Tag Archives: Oxana Timofeeva

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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Nikolay Oleynikov: Zero Gravity Revolt (Brussels)

NIKOLAY OLEYNIKOV
(Chto Delat and more)
ZERO GRAVITY REVOLT

A learning mural

Curated by Elena Sorokina; choreographed by Ula Sickle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What Does It Mean to Say “No”? Negativity Now (Saint Petersburg)

artesliberales.spbu.ru

18 April 2011

What Does It Mean to Say “No”? Negativity Now (conference)

Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, St.Petersburg State University (former Smolny College)
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment, 11, room 248

Is it easy to say no – to reject something, deny something, or accept the loss? Philosophy of the last two centuries draws attention to the paradox of negation which cannot help but reaffirm what it pretends rejecting. Nevertheless, at least since Hegel, “negativity,” a real force that enables a logical negation, is considered to be essential to the modern epoch. All major concepts of modernity — subjectivity, democracy, freedom, revolution — include a positive evaluation of the negative. We insist on the irreducible difference, on indeterminate openness, on the decisive break with the past and on the marvelous ability to constantly overcome itself. But this very same negativity has another, depressing face: the epoch of negativity risks, as Nietzsche said, “willing nothing” and therefore wills “the nothing” in absence of a better option.

Today, in retrospect, the twentieth century appears to us as a search for a “true,” absolute negativity, which would not have anything positive in it and would represent a pure nothing or a pure disjuncture. In spite of these attempts, the cause of negativity has so far been lost on the political and institutional level to the force of positivism and consensus. Hence the current resurgence of interest in this notion. Perhaps, after summarizing twentieth-century reflection on the negative, we will be able to think how to institutionalize it.

Program of the Conference

  • 14:00-15:00 Artemy Magun “Why negativity matters? A brief history of the question”
  • 15:00-16:00 Mladen Dolar “Hegel and Freud”
  • 16:00-16:30 Coffee break
  • 16:30-17:30  Benjamin Noys “Economies of negativity”
  • 17:30-17:45 Coffee break
  • 17:45-18:45 Keti Chukhrov “Adorno and the negativity in modernism”
  • 18:45-19:00 Coffee-break
  • 19:00-20:00  Oxana Timofeeva “Negative animality”
  • 20:00-21:30 Drinks and snacks

Talks will be held in English.

For more information:

E-mail: director [DOT] collegium [AT] smolny [DOT] org

Tel: (+7-812) 320-0727

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Revealing the October Revolution (Maastricht)

Revealing the October Revolution
A workshop organized by Oxana Timofeeva
Saturday, 5 February 2011, 14:00 — 21:30

Jan van Eyck Academie
Academieplein 1
6211 KM Maastricht
The Netherlands

Revealing the October Revolution takes a new look at the heritage of Russia’s revolutionary past – starting with the Russian revolution of October 1917. Many intellectuals, artists, poets and writers were inspired by the utopia of the revolution. One of those was Andrey Platonov, Russian author and one of the first for whom the revolution took shape in a true Marxist literary practice. In his work, Platonov investigated themes such as community, sexuality, gender, labour, production, death, ‘nature’, utopia and the paradoxes of forming a new (better) society. For a long time Platonov’s work was marginalised, due to Stalinist censorship and due to the later liberal and religious interpretations of his work.

In spite of this negligence, his work is an important point of reference for thinkers like Georg Lukács, Fredric Jameson and Slavoj Zizek. In Russia, a new wave of writers is trying to rethink Platonov’s work, which slowly but surely creates room for a broader perspective on the way in which different art and different literature can be produced from history and life. The workshop Revealing the October Revolution aims to introduce and involve participants in the problem of re-interpreting the (mainly) Russian avant-garde tradition. It hopes to engender a discussion about the question of how engaged thinking can deal with its own past without corrupting it. The workshop comprises a seminar with four speakers and the screening of two films based on Platonov’s novels. Revealing the October Revolution is organized by Oxana Timofeeva, researcher in the Theory Department. Guests are Tony Wood, Jonathan Flatley, Artemy Magun and Alexander Skidan.

14:00
Tony Wood
14:45
Jonathan Flatley
15:30
break
15:45
Artemy Magun
16:30
Oxana Timofeeva
17:15
discussion
18:00
break
20:00
Film screening: A Voice of a Man, by Alexander Sokurov; The Motherland of Electricity, by Larisa Shepitko. Introduction by Alexander Skidan

CONTACT: Madeleine Bisscheroux and Anne Vangronsveld, coordinators of public programmes and events

coordinator.events@janvaneyck.nl • www.janvaneyck.nl

t  +31 (0)43 350 37 29 • f  +31 (0)43 350 37 99

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Living Politically: A 48-Hour Communal Life Seminar (Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht)

Living Politically: A 48-Hour Communal Life Seminar
Friday 2 July, 10:00 – Sunday 4 July, 10:00
Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht, the Netherlands

The Jan van Eyck Academie is hosting Living Politically: A 48-Hour Communal Life Seminar. The Communal Life Seminar is an initiative of the Chto Delat collective and the Vpered Socialist Movement (Russia) as a response to the acute need to establish alternate forms of collectivity. The fundamental principle of this seminar is that its participants constitute a temporary community for the duration of the event. By combining research, creative work and daily living, they are transformed into a commune.

Living Politically will focus on the problem of how to combine theory and art with the militant political life. The Russian philosophers, artists and scholars organising this initiative have invited people from various branches of creative knowledge production, such as design, art, poetry and philosophy, to participate in the seminar.

During the seminar, participants will attempt to answer three questions: How are the practices of various disciplines and their professional production methods conditioned by the political stances and activist practices of artists and researchers? How do the collective appropriation and generalisation of specific scholarly, artistic and activist work shape new models of politicisation? Seminar participants will focus on what ‘living politically’ means for them. Which political categories do they invoke to make sense not only of their own work in research and art institutions, but also of their daily lives? Thus, one theme of the seminar will be the commonalities and differences between contemporary European and Russian types of political subjectivation. The programme includes lectures, performances, discussions and screenings.

Friday 2 July

Nikolay Oleynikov (Moscow)
Why obshezhitie?
— lecture introducing the context of “political/creative living” in Russia over the past decade

Pietro Bianchi (JVE)
The dark side of the communal
— presentation + discussion

Factory of Found Clothes (Gluklya & Tsaplya)
Witness cabinet

franck leibovici (paris)
some musical techniques of political composition
— theoretical performance, collective performance: one would draw a strong link between processes of production of knowledge, systems of (musical, choreographic, scientific) notation and the nature of collectives which perform them. following john cage’s line, one would say that a score should be like the ideal representation of a society in which one would like to live. we will exercise during 48h.

Kirill Medvedev (Moscow)
Poetry as politics
— examples of political, civic and feminist poetry to show how radical work in poetry shapes the revolutionary political challenge

Elena Sorokina (Brussels)
Communism’s afterlife in contemporary art

Filipa Ramos & Andrea Lissoni (Milan/London)
Political action does not produce objects – Parades and the (re)contextualization of the individual subject
— how to insert in the question of Living-Politically a reflection on parades and their possibility to act, inter-act and trigger some new practices between single and collectivity; while trying at the same time to analyse the operations of recontextualization associated with the use of this practice in the context of visual art.

Dmitry Vilensky (St. Petersburg)
Making film politically
— the possibilities for collective work during the shooting and editing of films as well as familiarising participants with the historical background of this approach and the ways it is practically realised today

Alexei Penzin (Moscow)
Sleeping politically
— a nighttime lecture on sleep and the sleeping body as a limit of the rationalization of life in the context of late capitalism, on the relationship between sleep, wakefulness and power, as well as on awakening and political subjectivisation. He will also discuss some early Soviet utopian projects concerning sleep.

Chto Delat & Pietro Bianchi
— night screenings

Saturday 3 July

Elena Sorokina & franck leibovici
performing a document: aerobics reconception (featuring Elena Sorokina)
— In order to answer the question “what does performing a document mean?” we will do some gymnastics in the small hours.

Tzuchien Tho (JVE)
Math politics

Aaron Schuster (Brussels)
Politics of nature: Marxism and psychoanalysis, labour and sex

Oxana Timofeeva (JVE)
Political animal

franck leibovici
mini-opera for non-musicians
— collective performance – concert

Factory of Found Clothes (Gluklya & Tsaplya, Amsterdam/ St. Petersburg) with Andros Zins-Browne (JVE)
Loving-politically
— ballet-dance performance + discussion on relations: We would like to organise a kind of “witness cabinet”: each participant can have a private conversation with us about their problems in personal relations. After summarising all the models in our laboratory, we will find the problem which is common to everybody and based on this knowledge we’ll create a performance piece.

Katja Diefenbach (JVE)
Less than a thing: queer politics and the deconstruction of the fetish

Katja Diefenbach
— night screenings

CONTACT:
Madeleine Bisscheroux
Anne Vangronsveld
Public Programme and Events Coordinators

coordinator.events@janvaneyck.nl
www.janvaneyck.nl
t +31 (0)43 350 37 29
f +31 (0)43 350 37 99

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Nikolay Oleynikov: The Urgent Need for Struggle (Moscow)

Nikolay Oleynikov
The Urgent Need for Struggle
May 12—June 1, 2010
Paperworks Gallery (Winzavod, Moscow)

At 2:00 p.m. on May 12, concurrent with the exhibition opening, there will be a presentation of the zine “The Urgent Need for Struggle” at Paperworks Gallery. A joint publication of Chto Delat, the Free Marxist Press, the January 19 Committee, and Paperworks Verlag, the zine features texts and artwork by Artemy Magun, Oxana Timofeeva, Maxim Stepanov, Paolo Virno, Christina Kaindl, Alexander Bikbov, Ksenia Poluektova-Krimer,  Władysław Szlengel, Kirill Medvedev, Darya Atlas, Keti Chukrov, and Nikolay Oleynikov. The presentation will also include a roundtable with talks by Ksenia Poluektova-Krimer, Kirill Medvedev, Maxim Stepanov, Alexander Bikbov, and Vlad Tupikin, and a discussion with zine authors and activists.

The revanchism of ultra-rightists on our streets, in the corridors of power, on the pages of newspapers, in university lecture halls, and at art exhibitions does not allow us to consign antifascism to the archives of the past century.

We are in solidarity with the prisoners who rose against the Nazis in Sobibor and the Warsaw Ghetto, with the struggle of Soviet soldiers, the anarchists and POUM militants of Spain, the heroes of the French and Italian Resistance, the Yugoslav partisans, and the victims of Pinochet’s reign of terror.

We do not believe that their heroism should be relegated to the ghettoes of ethnic, state, party or subcultural memory. We do not believe that the historical contradictions between antifascists in the past should divide us today. Historical memory belongs to everyone who is prepared to apply it in their lives and share it with others.

We do not perceive fascism either as an abstract, supernatural evil or a manifestation of perennial human vices. Historically, fascism of all stripes has been generated by a system that has particular features and a specific name. This system is capitalism. Fascism is born when dialogue about specific social ills and contradictions is replaced by a discourse that preaches the primacy of strength, success, and manifest destiny, and the inviolability of social, ethnic and all other boundaries and hierarchies, which are alleged to be God-given or natural. We believe that there is no such thing as God-given or natural inequality.

We know of only one boundary, that between right (that is, hierarchy, whether conservative, national-socialist or market-fundamentalist) and left (that is, equality as the ultimate horizon and the concrete steps that lead us towards this horizon).

We see the urgent need for struggle, including in the realms of culture, art, and knowledge. We must ensure the continuity of antifascist theory and practice.

—The Editorial Board

____________

Here is the conclusion to the lead article in “The Urgent Need for Struggle.”

Artemy Magun: “What Is Fascism and Where Does it Come From?”

[…]

In today’s Russia, fascism is not (thank God) the dominant ideology or political force. That force is conservative liberalism. Fascism, however, is still on the political agenda in Russia. The powers that be simultaneously fear it, use it to frighten the liberal opposition, and flirt with it.

First, Russia not only has smallish ultra-rightist youth gangs, but also popular fascist intellectuals – in particular, Alexander Dugin and Geidar Djemal. These men do not label themselves fascists (although Dugin did use this word in reference to himself during the nineties). Typologically, however, their texts belong to the fascist “family.” Their rhetoric is deliberately mannered and often does not withstand rational critique. For all the eclecticism of this rhetoric, its content boils down to certain invariants: mystical/eschatological scenarios, the imperialistic propaganda of war on the part of groups and countries subjugated at present (“Eurasia” or the Islamic proletariat), etc. Both thinkers combine appeals to the downtrodden with the propaganda of authoritarian obedience. These texts remained popular among readers for a time, provoking neither moral nor political “censorship” in a country where the consequences of World War Two have not been analyzed from the viewpoint of morality, and where the social consensus is ideologically right-wing. Today, however, Dugin’s ideas are being realized in practice in the “International Eurasian Movement” he heads and within other radical right-wing groups. They are employed to justify direct violence against outsiders (moreover, not non-Russians as such, but certain groups that are incompatible with Dugin’s notion of “Eurasia”). And yet at the same time, Dugin has served as an adviser to the speaker of the State Duma, was recently (in 2008) appointed a professor in the sociology department at Moscow State University, and is frequently invited to lecture at Saint Petersburg State University.

Second, surrounding the flagrant fascism of Dugin or Djemal there is a large zone that we might call fascizoid. It generates a climate in which the texts and gestures of such writers are perceived as comme il faut. As early as the late nineties, a manipulative attitude to political texts and ideas (“political technology”) took root in society, and there emerged an especially cynical style of aggressive rhetoric that did not hide the fact that it was purely demonstrative and sought to impress its audience by virtue of its effectiveness. Vladimir Zhirinovsky was probably the first to “invent” this style. It later came to be widely employed, for example, in the “war” waged on Russian television channels in 1999 (Sergei Dorenko’s style), and is to this day typical of the extremely aggressive nationalistic rhetoric of Mikhail Leontiev (on the “However” program). Moreover, in both cases we are dealing with journalists who were previously liberal and analytical in terms of their style. The ongoing Chechen war and contradictions in Russia’s foreign relations made it possible to engage in this rhetoric of violence with a relative amount of legitimacy. At the same time, this rhetoric services the subject who is “liberated” from ideology but is fundamentally passive. This subject is unwilling to give up those little things that fuel his subjectivity (apartment, education, recognition of his class), but wants somehow to express both his own ego and his frustration with the emptiness that prevails around him.

The aestheticization of violence was also characteristic of popular culture during the nineties (as typified, for example, by such films as Brother, Brother-2, and Brigada). In addition, as early as the stagnation period, a huge interest in mystical and occult theories and practices of all kinds emerged within society, including amongst the intelligentsia. This interest boomed during perestroika, thus coinciding with the popularity of the commercialized New Age in the western media.

Whereas during the nineties the rhetoric of violence, nationalism, and occultism were mostly ludic, aestheticizing, and, at the same time, manipulative in character, in the following decade, after Vladimir Putin came to power, they came to be taken more seriously: although the degree of its violence decreased, this sort of rhetoric became more widespread amongst public figures. Putin himself has frequently exploited it by as it were “breaking loose” from officialese (e.g., “We’ll wipe out [the Chechen terrorists] in their outhouse,” “If you want to become an Islamic radical and have yourself circumcised, I invite you to come to Moscow,” etc.) and publicly humiliating his underlings. Moreover, during the past decade, aggressive nationalism has practically become Russia’s official ideology. True, this nationalism is not ethnic in character and rarely leads to outright militarism. Nevertheless, it is one of the central rhetorical genres of public life (as exemplified in stories about the intrigues of the country’s enemies and the stupidity of politically correct Americans).

In short, a certain fascizoid context exists in Russia today. Given this atmosphere, acute socioeconomic disruption and failed liberal-democratic reforms could fortify the fascist movements and their alliance with the authorities. We could describe this context as a set of popular mindsets and particular facts that the society regards as legitimate and tolerable (at very least). These include a manipulative and cynical attitude to all ideas; a desire for “myths,” which allegedly need to be deliberately produced (many liberally minded intellectuals share these first two attitudes); the aestheticization of violence and violent rhetoric; a nationalistic xenophobia triggered by a sense that the country has been humiliated; and, finally, the presence of quasi-legal paramilitary youth groups. Whereas it is the police who should combat these radical right-wing gangs (something it does not do), it is the job of all citizens, especially intellectuals in their workplaces, to struggle against the overall context. We must strive to create an atmosphere in which fascism or semi-fascism ceases to be comme il faut. But we cannot achieve this with ordinary political correctness or liberal moralism. They are part of the problem, not the solution. It is likewise counterproductive to excessively generalize the notion of fascism, apply it to all non-liberal tendencies, and demonize our opponents.

We can achieve this [de-fascisization of public discourse] by involving people in a concrete democratic discussion of our country’s future, demonstrating the limits of cynicism and egoism, criticizing capitalism, revealing the roots and hopelessness of historical fascism, and seriously enlightening the masses with the aid of philosophy and science (as opposed to positivism, which precisely generates mysticism as its necessary complement). It is only enlightenment from the left, along with the practical struggle to democratize politics and the economy, that can rob fascism of its vulgar charms.

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Communism’s Afterlives (Brussels/Paris)

COMMUNISM’S AFTERLIVES

The seminar will take place in Brussels and Paris, in both cases at The Public School.

Brussels, April 23rd, 3-6pm
Participants: Agency, Dessislava Dimova, Albert Heta, Olga Kisseleva
For more information: http://brussels.thepublicschool.org/class/2336

Paris, April 24th, 3-6pm
Participants: Pietro Bianchi, Renata Poljak, Société Réaliste, Oxana Timofeeva
For more information: http://paris.thepublicschool.org/class/1773

Organized by Elena Sorokina and Natasa Petresin-Bachelez

After the collapse of the Soviet bloc, communism as idea, image or problem has been regarded as “outmoded, absurd, deplorable or criminal, depending on the case.” Today, it is often presented by the mainstream media as a parenthesis of history, an aberration of the 20th century, as “a completely forgotten word, only to be identified with a lost experience.” Although the communist hypotheses of previous eras may no longer be valid, their histories, narratives and key notions have never ceased to spark attention and inform recent discussions such as the communal versus the common, and material versus immaterial property, to name just a few. Perceived from a greater distance today, communism has re-emerged as a topic for investigation in artistic and exhibition production, that reflects it in diverse ways, addressing the relevance of the term today or inviting provocative comparisons with the present.

This seminar aims at presenting various works that recast ideas related to communism and revisit it as a complex and diverse arena of political and aesthetic attitudes, which varied between nations, communities and historical periods. By no means does the seminar intend to take a nostalgic tour through the past decades, but rather seeks to address the topic through concrete art and exhibition projects realized recently. All of them are trying to deconstruct the idea of monolith, still very present in today’s reception, and to recuperate various episodes, stories and notably, the “communist apocrypha” – texts, music, visual production – which have never been part of the established ideological canon, and whose intellectual patterns shed new light on what the contemporary uses of the notion of communism might be. Instead of treating communism as pure political abstraction, the projects presented by the seminar deal with concepts, events and/or particular personalities related to communism and its history which have survived the Bildersturm of the recent past and can be artistically reactivated.

Facebook event:

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=532787364#!/event.php?eid=101896426520537&ref=mf

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Filed under contemporary art, critical thought