Tag Archives: Dmitry Vilensky

Breaking the Silence on the Art World: ArtLeaks Gazette Launch @ Brecht Forum (May 4th, NYC)

art-leaks.org

546092_490420224358441_679844155_nCredit: Zampa di Leone

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

Gazette Editors: Corina L. ApostolVladan Jeremić, Vlad Morariu, David Riff & Dmitry Vilensky

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.

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Leningrad’s Perestroika: Crosscurrents in Photography, Video, and Music (Zimmerli Art Museum)

www.zimmerlimuseum.rutgers.edu

Leningrad’s Perestroika: Crosscurrents in Photography, Video, and Music

Ludmila Fedorenko: Untitled, 1989
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.

Related Programs
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

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developingroom.com

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.

Organized by Corina Apostol, this event is co-sponsored by the Zimmerli Art Museum and the Developing Room.

For more information:
http://www.chtodelat.org
http://www.zimmerlimuseum.rutgers.edu

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Chto Delat, To Negate Negation (Wrocław)

www.bwa.wroc.pl


 Nikolay Oleynikov, mural at the show Chto Delat, The Urgent Need to Struggle, ICA, London, 2010. Photo  courtesy of Chto Delat

CHTO DELAT
To Negate Negation
April 29–June 16, 2013

April 29, 2013 (Monday):
5 p.m. – Discussion (in English) with Chto Delat (Dmitry Vilensky, Olga Egorova, Nikolay Oleynikov), Jan Sowa, and Jakub Szreder

7 pm. – exhibition opening 
Awangarda Gallery (Wita Stwosza Street, 32, Wrocław)

Curators: Alicja Klimczak-Dobrzaniecka and Patrycja Sikora

Download press materials here


Chto Delat, The Russian Woods. Installation at the show Lessons of Dis-Consent, Stadliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, 2011. Photo courtesy of Chto Delat

TO NEGATE NEGATION

Philosopher Georg Lukács once said that orthodox Marxists should not believe in this or that thesis, nor in the exegesis of a sacred book. On the contrary, orthodoxy refers exclusively to method. By method, Lukács meant dialectics as a means of analyzing and representing the whole of society as a totality of struggling contradictions.

To speak about dialectics makes particular sense at BWA Wrocław. Its architecture confronts the ruin of an old palace with a new modernist intervention, facing us with obvious conflicts between the classics and modernism, between the old functions of exclusive noble privacy and the modern public institution. The current exhibition responds to this living contradiction by presenting a survey of many old and newer Chto Delat projects in a specially developed dialectical display whose main point is to “negate the negation.”

All graduates of socialist schools and universities will remember this negation of negation as the third principle of dialectics, culled from Friedrich Engels’ Dialectics of Nature. What could this principle mean in art today? Confronted with a simple dumbly positive postulate of an artwork, the viewer reacts with a very basic question: why should I care? It looks like the artists are trying to brainwash me but for what reason? I won’t believe it, I’m not that simple; the characters are so conditional, it must be a Brechtian device. Why are they constructed in such a way? And why do they still give me aesthetic pleasure? Perhaps there is something beyond this simplicity? It is with such questions that the negation of negation begins.

We invite the visitor to a tour through a show where art works only communicate by calling one another into question, making complex things simple and simple things complex, as the work of negativity turns into the play of its own negation. But make no mistake. Art is never just a self-referential game. It always suggests further implementations and resolutions outside the gallery space in real life. As Mao once wittily remarked, “Theory (read also art) is the negation of practice while the opposite of practice is of course non-practice. In turn, only when theory is further negated in practical activity is a higher development of man’s knowledge of the world achieved.”

Dmitry Vilensky and David Riff (Chto Delat)

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The Dialetical Play of Opposite: About Chto Delat in the Institutional Framework

Chto Delat have embarked on a quest for a currently attractive, emancipatory potential of leftist ideas. Chto Delat strongly criticize the reality of contemporary political and social life in Russia, art institutions, and Western capitalism. Chto Delat flourish in the international institutional art market, operating in the convenient framework of the capitalist system. Chto Delat embody the dream of engaged Russian art in the Putin era, dreamed of by curators from the West. At the same time they rarely show up in the official salons in Russia. Each of the above statements is true: this is a conclusion one can draw upon a close inspection of the exhibition in Wroclaw, reading the numerous descriptions, theoretical and polemical texts, or studying the performances and documentation of actions published on the collective’s website.

To Negate Negation is a unique exhibition, as it is the first presentation of contemporary Russian art in the Wrocław gallery Awangarda after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is also the first exhibition of the group Chto Delat in Poland, presenting the whole panorama of its activity. As part of the show, we will find all themes characteristic of the artistic practice of Chto Delat, including, in particular, references to the Hegelian and Marxist dialectical struggle of opposites, inevitably driving social change. The title To Negate Negation already contains direct references to the terminology originally borrowed from the idealist dialectic of classical German philosophy, and specifically to one of the three universal laws formulated by Hegel’s dialectic – negation of the negation. In turn, individual projects of the collective shown in the exhibition relate to the dialectical principle of testing the reality which involves the disclosure of its existing contradictions, the study of the clash of these contradictions and the resulting changes, that is, in short, to the principle underlying the methodology of Marxism.

At the core of the exhibition lie projects commenting on the current situation, social and political events in various countries (Russia, Serbia, the Netherlands), petrified by allegorical methods and visualized primarily in film productions, the so-called Songspiels. The actors embody various sections of the society, represent various (age, professional, political) groups and their aspirations, interests and visions, as well as the existing opposition between them, building tension and conflict. Both these projects and other documentary and para-documentary recordings reveal interest in “classic” leftist work – the epic theatre of Brecht and Godard’s New Wave cinema. Apart from film showings, the arsenal of devices employed by Chto Delat consists of a few simple methods. Institutional space, annexed by the group in various parts of the world, is usually organized in a similar manner – by means of simple elements of stage design, reminiscent of home-made banners or mock-ups, as well as prints, murals, flags, posters and publications. These elements are often accompanied by on-site actions, meetings and discussions. Each of these devices is invariably associated with the language of propaganda and agitation, a message addressed to the widest possible audience. In each case, an institution turns into such a propaganda mouthpiece, becoming at the same time the (knowing) object of the collective’s genuine contempt. Yet the collective declares the aim of protecting the institution against the “economization, and subordination to the populist logic of the culture industry,” only to say: “That is why we believe that right now it would be wrong to refuse to work in any way with cultural and academic institutions despite the fact that the majority of these institutions throughout the world are engaged in the flagrant propaganda of commodity fetishism and servile knowledge. The political propaganda of all other forms of human vocation either provokes the system’s harsh rejection or the system co-opts it into its spectacle. At the same time, however, the system is not homogeneous – it is greedy, stupid, and dependent. Today, this leaves us room to use these institutions to advance and promote our knowledge. We can bring this knowledge to a wide audience without succumbing to its distortion.” Institutions inviting Chto Delat decide to play this game. This is the case this time as well. In Wroclaw, the game with the institution takes on another dimension – the game with the potential inherent in the relationship with the audience and with the surrounding reality. Thanks to Chto Delat the monumental windows of the Awangarda Gallery, overlooking a busy street, become stands. The gallery turns into the audience, and the street turns into a performance. There is a clear reversal of the viewer-institution relationship, ascribed to the building by the very architectural device of unveiling and glazing the top coat of the facade of the historic palace ruined during WWII – and, in this way, opening up its institutional interior to constant public view. The metaphor of game and the play of opposing forces present inside and beyond the institutional framework does not merely serve the purpose of turning the set relationship between an art gallery and the external world inside out, but rather of evoking a critical reflection on the observed reality, seen as a potential that can be offered to the viewer.

Patrycja Sikora

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CHTO DELAT (WHAT IS TO BE DONE)?

What is Chto Delat?

The Russian group Chto Delat is a platform that unites representatives of various areas of artistic and intellectual life: artists, philosophers, writers, activists, and social scientists. The group is guided by the principles of collectivism and self-realization. As described by its members, the core of the group is formed by a team of coordinators who cooperate closely with grassroots workgroups that share the principles of internationalism, feminism, and equality. Their activity represents the entire platform and provides a common context for interpreting their projects. Permanent activists of the collective include: Olga Egorova aka Tsaplya (artist, Petersburg), Artemy Magun (philosopher, Petersburg), Nikolay Oleynikov (artist, Moscow), Natalia Pershina aka Gluklya (artist, Petersburg), Alexei Penzin (philosopher, Moscow), David Riff (art critic, Moscow), Alexander Skidan (poet, critic, Petersburg), Oxana Timofeeva (philosopher, Moscow), Dmitri Vilensky (artist, Petersburg), and Nina Gasteva (choreographer).

Where did they come from?

Chto Delat was established on May 24, 2003, in the action “The Refoundation of Petersburg,” during which a group of artists, architects, and critics symbolically founded a new city centre on the city’s outskirts. Inspired by the pompous celebrations of the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg, the event was seen by the police as a disruption of the ceremony. Shortly afterwards, still unnamed, the group began to publish the newspaper Chto Delat, targeting the international audience. The name of the newspaper, and later of the collective, was borrowed from Nikolai Chernyshevsky (1828–1889), a philosopher, journalist, writer, and socialist, who in 1863 published the novel Chto Delat, one of the creative harbingers of the Russian Revolution. In 1902, Vladimir Lenin referred to the novel in his pamphlet bearing the same title, in which he presented a new look on the problems of self-organization of work groups. In this context, the artists and intellectuals working in the collective see themselves, by way of analogy, as a self-organizing group of “cultural workers.”

What do they do?

Chto Delat actions integrate different fields of intellectual activity: visual arts, literature, journalism, film, theatre, philosophy, and political thought. Created with a variety of tools, their work is a collective action, which means that it has a common context and stems from a deep theoretical reflection. The group realises its principles issuing a newspaper, creating movies, theatre, plays, installations, prints, murals, performing actions.

Program

Chto Delat are preoccupied with the issue of cultural autonomy, considered from the point of view of the artists who can’t perform in the post-Soviet Russia and create outside the mainstream, but also who are active in Europe. The group expresses its concern about art, today often perceived as a commodity or an element supposed to provide entertainment to the audience, a part of a system in which museums and galleries are instruments of power having monopolised presentation of art, while they should be institutions that help art search for truth about the world. The essence of art is to create the viewer’s awareness, to develop forms of critical perception of reality, and to be a tool for independent functioning in the world. This is a public activity, so that no authorities or institutions should have a monopoly over its “distribution.” In their projects Chto Delat discuss how culture functions in the machinery of western and post-Soviet capitalism, showing the culture’s dependence on the money, state, and ideology. Thus the emancipation of art guarantees human emancipation as such, and the role of artists and intellectuals is to expose the current situation and try to define the optimal conditions for the development of free creativity. For them a way to achieve these goals is to return to the original ideas of ​​the Left and fulfil them in a fresh combination of actions from the sphere of art, radical thought and politics.

Where do they work?

Defying the Russian cultural establishment and politics in general, the group operates outside the mainstream of the art world at home, on its outskirts. At the same time, Chto Delat is a very active group, constantly present and performing in the countries of Western Europe, the USA, or Australia. However, the “activity” and “existence” of the group can and should also be seen in a non-material way. Theoretical work, publishing an online newspaper, online meetings and lectures are just as important as the institutional dimension of their activity. The group’s projects have been shown in numerous group and individual exhibitions, including Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki (2004), Museum of the History of St. Petersburg (2004), Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel (2005), Centre for Contemporary Art in Moscow (2006), the 3rd Prague Biennale (2007), 11th Istanbul Biennial (2009), the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London (2010), the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (2011), Smart Project Space, Amsterdam (2011), Gallery 21, St. Petersburg (2012). The collective’s works are exhibited in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade, National Museum Reina Sofia in Madrid, Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, the Library of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Chto Delat has participated in many conferences, seminars, open discussions, meetings, lectures, e.g., Documenta 12 in Kassel (2007),  Working Title: Archives at the Lodz Museum of Art (2009), and Former West in Berlin (2010, 2012).

Alicja Klimczak-Dobrzaniecka

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Disobedience Archive (The Republic), Castello di Rivoli


april11_casetelloderivoli_img.jpg

Disobedience Archive (The Republic), 2005–ongoing. Installation view, Céline Condorelli, “The Parliament,” 2012. Photo courtesy Bildmuseet, Umeå, and Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Turin.

Disobedience Archive (The Republic)
April 23–June 30, 2013

Press preview: Tuesday April 16, 2013, 11am
Frigoriferi Milanesi – Open Care
Via Piranesi 10
Milan

Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art
Opening: April 22, 2013 at 7pm
Piazza Mafalda di Savoia
10098 Rivoli (Turin), Italy

www.castellodirivoli.org
www.castellodirivoli.tv

Curator: Marco Scotini

After Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven), Nottingham Contemporary, Raven Row (London), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Boston) and Bildmuseet (Umeå), Disobedience Archive is presented at Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea within a format especially planned for the Museum.

The curatorial project dates from 2005, when Marco Scotini planned a travelling exhibition of videos, graphic materials and ephemera whilst in Berlin. The exhibition-archive explores the links between contemporary art practices, cinema, tactile media and political activism. Planned as a heterogeneous, evolving archive of video images, the project aims to be a ‘user’s guide’ to four decades of social disobedience seen through history and geography: from the revolt in Italy in 1977 to the global protests before and after Seattle and on to the current insurrections in the Middle East and Arab world. From the historic videotapes of Alberto Grifi to the films of Harun Farocki, from the performances of the American Critical Art Ensemble to those of the Russian collective Chto Delat, and from the investigations of Hito Steyerl to those of Eyal Sivan, the Disobedience archive has over the years gathered hundreds of documentary elements.

The exhibition, which will be hosted in the rooms of the third floor in the Castello di Rivoli, aims to offer a wide-ranging synthesis of the earlier editions. With the new title of Disobedience Archive (The Republic), the exhibition will include the production of a large Parliament-shaped structure and the publication of “La Costituzione” (The Constitution) as a concluding phase to the entire project. The archive takes place in The Parliament by Céline Condorelli (b. 1974), with a contribution by Martino Gamper (b. 1971), while the wall paintings accompanying it are by Mexican artist Erick Beltran (b. 1972). Aside from The Parliament, two rooms serve as thematic antechambers: the first, dedicated to the 1970s in Italy, amongst others, presents works by Joseph Beuys, Mario Merz, Gianfranco Baruchello, Laboratorio di Comunicazione Militante, Enzo Mari, Nanni Balestrini and Living Theatre beside documents by Carla Accardi, Carla Lonzi and Felix Guattari; the second, which considers the first decade of the 21st century, houses works by Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas, Superflex, Chto Delat, Journal of Aesthetics & Protest, Oliver Ressler, Arseniy Zhilyaev, Critical Art Ensemble, Rene Gabri and Ayreen Anastas, among others. Technical instruments, props and published materials produced by the antagonist culture of those years are also displayed in these two rooms.

Disobedience Archive (The Republic) is a work in progress reflecting on the various events as they unfolded, in which form and content vary with each venue. In this sense, the exhibition constitutes a sort of atlas of the different contemporary antagonist tactics: from direct action to counter-information, from constituent practices to forms of bio-resistance, which emerged after the end of modernism, inaugurating new methods of being, saying and doing. The archive is divided into nine sections: “1977 The Italian Exit,” “Protesting Capitalist Globalization,” “Reclaim the Streets,” “Bioresistence and Society of Control,” “Argentina Fabrica Social,” “Disobedience East,” “Disobedience University,” “The Arab Dissent” and “Gender Politics,” which joins the other sections for the Castello di Rivoli exhibition.

The archive includes materials by 16 beaver, Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée (AAA), Mitra Azar, Gianfranco Baruchello, Petra Bauer, Pauline Boudry, Brigitta Kuster and Renate Korenz, Bernadette Corporation, Black Audio Film Collective, Ursula Biemann, Collettivo femminista di cinema, Copenhagen Free University, Critical Art Ensemble, Dodo Brothers, Marcelo Expósito, Harun Farocki and Andrei Ujica, Rene Gabri and Ayreen Anastas, Grupo de Arte Callejero, Etcétera, Alberto Grifi, Ashley Hunt, Kanal B, Khaled Jarrar, John Jordan and Isabelle Fremeaux, Laboratorio di Comunicazione Militante, Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson, Angela Melitopoulos, Mosireen, Carlos Motta, Non Governamental Control Commission, Wael Noureddine, Margit Czencki/Park Fiction, R.E.P. Group, Oliver Ressler and Zanny Begg, Joanne Richardson, Roy Samaha, Eyal Sivan, Hito Steyerl, The Department of Space and Land Reclamation, Mariette Schiltz and Bert Theis, Ultra-red, Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas, Trampolin House (Morten Goll and Tone O. Nielsen), Dmitry Vilensky and Chto Delat, James Wentzy.

The exhibition has been realised thanks to the collaboration of Open Care Servizi per l’Arte, Milan and NABA Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, Milan together with the Biennio di Arti Visive e Studi Curatoriali.

Media Partner: La Stampa, Turin

Press Office – Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea
Silvano Bertalot – Manuela Vasco
T +39 011 9565209 – 211
C +39 33 87865367
press@castellodirivoli.orgs.bertalot@castellodirivoli.org

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Where Has Communism Gone? A Learning Play (Open Call from Chto Delat)

Where Has Communism Gone? Open Call for Learning Play

POSTER COM GONE

OPEN CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS

Where Has Communism Gone?, a Learning Play initiated by Chto Delat as part of FORMER WEST: Documents, Constellations, Prospects (Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin).

The process takes place between March 16 and March 23, 2013. You are invited to participate in a four-day seminar led by the artist collective Chto Delat, and develop and perform the collective learning play Where Has Communism Gone? as part of  the main program of FORMER WEST: Documents, Constellations, Prospects, at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin from 18–24 March 2013.

Using playwright and director Bertolt Brecht’s model of the learning play, Chto Delat invite 25 participants to collectively develop an educational didactic performance. Centered on the question “where has communism gone?” participants are asked to work on and articulate their own positions throughout the process of acquiring and advocating for their attitudes towards this theme. The seminar consists of four subsequent sessions of collective discussions-rehearsals, which culminate in the staging of a Brechtian learning play on Thursday, March 21, at 21:24.

Dates 

Seminar: Saturday, March 16 & Sunday, March 17, 12:00–19:00 
Tuesday, March 19, and Wednesday, March 20, 19:00–23:00
Rehearsal: Thursday, March 21, starting at 10:00
Learning Play: Thursday, March 21, 21:24

Involvement is limited to 25 participants. Participants must commit to full attendance for all five days’ activities, including seminar, rehearsal, and the staging of the learning play. Each participant receives an honorarium of 150 euros and a week-long pass for FORMER WEST: Documents, Constellations, Prospects.

In order to participate, please send a motivational statement to Dmitry Vilensky dmvilen@gmail.com and Annika Kuhlmann annika.kuhlmann@hkw.de. Annika can respond to all organizational questions, and can also be reached by phone at +49 30 39787 224.

*** The application deadline is Sunday, March 10, 2013 ***

Where Has Communism Gone?

Where has communism gone? This question refers, firstly, to Russian revolutionary writer Andrei Platonov. The hero of his novel Chevengur suddenly awakes in the middle of the night after a dream asking where socialism is, searching for it as if it were an object, a thing which supposedly belongs to him. Following the line of thought in this passage, socialism or communism is communicated as an object of desire, and this kind of desire, as Marxist political theorist Fredric Jameson says, has not yet found its Sigmund Freud or Jacques Lacan. By posing the question about communism, we aim to explore the nature of this political desire, which, in spite of the demise of what is called “real socialism” or “communist regimes,” is still persistent, at least in the field of contemporary theory and art.

We are used to the reality principle of one-dimensional liberal propaganda, according to which nothing can be better than the present state of things, which in fact means the neoliberal economy accompanied by the rhetoric of human rights and legal democracy. They say that communism was a utopian project that ended in disaster, with violence and totalitarianism, and the only thing we have left to do is to forget all hope for a better future for society and focus on our individual lives, to enjoy this eternal present, to use our possibilities and skills to succeed in working our way up a pyramid built of money, trampling the heads of others as we climb.

However, today, after decades of excessive ideological overproduction of the monstrosity of communism, a general anti-communist phobia has ended in a new disappointment. The liberal utopia, based on the notion of free individuals freely operating in a free market, was demolished by a global economic, political, and ecological crisis. From this perspective, all the debates about communism became valuable and actual again, not only with communism as a valuable experience from the past, but also as an alternative for the future.

The only problem is nobody really takes it seriously.

Neoliberal institutions easily give their money to any kind of creative and sophisticated critic of the present, taking for granted that all these debates are based on market exchange, and that all the ideas discussed have their own nominal values. The ghost of communism still wanders around, and to transform it into a commodity form seems a good way to finally get rid of it. Conferences and artistic events dedicated to the idea of communism go on one after another, speakers are paid or not paid, advertisement production machines function well, and the globe turns round as before.

But beyond this exhausting machinery of actualization and commodification, we still have as a potentiality this totally new desire of communism, the desire which cannot help but be shared, since it keeps in itself the “commons” of communism, the claim for togetherness, so ambiguous and problematic within the human species. This claim cannot be privatized, calculated, and capitalized since it exists not inside individuals, but between them, between us, and can be experienced in our attempts to construct this space between, to expose ourselves inside this “commons” and teach ourselves to produce it out of what we have as social beings.

We invite you to think, discuss, and live through these issues together at our seminar and try to find a form of representation for our debate.

—Chto Delat

During this seminar the platform is represented by Olga Egorova (Tsaplya), Nina Gasteva, Artemy Magun, Alexei Penzin, Natalya Pershina, David Riff, Oxana Timofeeva, Alexander Skidan, and Dmitry Vilensky.

About FORMER WEST: Documents, Constellations, Prospects

FORMER WEST: Documents, Constellations, Prospects consists of artworks, talks, discussions, rehearsals, and performances in various constellations of documents and prospects that offer a multitude of encounters with the public for negotiating the way of the world from 1989 to today, and thinking beyond. The seven-day period is guided by five currents that feature contemporary negotiations on Art Production, Infrastructure, and Insurgent Cosmopolitanism, with Dissident Knowledges contributions offering dynamic interventions into the ongoing program with artworks, performances, and statements. Finally, Learning Place operates alongside the full program involving students in workshops and inviting them to engage in the week of discussions.

Conceptualized by Maria Hlavajova and Kathrin Rhomberg in collaboration with Boris Buden, Boris Groys, Ranjit Hoskote, Katrin Klingan, and Irit Rogoff. FORMER WEST: Documents, Constellations, Prospects is a joint project by Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin and BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht.

For the full program, complete list of contributors, and live streaming, as well as full project archive, please visit the FORMER WEST Digital Platform at www.formerwest.org.

FORMER WEST (2008–2014) is a long-term research, education, exhibition, and publication project initiated by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht and aimed at a critical reinterpretation of post-1989, post-Cold War histories around an artistic imaginary of “formerness,” countering the persistent hegemonies of the so-called West within a global context.

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You Don’t Have to Be Leftist to Think Like That (Petersburg)

You Don’t Have to Be Leftist to Think Like That
An Exhibition as a School
A project by Chto Delat
October 29–November 18, 2012

Curators: ТОK Creative Association of Curators

Opening: November 8, 2012 at GEZ-21, Pushkinskaya-10 Art Center, Petersburg

The opening will feature a new concert program by the popular leftist band Arkady Kots. The concert begins at 8:00 p.m.

The project has been made possible with support from the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

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The line “You don’t have to be leftist to think like that” was uttered by a striking worker in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1972 film Tout va bien. Forty years later, it has the same ring as it did then: not as a depoliticizing slogan that abolishes a traditional way of marking political differences, but as a simple statement of the fact that leftist views and convictions have ceased to be a set of hackneyed ideologemes and are, rather, something basic to humanity’s survival.

Chto Delat starts from the notion that art and culture’s educational function are an essential aspect of its production of knowledge and meaning. Unlike other artists, who insist on art’s apolitical nature, Chto Delat has consistently upheld the idea that cultural production is implicated in the current political struggle and that cultural workers must constantly insist on the value of emancipatory politics and counteract culture’s commercialization.

In our exhibition projects we aim to create spaces and situations where audience and artworks engage with each other. In this project we want to turn the process of conceiving and producing an exhibition into a continuous series of workshops, seminars and round tables on art’s role in political development. We are confident of the project’s relevance for the current Russian conjuncture, in which the general public has shown greater interest in issues of political education and the desire to take responsibility for the country’s development. The project aims to equip participants with a set of creative tools for critically analyzing, understanding, liberating and transforming society.

But how can we achieve these aims given the absence of a civil society, at a time when the authorities show a flagrant disregard for both their own basic obligations and the law, thus untying the hands of the most reactionary forces and openly encouraging their violence?

It is a natural reaction to events in our country to come out against the authorities, join in the democratic demands of anti-government forces, and get involved in rallies and protest campaigns. But will anything change by endlessly chanting the mantra “The government has got to go”?

The question arises as to what kind of society can and must replace it. We believe that the most acute issue now is the development of an alternative public space for intellectual and political resistance. Obviously, this space can be generated only by a broad network of self-organized initiatives that require no external hierarchical coordination, because they will be based on the specific solidarity of cooperation.

This network must be recreated everywhere—in everyday life, at work, in the streets, at home. If this model of civil society is unable to achieve a critical mass of participants, superficial transformations of power will not lead to significant real changes. Culture and art have always played an essential role in man’s formation. They are our principal defense from the constant threat of barbarism. It is therefore necessary to fight for their values and oppose all forms of clericalism, bigotry, slavery and outright violence. The authorities understand this all too well and are thus carrying out a directed assault on the very idea of secular, critical and politically committed culture and education. Intellectual and research work, seriously underestimated by the opposition, can and should be a focus of the new mobilization as the unequal confrontation between state and society continues. To make this happen, we need to tackle a number of our own specific problems, which would help us impact the situation and turn it in a direction for which we are prepared to take responsibility.

Based on a real understanding of our circumstances, we first need to articulate our mission in our own workplace—that is, amongst people engaged in the production of culture, education and research.

We should first articulate these tasks and demands for ourselves, without holding out the hope that the current powers that be are in the least capable of carrying them out. On the contrary, we articulate them with a clear understanding that only a decisive change in the political situation can make it possible to begin the ambitious program of cultural transformation without which our society will be thrown backwards for many decades.

We want our project to serve as a platform for generating cooperation and consolidation within the fragmented and as yet apolitical milieu of cultural workers. If we do not do this now, tomorrow it may happen that most basic foundations of contemporary art, culture and education will not only be threatened, but will simply disappear from the map of the places where they had a chance to materialize.

And you don’t have to be leftist at all to think like that and make sure this does not happen.

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The process of constructing the exhibition (from October 29 to November 7) will begin with a seminar entitled “Educational Fresco.” Seminar participants will join seminar leader Nikolay Oleynikov in creating a monumental sculptural and graphic work that in comic-strip form reflects on the dynamics of the political struggle in Russian society.

Sessions of the “Teaching Theater” seminar will be held at the same time. The seminar will build on the experience gained by the Chto Delat theatrical studio and is based on the tradition of Bertolt Brecht’s “learning plays.” During the exhibition run, we will hold a series of meetings, introducing the concept of the “teaching theater” as an essential method for shaping political consciousness and showing the principles of writing a play by dramatizing a single, jointly selected episode from the actual practice of emancipatory struggle. The seminar will be lead by Tsaplya (Olga Egorova), Dmitry Vilensky and Nina Gasteva.

In addition, we have planned a special workshop, led by Gluklya (Natalya Pershina), on the concept of clothing design as a form of the subject’s emergence and its position in society. We will also organize discussions of institutional critique by analyzing the development of contemporary art institutions in St. Petersburg and Russia.

The exhibition will also feature an extensive program of lectures, open discussions and seminars led by well-known artists, curators, performers, philosophers and poets (see the program schedule) who offer a real alternative to Petersburg’s official reactionary cultural policy. Thus, the exhibition space will function as a school where artists and audience will discuss the most pressing issues of contemporary art and its relationship to the development of society and the formation of the individual.

All workshops will be organized around an open call but limited to fifteen to twenty participants.

As part of the project, a digest of the most important texts from past issues of Chto Delat newspaper will be published.

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On the Urgency of Launching the ArtLeaks Gazette (London)

Presentation of the international platform ArtLeaks
On the Urgency of Launching the ArtLeaks Gazette

Wednesday, 7 November 2012
19:00-22:00
Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London

This is part of the 9th Annual Historical Materialism Conference ‘Weighs Like a Nightmare’, London, November 7th-12th, 2012

ArtLeaks is an international platform for cultural workers where instances of abuse, corruption and exploitation are exposed and submitted for public inquiry. ArtLeaks’ mission is to create a space where one could engage directly with actual conditions of cultural work internationally – conditions that affect those working in cultural production as well as those from traditionally creative fields. Furthermore, ArtLeaks is developing in the direction of creating transversal alliances between local activist and cultural workers groups, through which we may collectively tackle repression and inequality.

While building on previous models that emerged in the highly politicized milieus of the 1970s and 1980s, such as the institutional critique practice of left-wing collectives, ArtLeaks seeks to expand the scope of these historical precedents towards international geopolitical engagement. One of the outcomes of ArtLeaks working assemblies and workshops was the establishment of alliances with international groups such as W.A.G.E. (NYC), Occupy Museums (NYC), Arts & Labor (NYC), Haben und Brauchen (Berlin), the Precarious Workers Brigade (London), Carrotworkers’ Collective (London), Critical Practice (London), and The May Congress of Creative Workers (Moscow). It is our strong belief that only an internationally coordinated movement would be able to expose and denounce exploitation and censorship in contemporary culture, and collectively imagine new types of organizational articulations.

For the 2012 Historical Materialism Conference, members of ArtLeaks will present the outcome of their previous working assemblies which took place this year in Berlin, Moscow and Belgrade, and bring up for discussion the urgent need to establish the ArtLeaks Gazette (forthcoming 2013). This regular, online publication aims to be a tool for empowerment in the face of the systemic abuse of cultural workers’ basic labor rights, repression or even blatant censorship, and the growing corporatization of culture that we face today.

After these brief introductions, we will break into four working groups, each focused on a different theme outlined in our Gazette. These will be:

1) Critique of cultural dominance apparatuses

Here we will address methodological issues in analyzing the condition of cultural production and the system that allows for the facile exploitation of the cultural labor force. We will try to relate methodology with concrete case studies of conflicts, exploitation, dissent across various regions of the world, drawing comparisons and providing local context for understanding them.

2) The struggle of narrations

This working group will develop and practice artistic forms of narration which cannot be fully articulated through direct “leaking”. Our focus will be finding new languages for narration of systemic dysfunctions. We expect these elaborations to take different forms of artistic contributions, such as comics, poems, drawings, short stories, librettos, etc.

3) Education and its discontents

The conflicts and struggles in the field of creative education are at the core of determining what kind of subjectivities will shape the culture(s) of future generations. It is important therefore to analyze what is currently at the stake in these specific fields of educational processes and how they are linked with what is happening outside academies and universities. Here we will discuss possible emancipatory approaches to education that are possible today, which resist pressing commercial demands for flexible and “creative” subjectivities. Can we imagine an alternative system of values based of a different meaning of progress?

4) Best practices and useful resources

In this working group we invite people to play out their fantasies of new, just forms of organization of creative life. Developing the tradition of different visionaries of the past we hope will trigger many speculations which might help us collect modest proposals for the future and thus counter the shabby reality of the present. This also includes practices which demonstrate alternative ethical guidelines, and stimulate the creation of a common cultural sphere.

At the end of the working group session, we will present our findings to each other and come together for some final conclusions and future common aims.

Facilitators of the event: Corina L. Apostol, Vlad Morariu

The editorial board for the first issue of the Gazette will consist of Corina L. Apostol, Vladan Jeremić, Vlad Morariu, David Riff and Dmitry Vilensky.

More about the ArtLeaks Gazette: http://art-leaks.org/artleaks-gazette/

More about Historical Materialism: http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/about-us

Thanks to Historical Materialism for hosting us!

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