Nikolay Oleynikov: Zero Gravity Revolt (Brussels)

NIKOLAY OLEYNIKOV
(Chto Delat and more)
ZERO GRAVITY REVOLT

A learning mural

Curated by Elena Sorokina; choreographed by Ula Sickle

in collaboration with young artists, dancers and students from Académie Royale des Beaux Arts de Bruexelles, La Cambre, Ecole de Recherche Graphique, HISK, Sint-Lukas Brussel, Sint-Lucas Gent, PHL Limburg (M.A.D. Faculty)

and with a programme of talks, cooking, and nightwatch film screenings performed by Rossella Biscotti (Amsterdam), Adela Jusic and Lana Čmajčanin (Sarajevo) and others (TBA).

December 16, 2011—February 11, 2012
Opening: December 15, 6-9 p.m.

Artists’ talk with guests Oxana Timofeeva (Jan van Eyck Academy) and Ils Huygens (curator at Z33) on Sunday, December 4th, at 3pm; open to the public.

Komplot
295 Avenue Van Volxemlaan
B-1190 Brussels
info(at)kmplt.be
+32 484 713 175

First Project Narrative
In early Soviet science fiction, revolutions happened all over the solar system – on Mars, on the moon, and of course on Earth. Full of vivid social imagination, its authors described cosmic class struggles and social upheavals booming in space – forceful and impetuous. The labor of revolution was, however, supposed to create the new future conditions of labor as the building blocks. And here the revolutionary dynamics often got stuck on a single question: How will future humanity work? Should it work at all?

The visionary writer Andrei Platonov proposed several contradictory options. In his novel Foundation Pit, the protagonists work to point of total exhaustion. In Chevengur, on the contrary, they stop working altogether as a programmatic and radical gesture. Finally, in Juvenile Sea, they become ceaselessly inventive, displaying an exuberant working creativity.

Many writers of the 1920-30s hesitated between the abolition of labor, its extreme technologization, and its hyper-acceleration or total creativisation. The text “In one thousand years,” written in 1927, opts for a creative non-labor and describes the inhabitants of the future as dancing, singing, painting creatures, who also regularly engage in unassisted flight. Like art, levitation and flight are considered a creative pastime that keeps the new humanity busy. All these activities – more or less virtuosic but decidedly unalienated – can be read as pure self-expression or cultural dissemination. What they don’t accommodate – and the author is absolutely certain about it – is labor. Neither painting, nor dance, nor levitation contain any “work”.

This opinion was disputed by some: levitation as labor was most prominently theorized by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a great scientist but also a sci-fi writer. In his novels, people enjoy the low gravity on the moon while working on their research assignments. For Tsiolkovsky, the occupation of space by means of levitation is result of engineering labor and scientific work.

All these observations bring us to the central question of our project: How can we see the relation between work and levitation today, in the times of our precarious present and the prevailing conditions of groundlessness? Analyzing different types of labor as they were depicted in early Soviet sci-fi, we will investigate possible links between the levitating proletariat and today’s groundless precariat, which is trying to gain some leverage in occupying space and spaces. Keeping in mind Google Earth and surveillance technologies, we will try to imagine ourselves levitating while working. Finally, we will take this opportunity to look back to at the role models of the “working artist”, “managing artist” and the “artist trying not to work” and ultimately, we will ask how artistic labor today resonates with these ideas.

Method
About three years ago Oleynikov initiated a series of projects grounded in collective creative living. Since then, bringing together practitioners from different fields and organizing temporary communities in constant dialogue has become one of the essential elements of his artistic practice. This initiative was immediately taken up by several collectives, and was adopted as experimental non-stop seminars, congresses-communes or learning plays which have been recently presented at the ICA in London, Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, and at SMART and SCOR in Amsterdam, among other venues.

For Zero Gravity Revolt the artist and curator will conceive a specific temporality for the upcoming learning mural. The process will take 15 days, from the first brainstorming sessions to its actual “visible” result. This period of time will be filled with testing the ground, enacting the characters to be featured (flying proletariat as much as levitating bankers), training in levitation, screenings, talks, and informal exchanges. All this will result in the collective writing of a program for the mural, which might take a fictional form, and its ultimate completion.

Expected Results of the Project
On December 15, 2011, at the opening of the show, the spectator can discover the following. There is a high degree of probability that a mural, executed by all the participants of the project, will stand. It is not impossible that a performative action will be presented. A curatorial opening speech has serious potential to take place. And depending on the outcome of discussions, there might be a screening of a film, introduced by an artist. Finally, it is almost certain that a guided tour will be given by the artists and/or curator and the final press release written for the occasion.

Artist
Nikolay Oleynikov (born 1976) is a Moscow-based artist and activist, member of Chto Delat, editor for Chto Delat newspaper, member of the editorial board of Moscow Art Magazine, co-founder of the Learning Film Group, and the May Congress of Creative Workers. Known for his didactic murals and graphic works in the tradition of the Soviet monumental school, comics, surrealism, and punk culture. Represented worldwide by his solo projects as well as by a number of collective activities, Oleynikov has had numerous international shows at such venues as Mala Galerija, Ljubljana; ICA, London; Welling School, London; State Tretyakov Gallery and Paperworks Gallery, Moscow. His work has also been shown at Fargfabriken, Stockholm; New Museum, New York; Musée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (MAM/ARC), Paris; Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella; and the X Baltic Triennale in Vilnius.

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