Tag Archives: Olga Chernysheva

Me-gration (Moscow) // “Conspiracy” (Olga Zhitlina)


A video presentation and roundtable discussion (“How to Work with Migrants? Ethics and the Politics of the Image”)

Olga Chernysheva, Ekaterina Lazareva, Haim Sokol, Olga Zhitlina, and Chto Delat

with Activist Film Studio 

December 18, 2011, 2:00 PM 

Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center

Ul. Zemlyanoy Val, 57, Str. 6

Moscow, Russia, 105120

The participants will present their works dealing with the theme of migration and human rights in today’s Russia, and discuss ethnic and political aspects of their engagement. The title Me-gration contains an intended error, alluding to the pronunciation of the word “migration” common to both native Russian speakers and the country’s multilingual population. It also emphasizes the artists’ personal relation to the issue and migrant status of some of them.

The organizers state:

We artists usually work with images. Should we leave the territory of visual arts and cross into politics? Can we make images become political tools? We do not have much practical experience yet, as Russian art has turned to the theme of migrant rights relatively recently. The artists who have started raising this issue—Alexey Kallima, Irina Korina, Olga Chernysheva, and the Chto Delat collective—were recently joined by a younger generation: Sasha Auerbach, Ekaterina Lazareva, Vika Lomasko, Haim Sokol, and Olga Zhitlina. 

Migration issues seem to be yet another territory of life that art is trying to seize. Migrants receive an entry visa into the art world only as a labor force, or as the Other, having to undergo aesthetic disinfection first. But, we ask, perhaps it is time to unlock the bunkers of galleries and museums and come out to face reality? It is especially important now, when Russia’s political situation is so threatening: the recent nationalist riots on Manezh Square in Moscow, the so-called Russian Marches with thousands of supporters, politicians’ calls to “vote for Russians,” and official statements of Russia’s Ministry of Health authorities on “hygiene politics” all contain echoes of the Warsaw Ghetto. 

We are joining Immigrant Movement International, led by Tania Bruguera, in solidarity with December 18, International Migrants Day. For us, this is a first step toward bringing our collective efforts together. We are artists, cultural critics, activists, representatives of migrant organizations in Moscow, and all those who care about the issue.

Me-gration is organized by the Moscow-based artists Ekaterina Lazareva and Haim Sokol in parallel with the exhibition Haim Sokol: Barter at PROEKT_FABRIKA, December 15—25, 2011.

Me-gration is part of the December 18th International Migrants Day Action:


Both events are concurrent with December 18, International Migrants Day, a project launched by Immigrant Movement International, Queens Museum of Art, and Creative Time in New York.

Contact: Anya Pantuyeva, me.gration@gmail.com

Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center: http://www.sakharov-center.ru/ 

Free and open to the public. 

Participating Artists and Works 

Olga Chernysheva is one of the first artists in Russia who turned to the image of migrant worker, for example, in her photographic series Highway Number 8 (2007) featuring workers from Central Asia, and in her recent film, Garbage Man (2011).

Ekaterina Lazareva in her video Migrants (2011) deals with migration but incorporates lyrical and poetic components in her work. She structured her video shown in this project using the soundtrack from a popular French film, Le Peuple Migrateur.

Haim Sokol’s video Oath of Loyalty (2011) problematizes the interaction between artist and migrant worker: workers swear an oath of loyalty on the “Bible of the avant-garde,” Kazimir Malevich’s Manifesto, without understanding their act and remaining a labor force to be used by the artist.

Olga Zhitlina’s recorded performance Conspiracy (2011) stages an exchange of clothes between migrants and local youth in Saint Petersburg.

The Chto Delat collective, in collaboration with Activist Film Studio, will present “The Voice of Power” episode from their film Russian Sounds (2011). The artists create an image of Russian politicians that is simultaneously grotesque and naturalistic.


For those readers not able to attend tomorrow’s event in Moscow, here is a brief sneak preview Olga Zhitlina’s Conspiracy, a performance presented in the garden of the Anna Akhmatova Museum this past summer in Petersburg.

Recently, a new trend has emerged in St. Petersburg. In the morning, young men wearing the latest fashions, mostly natives of the town, members of the creative professions, meet with migrant workers at secret locations. They swap clothes with each other and then part ways, each going about his own business. Every day, their ranks are growing.

Initially, this idea arose in response to the threat of nationalist attacks, flagrant racism and the corruption of police officers who check documents ten times a day to extort bribes from migrants, who are often poorly informed of their rights. The young men dress in each other’s clothes in order to scramble the visual codes that make it easy to tell “Russians” from “non-Russians,” “locals” from “newcomers,” and “workers” from “intellectuals.”

By dressing in worker’s clothes, the members of what is now customarily called the creative class reject the enunciation of their identity through consumption and declare their intention to produce a culture without class and racial divisions, thus overcoming the opposition between creative and physical labor.
This is something like a tacit conspiracy among migrant workers and designers, artists, and ad agency employees — the people who produce visual culture (fashion, brands, labels — the window dressing of our reality) — against this system of organizing the environment. Those who produce design — this powerful tool for labeling and dividing — who devise the shape of buildings, objects, and clothes, have decided to steal it and use it in common with those engaged in the material realization of all these projects.

These clothes swaps began in one district of Petersburg, but they have quickly spread throughout the city. If there is no such group in your neighborhood yet, no one is stopping from you from organizing one yourself.

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Etats de l’Artifice (Paris)

Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris / ARC


Victor Alimpiev, Olga Chernysheva, Chto Delat, FFC, Nikolay Oleynikov

Press preview:  October 7th, 11am – 2pm.

Preview:  October 7th, 6pm9pm. Entrance upon presentation of this announcement.

Salle 18

8 October 2010 – 2 January 2011

Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris presents Etats de l’Artifice, curated by Elena Sorokina, running from October 8th 2010 through January 2nd 2011. This exhibition is organized in the framework of the l’Année France-Russie 2010.

This exhibition presents four artists and collectives who regularly employ theatrical situations in their videos and films. Some works explicitly revive filmed theater or dance, while others utilize the technique of “performance trouvé” —  scenes discovered by the camera in a documentary situation and used as a constitutive element of the film. A blend of theatrical devices and formal reflexivity carried out in diverse ways characterizes the work of the show, all produced from mid 2000 on. If the 90s celebrated violent self-expression in radical performances reacting to new freedoms and their illusions, today many artists employ reflective strategies marked by formal experimentation, often incorporating references to the styles or events of the Soviet past.

Rather then following a specific theme, this exhibition unfolds along two broadly defined leitmotifs. One focuses on the artists’ self-conscious engagement with the specific elements — stories, films, imagery — from the Soviet realist canon, exploring its conflicts and correspondences and making the spectator experience old debates and events as new encounters. The other takes up art’s current fascination with theater’s transformative power and its ability to speak about the present, sometimes described as “the present as fiction” or l’artifice du present.

The exhibition will change over time following a specific timeline and involves the projection of different groupings of films selected.

The videos by Chto Delat, founded in 2003, are realized by: Tsaplya (Olga Egorova); Nikolay Oleynikov, Gluklya (Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya), Nina Gasteva, Dmitry Vilensky. Composer: Mikhail Krutik.

FFC (Factory of Found Clothes), founded in 1995, consists of Tsaplya (Olga Egorova) and Gluklya (Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya)

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1st Ural Industrial Biennial: Shockworkers of the Mobile Image (Ekaterinburg)

1st Ural Industrial Biennial

Collage by the employees of Ural Worker Printing Press, 1990s
Photo: Andrei Luft

1st Ural Industrial Biennial
Shockworkers of the Mobile Image
9 September – 10 October 2010

Opening days:
8-12 September 2010

Ekaterinburg, Russia

Curators: Cosmin Costinas, Ekaterina Degot, David Riff

The National Center for Contemporary Art (NCCA) and the Sverdlovsk Region Governor’s Office are pleased to announce the opening of the 1st Ural Industrial Biennial. The biennial will take place in the Ural Workers Printing Press (the main project) and in four large industrial plants (the special projects) in the city of Ekaterinburg. The Ural Industrial Biennial is a format initiated and developed by the director of the National Center for Contemporary Art, Ekaterinburg branch, Alisa Prudnikova.

Ekaterinburg, formerly Sverdlovsk, is the capital of the Soviet Union’s industrial heartland, the Ural. When the USSR collapsed, the city’s many heavy industries fell prey to economic malaise. But today, Ekaterinburg has become one of the hubs of Russia’s resource economy, a site of accumulation following an era of shock privatization, a place where people dream with BRICs and awaken to the harsh realities of economic crisis. How should we understand all this new investor architecture, empty as of yet, all these new service industries, all that new imaginary “symbolic capital” produced by “creative professionals” and their underlings? What role does and can contemporary art play in such a place, when it comes to the half-operational spaces of Soviet industry? Can it be more than a shot in the dark, a fastmoving consumer commodity, a medium for gentrification, a plaything of the superrich? Can it be more than a reproduction?

The biennial’s title is “Shockworkers of the Mobile Image,” and its main venue is the Ural Worker Printing Press, a constructivist building in the center of Ekaterinburg. Built in 1929-1930, this space prompts a dialogue with the most contradictory period of Soviet history, when the party sent shock brigades to build heavy industries in the middle of nowhere. Their superproductive labor was supposedly voluntary, heroic, based on enthusiasm and affect, but overseen by a growing security apparatus. Foreign experts and internationalists participated, reproducing and implanting mobile images of Fordist modernity. Their engagement was genuine, but remained blind to the harsh reality of intensifying exploitation. In many ways, Russia’s transition to global post-Fordist capitalism is no less drastic, and today’s global artists, filmmakers, and architects are shockworkers, too, and internationalists, no doubt, capable of an affective solidarity much like that of the pre-fascist 1930s. They come to distant cities, working nights to build temporary factories on the sites abandoned by industry, factories that reproduce images, affects, and social relations, factories where free time takes on form and becomes a commodity. In Ekaterinburg, this temporary factory taps into a vast reservoir of amateur creativity, harkening back to an age when it seemed like all the shockwork was over… We want to ask: who is really the worker in this new factory? The artist? The curator? The audience? What happens when these workers leave? And what happens when they return?

Curated by Cosmin Costinas (Amsterdam/Utrecht), Ekaterina Degot (Moscow), and David Riff (Moscow/Berlin), “Shockworkers of the Mobile Image” draws together the work of more than 40 artists and filmmakers in a dense curatorial narrative.The exhibition consists almost entirely of copies, reproductions, rips, reconstituted objects and long-distance works, including contributions by: Yuri Albert, Tarsila do Amaral, Pablo Baen Santos, Yael Bartana, Bela Balazs Studio, Guy Ben-Ner, Blue Noses, Christian von Börries, Serguej Bratkov, Alex Buldakov, Cao Fei, Olga Chernysheva, Chto Delat, Evgenia Demina, Jimmie Durham, Harun Farocki, Daniel Faust, M.M. Fontenelle, Joris Ivens, Christian Jankowsky, Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, Nikita Kadan & Alexander Burlaka, Kolumne Links, Naroa Lizar, Roman Minin, Andrei Monastyrski, Rabih Mroue, Ciprian Muresan, Deimantas Narkevicius, Amshei Nuerenberg, Johannes Paul Raether, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Andreas Siekmann & Alice Creisher & Max Jorge Hinderer, Sean Snyder, Praneet Soi, Hito Steyerl, Mladen Stilinovic, Taller E.P.S. Huayco, Avdey Ter-Oganyan, David Ter-Oganyan, Florin Tudor & Mona Vatamanu, V.M.Volovich, Lin Yilin, Vadim Zakharov, among others.

The exhibition at the biennial’s main venue is accompanied by a program of special projects, curated by Alisa Prudnikova. It inhabits the operational or defunct premises of some of Ekaterinburg’s largest industrial plants. Artists from Ekaterinburg and elsewhere in Russia and from abroad will turn these production sites into a heterogeneous territory for experiments in the industrial environment. Factory spaces themselves become objects of artistic production that pursues a diversity of aims, be they critical, poetic, or social. The special projects program features contributions by artists from Russia, Great Britain, Spain, Germany, Mexico, the USA, France, Finland, and Sweden.

The biennial’s opening will be accompanied by an international symposium dedicated to discussing the industrial past and the post-industrial present.

On the occasion of the opening, the biennial will publish a catalogue in two volumes, one of them dedicated to the main venue, the other to the special projects program. Contributors include Oleg Aronson, Keti Chukhrov, Boris Groys, Hu Fang, Ben Seymour and Hito Steyerl.

Biennial venues:
Main venue: Ural Worker Printing Press (House of Print)
Special projects: Verkh Iset’ Metallurgical Factory, VIZ-Stal’, Ural Heavy Machines Plant, old Uralmash House of Culture, Colored Metals Factory (historical building), Sverdlovsk Worsted Factory

Commissar: Alisa Prudnikova
Intiator: National Center for Contemporary Art (NCCA)
Co-Initiators: Governor’s Office of the Sverdlovsk Region, the Sverdlovsk Regional Government with the official support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation
Organizer: National Center for Contemporary Art, Ekaterinburg branch
Co-organizers: City Administration of Ekaterinburg, “New Art” Regional Public Foundation in Support of Contemporary Art

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