Category Archives: art exhibitions

Yevgeniy Fiks, Homosexuality Is Stalin’s Atom Bomb to Destroy America (New York)

Yevgeniy Fiks
Homosexuality Is Stalin’s Atom Bomb to Destroy America

October 26 – December 22, 2012
Opening Reception: Friday, October 26, 2012

Winkleman Gallery is very pleased to present Homosexuality Is Stalin’s Atom Bomb to Destroy America, our third solo exhibition by New York-based artist Yevgeniy Fiks. Taking its title from a 1953 article by the Cold Warrior and pundit Arthur Guy Mathews, this exhibition explores the historical and ideological links between anti-Communism and homophobia in the United States, as well as the intersections between Communism and sexual identity as it played out during the 20th century. Works in the exhibition range from dry factuality to humor, and farce, and posit the 20th century queerness as the shared Other of the Communism-Capitalism dichotomy, while tracing the uneasy yet tangible historical links between the early 20th century Communist activism and the gay rights movement of the second half of the century.

The exhibition delves into the interlocking histories of the “Red” and “Lavender” scares during the McCarthy-era, when anti-Communist and anti-gay sentiments were fused together in the Cold War witch-hunt rhetoric. Pundits and government officials went as far as envisioning a sinister conspiracy: the Soviet Union is promoting homosexuality as a tool to destroy America. Concurrently, the federal government purged homosexuals that it employed, calling them “security risks”—vulnerable of being blackmailed by Soviet agents into working for them.  Ironically, in response to and mirroring its ideological enemy, the American Communist Party also purged known gays from its ranks—marking them as “security risks”—for fear that gay Communists were vulnerable to blackmail and could become informants for the Feds. The official charter of the Communist Party USA even before its 1950s anti-gay purge strictly prohibited gays from membership, adhering to the policies of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union where homosexuality was officially criminalized under Stalin and stigmatized as a “capitalist degeneracy.”

Works in the exhibition include Stalin’s Atom Bomb a.k.a. Homosexuality, a series of prints that highlights paranoid anti-communist and anti-gay quotations from American politicians and pundits of the era. Another series, Joe-1 Cruising in Washington, DC includes photographs of a six-foot cutout of the 1949 Soviet nuclear test explosion RDS-1—codenamed in the US as “Joe-1″—posing, in 2012, at locations that had been popular gay cruising sites in Washington D.C. circa 1930s-1950s. The Security Risk Map of Manhattan maps gay cruising and Communist meeting sites of the 1930-1950s, presenting an open ended question about the “conspiracy” and overlap between the two groups.

Two installations focus on a particular historical figure whose life epitomized this ironic and widely unknown intersection of policies. The piece History of the CPUSA (Harry Hay) consists of a 1952 edition of History of the Communist Party of the United States by William Z. Foster, with inserts about the life and work of Harry Hay (1912–2002). Harry Hay was a communist activist who was forced out of the CPUSA during the McCarthy era, and who later became one of the founders of the gay rights movement in the United States. The work Marxism and the National Question (Harry Hay) is an installation that consists of Joseph Stalin’s 1942 English edition books, Marxism and the National Question, in which Stalin outlines his definition of national minorities. This book sparked Harry Hay’s groundbreaking concept that “gay” constitute a minority—similar to African-Americans or Jews—and as a separate people they are entitled to civil rights. In a whim of historical irony, Hay appropriated the writings by the oppressive Soviet Thermidorian dictator and turned them into a tool of liberation, laying a foundation for the gay movement in the United States.

Yevgeniy Fiks was born in Moscow in 1972 and has been living and working in New York since 1994. Fiks has produced many projects on the subject of the Post-Soviet dialog in the West, among them: Ayn Rand in Illustration, a series of drawing pairing descriptive text from Atlas Shrugged with uncannily complimentary Soviet Socialist Realism classic artworks; “Lenin for Your Library?” in which he mailed V.I. Lenin’s text “Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism” to one hundred global corporations as a donation for their corporate libraries; “Communist Party USA,” a series of portraits of current members of Communist Party USA, painted from life in the Party’s national headquarters in New York City; and “Communist Guide to New York City,” a series of photographs of buildings and public places in New York City that are connected to the history of the American Communist movement. Fiks’ work has been shown internationally. This includes exhibitions in the United States at Winkleman and Postmasters galleries (both in New York), Mass MoCA, and the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art; the Moscow Museum of Modern Art and Marat Guelman Gallery in Moscow; Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros in Mexico City, and the Museu Colecção Berardo in Lisbon. His work has been included in the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2011, 2009, 2007 and 2005), Biennale of Sydney (2008) and Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art (2007).

For more information, contact Edward Winkleman at 212.643.3152 or edward@winkleman.com.

Image above: Yevgeniy Fiks, Joe-1 Cruising in Washington, DC (Monument Grounds), 2012, photograph.

Winkleman Gallery
621 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001
t: 212.643.3152
www.winkleman.com

Leave a comment

Filed under art exhibitions, international affairs, leftist movements, political repression

From Below, as a Neighbour (Rijeka, Croatia)

www.electra-productions.com

From Below, as a Neighbour

Babi Badalov, BADco., Bibliothek der Sachgeschichten, Kajsa Dahlberg, Öyvind Fahlström, Mark Leckey, Jennie Livingston, Carlos Motta, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Želimir Žilnik

25 October—6 November 2012
‘Mine, Yours, Ours’, Drugo More, Rijeka, Croatia

-

From Below, as a Neighbour turns to the fragile institution: strategic detachments practiced within temporary spaces of agency and relief. The exhibition forms the latest chapter in an ongoing exploration of utopistic thought and practice extending from the first ‘Summit of Micronations’, a congress for new country projects held in Helsinki in 2003.

Taking this model as a point of departure, From Below, as a Neighbour seeks to radically expand on the micronation as a form of self-organisation, to explore alternative approaches that subvert and destabilize normative structures. In the works, the desire to produce forms of knowledge that also displace the knowledge itself, is present both as a practice and fantasy of shared autonomy. It is a take on utopia that emphasises the role of tenderness in collective politics, as a politics based not on the possibility that we might be reconciled, but on a continuous and nervous tension between self-determination and solidarity.

From Below, as a Neighbour, brings together a site-specific installation by Zagreb-based performance collective BADco., an Armin Maiwald film realised as part of his long-running series Bibliothek der Sachgeschichten or ‘Library of Factual Stories’, alongside Öyvind Fahlström’s choreographed street parade, Mao-Hope March and Kajsa Dahlberg’s exploration of the potentiality of representational invisibility. Included in the exhibition is also visual poetry and collages by Babi Badalov, We Who Feel Differently, a series of prints by Carlos Motta, Mark Leckey’s Fiorucci Made me Hardcore, as well as work by pioneering Black Wave filmmaker and activist Želimir Žilnik.

Accompanying the exhibition is also a cinema-based screening of Jennie Livingston’s 1990 documentary film Paris is Burning, followed by the performance of a new work by Pil and Galia Kollectiv. Pil and Galia’s part film, part performance Terminal takes the form of a future morality play, one which turns to dystopia as a ritual and excercise.

From Below as a Neighbour is curated by Fatima Hellberg (Electra) and realised as part of Practical Utopias, an ongoing collaboration between YKON (Finland), Electra (UK) and Drugo More (Croatia).

The exhibition and performance programme takes place as part of the ‘Mine, Yours, Ours’ festival, Drugo More, with the support of the British Council, Croatia; Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia; and the City of Rijeka.

Funders

-
Image credit: Achterbahn, Bibliothek der Sachgeschichten, 1992, courtesy of WDR mediagroup dialog GmbH

Leave a comment

Filed under art exhibitions, contemporary art

Occupy Everything (St. Lambrecht, Austria)

Occupy Everything
An exhibition organized by Oliver Ressler
for REGIONALE12 in St. Lambrecht, Austria, June 23–July 22, 2012

The financial and economic crisis intensified the related redistribution from the bottom up, this brought forth new protest movements in 2011: the Arab Spring, the movement of the squares in Spain and Greece, and the Occupy movement starting from the USA. Although these movements do not directly communicate with each other, they do have something in common: they are regionally active, non-hierarchical movements that reject representation and use direct democracy to make decisions. Occupying central public places serves as a catalyst to form and develop political projects and working groups. Successful occupations in one place can often inspire occupations in other cities.

The movements of the squares generally do not focus on particular grievances, but organize against the general way in which society and economy are controlled against the wishes and desires of the 99 percent.

The exhibition Occupy Everything in the pavilion at St. Lambrecht brings together projects that come directly from the square movements or deal directly with them.

The filmmaker Stefano Savona focused his film Tahrir, Liberation Square (F/I/Egypt, 2011) on the uprisings in Cairo, which ended with the resignation of the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. Savona systematically took the perspective of the insurgents at Tahrir, which he followed for several days without the camera’s view leaving the square even once. He makes tangible the conditions of a very specific time and place in the struggle that took place in Tahrir, which has since become synonymous with the possibility of successfully changing a social reality from below.

The New York artists collective Not An Alternative develops works to be used directly for occupations, demonstrations and other activities of Occupy Wall Street. They developed tactical and symbolic infrastructure that include eviction defense shields, multipurpose tents (“mili-tents”) and the yellow and black tape with “Occupy” lettering spread throughout New York. The works show the importance of practical artworks in the struggles for social change.

A central element in the pavilion is a 10-meter-long wall covered from floor to ceiling with 52 posters of the Occupy movement collected by Occuprint. The posters from around the globe have served to mobilize and disseminate political opinions; they express the amazing multiplicity of the movement. The posters come from activists, political groups and artists (including Paul Chan, Dread Scott, Noel Douglas).

The wall of posters has an opening that leads into the projection space of the 3-channel video installation Take The Square (2012) by Oliver Ressler. Three video projections show films of discussions that Ressler initiated with activists from 15M in Madrid, the Syntagma Square movement in Athens and Occupy Wall Street in New York. The video installation commissioned for REGIONALE12 re-enacts the working groups of the square movements; it deals with issues of organization, horizontal decision-making processes in the assemblies and the meaning and function of occupation of public spaces.

Leave a comment

Filed under activism, art exhibitions, international affairs, protests, urban movements (right to the city)

Everything Falls Apart (Sydney)

Artspace, Sydney

june12_artspace_imf.jpg
Tony Garifalakis, “Anti Christs” (detail), 2012.
C-type print. Courtesy of the artist.

Everything Falls Apart
Part I: 
27 June–5 August 2012
Opening: Wednesday, 27 June, 6pm

Part II: 
10 August–16 September 2012
Opening: Thursday, 9 August, 6pm

Artspace, Sydney
43–51 Cowper Wharf Road
Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
Sydney, Australia
Hours: Office 10–6pm, Mon–Fri
Gallery 11–5pm, Tues–Sun

T +61 2 9356 0555
artspace@artspace.org.au
www.artspace.org.au

Part I: Alessandro Balteo Yazbeck in collaboration with Media Farzin, Jem Cohen, Phil Collins, Sarah Goffman, and Sarah Morris
Part II: Vernon Ah Kee, Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler, Jem Cohen, Tony Garifalakis, and Merata Mita
Curators:
Mark Feary and Blair French

Everything Falls Apart brings together several significant works by international and Australian artists presented over two exhibitions. Overall, the project focuses on works examining the collapse of ideological and political systems—actual, imagined, desired—be this via specific events or through broader consideration of the dissolution of or confrontation with capitalist, colonial, or totalitarian regimes. The works often draw on existing footage, personal recollection, and reconstitution. They form around relationships between the individual and the mass, felt or articulated through interwoven conversation, testimony, and narrative.

Part I clusters works that act as reflective analysis in and of the aftermath of system disintegration, including ecological and cultural belief systems. Part II homes in on the moments and territories of conflict—the abrasive meeting of institutionalised power and its counter-energies and structures. With an emphasis upon video work, woven together by new installation interventions, common threads connecting these distinct works become apparent: failings of the state, crumbling ideologies, dissolving authoritative measures of control, the generative energies and collective impulses of anti-institutional collective cultural and social identity, the failings of history as both efficacious event narrative and discursive form, the individual as both the subject of and counterforce to the dominance of the mass.

Everything Falls Apart will be presented at Artspace in the organisation’s twentieth year in the Gunnery building fronting Sydney Harbour in Wolloomooloo. The exhibition series forges connections between the work of major international artists such as Phil Collins, Sarah Morris, and Alessandro Balteo Yazbeck (in collaboration with Media Farzin) and projects by Australia-based Vernon Ah Kee, Zanny Begg, Tony Garifalakis, and Sarah Goffman. The two parts of the project are linked by a number of film works by American filmmaker Jem Cohen, with Part I of Everything Falls Apart featuring Cohen’s Gravity Hill Newsreel series, and Part II presenting the film Little Flags (1991–2000). Everything Falls Apart will also feature three screenings of late New Zealand filmmaker Merata Mita’s Patu! (1983).

Symposium
In association with the exhibition, Artspace and the National Institute for Experimental Arts, University of New South Wales will present a one-day symposium, Another World, on 17 August 2012. Another World will ask how twenty-first-century global crises—whether financial, environmental, social, or political—have transformed the context of art practice and analysis. In the face of the Occupy movements, the Arab Spring, climate change, and environmental disaster, what new aesthetic tactics and strategies are emerging? How do new ways of operating challenge existing modes of representation, exhibition-making, and theoretical analysis? Do we need to rethink our disciplinary practices in response to the demands of the momentous events that shape contemporaneity or the new everyday? Participants will include Jill Bennett (National Institute for Experimental Art, UNSW), Blair French (Artspace), Nicholas Mirzoeff (New York University), Kim Simon (Gallery TPW, Toronto), and Terry Smith (University of Pittsburgh).

Artspace is supported by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian, State, and Territory Governments. Artspace is assisted by the New South Wales Government through Arts NSW and by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its principal arts funding body. Artspace is a member of CAOs (Contemporary Art Organisations Australia) and Res Artis (International Association of Residential Art Centres).

june12_artspace_logo.jpg

Leave a comment

Filed under art exhibitions, contemporary art

I Will Never Talk About the War Again (Maribor)

I Will Never Talk About the War Again

Opening: Friday, June 8, 2012, 8 pm

This exhibition is open until August 30, 2012.

Venues: KIBLA at Narodni dom Maribor and KIT at Glavni trg 14, Maribor, Slovenija

Performance during the opening of the exhibition

Alma Suljević, Holy Warrioress – Interference

Artists: Lana Čmajčanin, Chto Delat, Igor Grubić, Adela Jušić, Nikolay Oleynikov, Shadow Museum/Jaroslav Supek, Alma Suljević

Curator: Vladan Jeremić

The exhibition I Will Never Talk about the War Again will be presented for the first time in Slovenia as a part of the programme created by KIBLA for the manifestation Maribor 2012: European Capital of Culture. The exhibition has been produced by KIBLA and Biro Beograd, with the support of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia, Maribor 2012 Institute – European Capital of Culture, and the City Council of the Municipality of Maribor.

The exhibition I Will Never Talk about the War Again presents the works of artists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia and Russia focused on critical social analysis and testimonies of violence and trauma connected with recent wars in the countries of the former Yugoslavia.

Under a heavy burden of wars, ethnic nationalisms and socioeconomic stratification processes, generated by neoliberal capitalism’s ideology, almost all states formed after the destruction of Yugoslavia suffer from neocolonial dependency imposed by global capital and permanent crisis at the European economic periphery. In such a constantly antagonistic social and political context there are certain popular positions in which testimonies of war trauma are represented, manifested and interpreted. That is why many representations in the field of cultural production and contemporary art don’t succeed in escaping from stereotypes.

The exhibition I Will Never Talk about the War Again deals with the question of whether contemporary artistic practice can find a language with which it would be possible to speak politically about individual and collective war and post-war experiences, without slipping into exoticization. Is it possible to find an adequate artistic formula, and is it always necessary to create empathy in the process of understanding? Silence and amnesia are the most common reactions to trauma; does art in this sense actually also remain silent by using only the symbolic language of images and sounds, staying in the field of mediation and symbolism?

The title of the exhibition is borrowed from the video performance I Will Never Talk about the War Again, by two artists from Sarajevo, Adela Jušić and Lana Čmajčanin.

I Will Never Talk About the War Again is a modified version of the initial exhibition presented in 2011, as a collaborative effort of Biro Beograd and Center for Art and Architecture from Stockholm Färgfabriken, under the title Psychosis 1 – I will Never Talk About the War Again.

Artwork (above) by Nikolay Oleynikov

Download the exhibition booklet here.

Leave a comment

Filed under art exhibitions, contemporary art, war & peace

Chto Delat: The Lesson on Dis-Consent

The Lesson on Dis-Consent

This performance was recorded at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden on October 28, 2011.

This piece continues the series of musicals (songspiels) written and produced by Chto Delat and composed by Mikhail Krutik over the past three years.

The occasion for this latest work was the Chto Delat solo show at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden. We could not pass up this opportunity to engage in dialogue with the legacy of Bertolt Brecht, who premiered two works, Mahagonny-Songspiel (1927) and The Baden-Baden Lesson on Consent (1929), at the new German chamber music festival in this same city. We wanted to produce a new piece in direct dialogue and debate with the work of this great master.

The piece is based on a critical reading of a number of texts produced by the anti-psychiatry movement, which emerged in the late sixties and early seventies in the Europe and US, especially those of the well-known Socialist Patients’ Collective in Heidelberg. In our performance, a “chorus of patients” that has been invited to appear at the exhibition opening becomes engaged in dialogue with the audience.

It is also noteworthy that Baden-Baden is a city with deep historical ties to Russia, and even today it is frequented by members of the Russian elite, who go there to relax and seek medical treatment. We thought it important to critically reflect this state of affairs: thus, one of the characters in our performance is a “typical” Russian businessman, who argues with the chorus and voices the values of this new class.

Our work critiques the modern concept of a healthy lifestyle and discusses how we might radicalize it and “turn illness into a weapon.”

_____

The Lesson on Dis-Consent will be featured at the Ante-Exhibition on May 5–6, 2012, at the Kirkgate Centre in Shipley, West Yorkshire.

Leave a comment

Filed under art exhibitions, contemporary art, film and video, political repression

Artists Challenge the “True Finns”

www.kunstkritikk.com
December 9, 2011
Challenging the Finns
By Taru Elfving

Fatmir Mustafa-Carlo, Muharremi, Muharremi, Xhaferi, Bajrushi, Xhyla, Shkurija, Hava, Nurije, Halimja, Rifadija, Faiki, Bashkimi, Besijana, Fatlumja, Marigiona, Zarifja, Valbona, Shpresa, Kujtesa, Enesi, Altina, Endriti, Olsa and Lejana, 2011

Birdhouses modeled after European detention centers for asylum seekers by Otto Karvonen. A large photographic portrait of his extensive Kosovan family displayed in the busy heart of Helsinki by Fatmir Mustafa-Carlo. A refugee camp set up at the city centre as a live action game by Johanna Raekallio, JP Kaljonen and Haidi Motola.

These artists’ projects were powerful and urgently needed contributions to the public debate in Finland this Autumn following the parliamentary elections that shook the country in April 2011. The right-wing populist party The True Finns hijacked media attention. Their election programme posited culture as the first main topic, before social welfare, EU, taxation etc. They demanded an end to the public funding of “postmodern fake art”: art should be supporting national identity. Finnish intellectuals pointed out all the weaknesses in these arguments and laughed. The party then won by a landslide to become the third biggest party in the parliament with about 20% of the votes (up from 4% in the previous election).

Otto Karvonen, Birdhouse

How have the arts responded to this party, which recently changed its English name simply to The Finns, in line with their claim to represent the “people”? The election has been followed not so much by changes in arts funding but considerable toughening of the public discourse on immigration and multiculturalism. Research recently published in the main newspaper Helsingin Sanomat shows that people are aware of increasing racism, yet it seems that many do not recognize the racism underlying their own beliefs (14% admit to racist attitudes yet a whopping 29% agree at least partly that certain races do not fit into modern societies). Meanwhile Finland continues to have extremely low refugee quota and minimal immigration compared to most European nations.

Yet not many voices have been raised in the field of contemporary art here in Helsinki. In anticipation of the election, a large cross-disciplinary festival, Rappiotaide (“degenerate art”), and the Fake Finn Festival of experimental live art gathered a multitude of critical voices this spring. Since then the debate has been mainly in the hands of individual artists who have tackled issues of nationalism and multiculturalism for some time already, such as Kalle Hamm and Dzamil Kamanger, Minna Henriksson and Sezgin Boynik, Pekka Niskanen, and Ykon group, to name but a few.

Institutions may not be able to react with the same speed, yet the anti-immigration climate has been felt for some time now. The Photography Museum did act swiftly in response to the election, when it focused the profile of its project space on multiculturalism for the year 2012. The opening of the large recurring international exhibition ARS 2011 at the Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum coincided with the election and thus gained unanticipated political resonance with its focus on Africa. It offered myriad perspectives on the vast continent with an emphasis on the interwoven historical and contemporary migrations. Take, for example, the intense stare of the young man in Ghana amidst the landscape of burning electronic waste from the West in Pieter Hugo’s photographs and videos: Seen in this context the work echoed a famous Finnish national romantic painting of poor peasants burn-clearing. Viewers were thrown between the unequal distribution of global wealth today and Nordic post-colonial myths.

The haunting encounter may well deepen the understanding of our own implication in global economy and mobility. Yet why did this, or the topical discussions organised alongside the exhibition, not enter a wider public debate? Why is it that art here rarely does?

Kiasma’s URB11 festival, Dublin 2
Kiasma’s URB11 festival, Dublin 2

The most visible of the recent art projects addressing the immigration debate broke out of the limitations of the museum walls. The weekend-long live game Dublin 2, part of Kiasma’s URB11 festival programme in August, staged a refugee camp at the heart of Helsinki, next to a busy shopping mall. It allowed the participants and passers-by to deal with the day-to-day struggles of asylum seekers through role-play. The unease caused by the privilege of play laid bare the problems of information and identification both in activism and in art.

The game touched some of the same raw nerves as the emergence of Romanian Roma beggars on the streets in Helsinki during the past few years. This has led to an outcry and calls for a ban on begging in the city. It has also reinforced preconceptions against the Finnish Romas. Of the minority groups the Roma are, according to the above-mentioned study, facing the most negative attitudes. In October, Helsinki International Artist Programme (HIAP) presented a project by the Serbian artist Vladan Jeremic, who has researched the topic across Europe and thus offered a wider perspective beyond the specificities of the local case. In a two-day seminar at the Ateneum Art Museum, Jeremic brought together policy makers, artists and activists to discuss not only the severe human rights issues concerning the Roma, but also innovative solutions for the problems facing all migrant workers in need of temporary social housing.

Kiasma’s URB11 festival, Dublin 2

The project by Jeremic emphasises how the question of Romas not merely concerns ethnicity but also reflects changes in contemporary global economic and political conditions. Art and its institutions are not untouched by these challenges, as was made clear by two lively public debates that coincided a couple of years ago: One had to do with the legal cases of a Russian and an Egyptian grandmother being sent back to their home countries despite the fact that their children lived in Finland and wished to take care of them here. According to Finnish law, grandparents are not part of the immediate family unit. This is in stark contrast to, for example, Mustafa-Carlo’s family portrait. The other case began to unfold, but quickly lost its poignancy, as an international applicant to the position of the museum director at Kiasma questioned the relevance of the museum in a newspaper interview. He did not stand a chance of getting a job interview since, according to the legislation, the director has to speak both of the nation’s official languages, Finnish and Swedish.

These two cases are interwoven in the paradoxical coexistence of the desire for internationalisation (in the arts and business alike) and the anxiety over multiculturalisation. This contradiction has been tangible also in the one-way model of the art export policies. Finnish artists are well supported to travel, but more in-depth and complex modes of exchange are needed, together with the recognition of the increasing multicultural presence in the arts and in the society at large. Otherwise the arts can hardly rise up to the challenge of the Finns.

Eero Järnefelt, Under the Yoke (Burning the brushwood), 1893
Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery, Central Art Archives / Hannu Aaltonen

Leave a comment

Filed under activism, art exhibitions, contemporary art, critical thought, immigration, racism, nationalism, fascism

“Without Limits”: “Anti-Putin” Installation Censored at Petersburg Contemporary Art Forum

In the contemporary cultural landscape panorama [sic], when conventional forms and aspects of art coexist with completely new art practices, the priorities get diametrically split [sic] and often impervious to each other [sic]. Meanwhile, we affirm the possibility to [sic] work out mutually acceptable and clear criteria in the evaluation of both a [sic] whole process and individual events in arts [sic].

Art & Reality Annual International Forum, “About the Forum”

_____

www.openspace.ru
Exhibition “Without Limits” Had Its Limits
November 30, 2011

“The Stars Speak,” an interactive installation by artist Vasily Klenov presented at the exhibition “Without Limits” as part of the parallel program of the first Art & Reality Annual International Forum, was censored on November 26 and removed from the exhibition hall along with its creator after Klenov refused to remove from the installation words insulting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that a visitor had typed in.

As stated on its official site, the Art & Reality Forum was organized by the Petr Konchalovsky Foundation “to discuss the burning issues in the world of fine arts, its imaginative ideas, practices, institutions, social functioning patterns, experiments, including the most radical ones.”

The forum, which took place in the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library November 25–27, was attended by Russian and foreign artists, critics, art historians, experts, gallerists, and patrons. Its theme was contemporary art criticism.

The first exhibition of the “Without Limits” project took place as part of the forum. It featured pieces by young artists and students working in a wide variety of genres and tendencies. According to organizers, the experimental convergence of different formats within a single art space would help address the forum’s major objectives — to comprehend the state of contemporary visual art and analyze the potential of modern technologies for the presentation of different kinds of creativity.

The exhibition included “The Stars Speak,” an interactive installation by Vasily Klenov, a student at the Rodchenko Moscow School of Photography and Multimedia. The installation contained images of Russian stars — Maxim Galkin, Filipp Kirkorov, Andrei Makarevich, and Andrei Malakhov — alongside a display panel in the shape of comic-strip speech balloons. Visitors could type a message in these balloons using a special keyboard.

After one visitor typed in the phrase, “Putin must be castrated, just as he castrated democracy,” exhibition organizers demanded that the message defaming the prime minister be deleted. However, Vasily Klenov refused, explaining that, first, it was technically impossible, and second, that the idea of the installation had been precisely to give viewers the opportunity to freely express their thoughts.

The artist and his work were then quickly expelled from the exhibition.

Forum organizers did their best to hush up the scandal. When one of the artists participating in the exhibition, Sofia Gavrilova, tried to publicly announce what had happened, her microphone was turned off, and the live broadcast of the proceedings was preempted by a splash screen featuring the forum’s logo. Organizers explained all this as the result of technical difficulties and continued the forum.

Source: Fontanka.Ru
_____
Art & Reality Annual International Forum Advisory Board: Alexander Zhukov, Vice Prime Minister of Russia; Alexander Avdeev, Minister of Culture of Russia; Vladimir Kozhin, Head of the Presidential Property Management Department; Andrei Konchalovsky, Chairman of Council of Petr Konchalovsky Foundation; Nikita Mikhalkov, Со-Founder of Petr Konchalovsky Foundation; Alexey Miller, Chairman of Council of ОАО Gazprom.

Leave a comment

Filed under art exhibitions, censorship, contemporary art, Russian society

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under art exhibitions, contemporary art

Free Matvei Krylov!

Water Stunt May Earn 2 Years in Jail
01 November 2011
Alexey Eremenko
The Moscow Times

An opposition activist faces two years in jail for splashing water in the face of a prosecutor who jailed his comrades and allegedly threatened to kill him, the Agora rights group said Monday.

Dmitry Putenikhin, a member of The Other Russia, attacked Alexei Smirnov outside Moscow’s Tverskoi District Court on Friday shortly after it jailed five people, including three fellow activists, for participating in Manezh Square rioting last December.

The verdict has raised eyebrows because the riots were racially charged, while The Other Russia is not a nationalist group. Critics say the authorities chose the organization as a scapegoat.

Putenikhin, also known under the alias Matvei Krylov, did not flee after the attack, explaining to journalists that his actions were “improvised.” A video released by RIA-Novosti showed police brutally detaining him and three other people minutes after the attack.

Putenikhin, who remains in detention, was initially charged with petty hooliganism, but over the weekend, police reclassified the charge to threatening an official on duty.

Police acted on a complaint by Smirnov, who said Putenikhin shouted “death to prosecutors” when splashing the water on him, Interfax reported, citing an Other Russia spokesman.

Putenikhin’s lawyer, Svetlana Sidorkina, said her client never threatened Smirnov, only telling him “we won’t forget, we won’t forgive,” which does not qualify as a death threat, Agora said in a statement.

The video of the incident shed no light on the matter because it included neither statement. No date for a court hearing had been set Monday.

Nationalists rallied on Manezh Square in December to protest an allegedly botched probe into the death of a football fan, killed in a brawl with Dagestani natives, six of whom were jailed last week.

The twin rulings in the Dagestani and Other Russia trials were widely seen as a means to placate nationalists ahead of their Russian March rally on Nov. 4. City authorities have sanctioned the event to take place in the suburb of Lyublino, but a co-organizer told Interfax on Monday that the maximum number of participants has now been ordered slashed from 10,000 to 3,000.

______

Matvei’s numerous comrades, friends, colleagues, and admirers have organized a vigorous public campaign for his release. The campaign’s virtual headquarters is the web site http://plennik.org/ru/.

There you’ll find information (in Russian) about Matvei’s case, his biography, and suggestions on how to help him gain release from police custody, fund his legal defense, and publicize his story.

If you would like to join the campaign by organizing solidarity actions in your own country or city, or want to know how best you can help Matvei and the campaign from outside Russia, please write to: plennik.org@gmail.com.

Campaigners have already help a number of events and protest rallies in Matvei’s defense and more are scheduled for the coming days, including a rally/concert at 2:00 p.m. on November 27 on Chistye Prudy in central Moscow:

and a group art show at 5:00  p.m. on November 26 at the Zverevsky Center in Moscow (Metro station Baumanskaya; ul. Novoryazanskaya, 29):

Matvei has played a key role in reviving and organizing the sixties tradition of open-air poetry readings at the Mayakovsky monument in central Moscow, as reflected in this article from last year:

Poets rediscover Moscow platform to oppose leaders
AFP, MOSCOW
Fri, Sep 17, 2010

Matvei Krylov perched on a barricade in a central Moscow square and began reciting a poem by a ­Soviet-era dissident as a rag-tag audience, from goths to a headscarfed pensioner, gathered to listen.

Every month a group of left-wing activists and amateur poets gathers to riff on Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and problems such as the deadly August forest fires in a rare outlet for criticism of the Russian authorities.

The readings take place on Triumfalnaya Ploshchad, also the scene of regular attempts to hold unsanctioned protests on the 31st day of the month, to demand constitutional rights, which are roughly put down by riot police.

Police have also tried to stop the poetry readings and asked that they avoid swearing or mentioning politics, organizers said.

Under the shadow of an immense statue of the great Soviet poet of the 1920s, Vladimir Mayakovsky, famous for his explosive rhymes, the readings recall the dissident poetry of the 1960s that rattled the Communist authorities.

“The police have an order to put a stop to any politics. They warn us not to talk about Putin,” said poet and left-wing activist Vladimir Koverdyayev, a member of the banned National Bolshevik party.

“Last time they tried to detain us, we had to explain for a long time that it’s not political,” said Krylov, a member of the same party. “For them, any gathering of people is a meeting, a protest. It’s extremists, potential enemies.”

At the latest reading, around 50 people, most in their 20s, gathered on a drizzly evening. Some drank cognac and ate chocolate as poets stepped up with typed pages to an improvised oil drum rostrum.

Two curious policemen looked on grinning. One asked a journalist how long the readings would last, but both drifted off after listening to a few lines.

Despite the ban, references to Putin and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev abounded.

Koverdyayev, 36, read a poem that ridiculed the police rules.

“It’s not allowed, but I don’t give a fuck/ I mean I don’t give a toss,” he read.

“It’s high time for Dima and Vova to be sent for a rest,” he said, using the nicknames for Medvedev and Putin.

Another poet, Vladislav Tushnin, mocked Putin’s televised appearances during last month’s forest fires.

“Putin takes a ride on a speed boat/ He and [emergency minister Sergei] Shoigu are raking in the dough/ We’re sick of this, Putin/ We have had enough of this television circus,” he read.

Arseny Molchanov read a protest poem called Country — and almost all the audience joined in with a word perfect recitation.

“Turn on rag-doll Channel One/ Turn it on for even a minute/ The premier says the conveyor lines are working great/ The minister says everything is cool in the army,” he said.

“And my country … she only hears the great songs of Dima Bilan/ She breathes through the scars of Kursk, Nord-Ost, Chechnya and Beslan,” he said, juxtaposing the Eurovision song winner with Russia’s worst modern tragedies.

Some of the poetry is doggerel, but some is powerful. Molchanov is the best known figure, a kind of rock ’n’ roll poet who regularly performs his poetry with musicians at Moscow clubs.

Last month the readings were visited by British poet Alan Brownjohn.

Koverdyayev and Krylov both have plenty of experience of political combat.

Boyish-looking with floppy hair, Krylov risks jail if he gets in trouble with the police since he is serving a suspended sentence for breaking into the foreign ministry’s lobby last year in an attempted protest.

Koverdyayev, dressed smartly and carrying a leather case, leads the National Bolsheviks in the Moscow region. He was briefly held in a psychiatric hospital in 2008 after he was detained on drugs charges. He was later pronounced sane and fined for drugs possession.

Krylov opened the latest reading with a poem by a Soviet dissident who died in a prison camp, Yury Galanskov.

“Beaten to the ground, I spit on your iron city, packed with money and dirt,” Krylov shouted on the square, which has been barricaded off by the Moscow city authorities in an apparent move to deter protests.

Titled the Human Manifesto, the poem became the unofficial anthem of poetry readings on the same spot during the Khrushchev-era thaw. Galanskov and other dissidents including Vladimir Bukovsky were the initiators.

Those readings came to an abrupt end in 1961 when the authorities cracked down on the poets and brought five of them to trial. The new generation of poetry readers sees parallels.

“I think it is approximately the same time,” Koverdyayev said. “People aren’t able to express their opinion openly. People are uniting.”

Watching the poetry reading was a 70-year-old math teacher, who gave her name as Lyubov Alexeyevna, who said she remembered the Soviet-era gatherings although she never went along herself.

But she traveled from a suburb for this event after hearing about it on the Echo of Moscow radio.

“I’m very worried about what is going on in our country,” she said, citing plans to build a highway through forest near Moscow and rising food prices.

“It’s really great. I see they have bright faces, not beaten down,” she said. “I did not expect that so many young people would come along. Now they have revived the readings, good for them.”

______

Finally, here is a short video about Matvei’s life and case (in Russian):

2 Comments

Filed under activism, art exhibitions, film and video, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, protests, Russian society