest, a grassroots observer of elections at all levels of government, and an opponent of infill construction in the town of Zhukovsky.
Gaskarov has been actively involved in the work of the Zhukovsky People’s Council, initiating new projects for developing the town. He was directly involved in shaping the concept for the “Zhukdor” movement for renovating the town’s residential courtyards and adjacent territories. Gaskarov is also one of the authors of a white paper on urban development in Zhukovsky that has been submitted to the town administration. Gaskarov has also been actively engaged in programs encouraging the personal development of young people in the town of Zhukovsky. In particular, he has organized a series of free seminars that featured screenings of documentaries on topical social issues.
We, the members of Zhukovsky People’s Council, earnestly declare that Alexei Gaskarov is a sober-minded, law-abiding person and an advocate of the peaceful reform of our country’s social and political system.
We believe there is no justification for remanding Gaskarov to police custody and are willing to vouch for the fact that, if released, he will not conceal himself from investigators or hinder the investigation.
We are outraged by the charges, and believe they discredit law enforcement agencies in the eyes of the public and have nothing to do with the observance of the law in a state governed by the rule of law.
People like Alexei Gaskarov are the best part of civil society, a society based on justice and decent lives for its citizens, a society that will surely be created in our country.
Well-Known Russian Anti-Fascist Alexei Gaskarov Arrested
On Sunday, April 28, 2013, the well-known Russian anti-fascist Alexei Gaskarov was arrested in Moscow. He is an elected member of the Russian opposition’s Coordinating Council. The Russian Investigative Committee has accused him of involvement in riots and violence against officials on May 6, 2012, when OMON (Russian riot police) attacked a peaceful, authorized demonstration in Moscow.
May 6 was the day before Putin’s inauguration, and a mass demonstration had been called by the opposition. The winter and spring of 2011-2012 saw the biggest wave of political demonstrations in Russia in almost twenty years, as tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest election fraud. May 6 was also the first time authorities had moved to crush these protests. According to the opposition, more than 600 people were arrested that day, and 28 people have subsequently been charged in connection with these events, remanded to police custody, placed under house arrest or forced to emigrate.
On May 6, 2012, OMON officers beat Alexei Gaskarov with batons and boots. He filed a complaint against the officers who beat him up, but no one was charged. Now, a year later, and just a few days before the anniversary of the May 6 demonstration, as Gaskarov was preparing to lead a left-wing and anti-fascist column at May Day demonstrations, he has had a set of absurd charges brought against him and been arrested.
Alexei Gaskarov was born on June 18, 1985, and has been politically active since his school days.
Gaskarov gained fame in summer 2010, when, during the protest campaign against the destruction of the Khimki Forest, he was arrested along with Maxim Solopov and accused of orchestrating an attack by 300 to 400 young anti-fascists, who supported the environmentalists, on the Khimki city administration building. In autumn 2010, Gaskarov and Solopov were released from prison, thanks to a massive international campaign on behalf of the “Khimki Hostages.” In summer 2011, Gaskarov was acquitted of all charges.
Gaskarov has been actively involved in the mass demonstrations against electoral fraud in Russia since they began in December 2011. He was one of the speakers at the largest of the demonstrations, on December 24, 2011, on Sakharov Boulevard in Moscow. He was in charge of the security for that rally, where he had to stop neo-Nazi provocations.
Gaskarov is being held in the police jail at Petrovka, 38, awaiting a court hearing, scheduled for 11 am, April 29, 2013 at the Basmanny district courthouse in Moscow. Pending the court’s decision, Gaskarov will be remanded or released.
Svetlana Sidorkina (Gaskarov’s lawyer): +7 (926) 557-9016
Editor’s Note. We have slightly edited the original article to make it more readable.
MOSCOW, August 1 – RAPSI. Opposition activist Alexei Gaskarov has filed an application with the investigative authorities, claiming that he was beaten up by riot police officers during the March of Millions, the Agora human rights organization told the Russian Legal Information Agency on Wednesday.
Gaskarov has also provided a video of the beating to the investigators.
Agora reported that Gaskarov went to the Interior Ministry’s Internal Security Department to speak with investigators about the Bolotnaya Square riots. During the questioning, he gave the investigators a four minute video demonstrating how he was beaten by police officers.
According to Gaskarov, the investigators said they would look into his statement within a month.
Gaskarov sent a statement about his beating to Moscow Investigative Department head Vadim Yakovenko.
Clashes with the police flared up on May 6 during an opposition march across Moscow, which had been granted official permission. Tens of protesters and police officers were injured. The police detained over 400 rally participants.
After May 6, the opposition continued its protests in the form of “people’s promenades.”