Tag Archives: Verkhotura Dance Theater

May Day Congress-Commune of Creative Workers (Moscow)

First Open 48-Hour May Day Congress-Commune of Creative Workers. Moscow, April 29–30, 2010

Over the course of the two days, artists, researchers, translators, teachers, curators, union activists, journalists, writers and musicians from all over Russia will take part in round-table discussions, talk-marathons, poetry readings, and concerts. In recent years, the participants have been involved in many artistic and research initiatives that address the social and economic situation of creative workers in contemporary Russian society.

As neoliberalism continues to establish its hold, its ugly manifestations have become a daily reality for all of us. Not only have exploitation and lack of freedom taken on increasingly elaborate forms, but the very resourcefulness and creative potential of artists and researchers are also appropriated and capitalized by employers. It is against this backdrop that the issues raised by the phenomenon of precarious labor have become ever more pressing. It is our conviction that a reassessment of the precarious worker’s position in today’s economic structure calls for joint action in search of a new cultural space and an alternative educational platform outside of and beyond the fraudulent logic of the neoliberal market economy. Alongside the struggle against injustice at the workplace, collective defense of rights within militant trade unions, and street politics, we are now making another crucial step towards a re-examination of our position and, therefore, towards change.

he May Congress builds on and develops the experience of such earlier projects as Drift. Narvskaya Zastava (St. Petersburg—Moscow, 2004–2005), Self-Education(s) (exhibition, Moscow, 2006), 68.08. Street Politics (exhibition, Moscow, 2008), and Leftist Art. Leftist History. Leftist Philosophy. Leftist Poetry (seminar, Nizhny Novgorod, 2009).

The Congress will be organized around two main thematic clusters: LABOR and SELF-ORGANIZATION. The third, practice-oriented section of the congress will take place on the morning of May 1, International Workers’ Day, which celebrates unity and solidarity. Congress participants will take to the streets of Moscow to form their own joyful and creative column.

The Congress will provide modest dorm-like accommodations for its participants on the premises of Proekt-Fabrika (Moscow, Perevedenovsky pereulok, 18).

Scheduled participants/projects: Vpered Socialist Movement; Chto Delat; Translit Almanac; Seminar Group; Street University; From Community to Union; Educational Film Group; Megazine.Biz; Kinote.Info; Keti Chukhrov/Mobile Theater of the Communist; Free Marxist Press; Liberated Marxist Food; Here and Everywhere Studio; Everything That’s Filmed; Institute for Collective Action; Verkhotura and Friends.

You can read texts that have inspired congress participants here (in Russian and English).

If you wish to make a donation to the congress, you may do so in the following ways:

US Dollars: Alfa-Bank Account No. 40817840704190003607
Euros: Alfa-Bank Account No. 40817978104980006548
Yandex Money Account No. 41001516866888

For more information, write to: may-congress@yandex.ru


Filed under activism, alternative education, contemporary art, critical thought, open letters, manifestos, appeals, Russian society

Song of Solidarity: A Video Letter to Artem Loskutov

On June 9, members of the Verkhotura Dance Theater, the Street University, and their friends recorded this “Song of Solidarity” for Artem Loskutov, who was released on his own recognizance from a Novosibirsk jail on June 10.


Spring has come to the streets, the trees are already in bloom.
And only the lads don’t come to see us,
And only the lads don’t come to see us.
For nowadays they nab the young fellows here, there and everywhere.
For nowadays young fellows,
Artists, the bolder ones,
Are nabbed here, there and everywhere.

It’s moot to ask who is to blame.
Neither the City of  N. nor Center “E” has anything to do with it, it seems.
Neither the City of  N. nor Center “E” has anything to do with it, it seems.
They nab the boys and charge them, and it’s all the same to them.
They nab the boys and charge them,
They force them to confess,
And it’s all the same to them.

Don’t slumber, artist, don’t succumb to sleep.
You are the system’s hostage, a prisoner of the times.
You are the system’s hostage, a prisoner of the times.
Struggle, artist, struggle, don’t confess your guilt.
Struggle, artist, struggle.
You are the system’s hostage.
Don’t confess your guilt.

Lawlessness abounds, and it is impossible to remain silent.
We clench our fists when we hear of fabricated criminal cases.
We clench our fists when we hear of fabricated criminal cases.
Your extremist department is art’s arch enemy.
Your extremist department, on the sidelines, as it were,
Is art’s arch enemy.

We throw aside our paints and brushes, we head into the streets.
When it is forbidden for us to speak, we won’t grow glum.
When it is forbidden for us to speak, we won’t grow glum.
When art is under lock and key, we head into the streets.
When art is under lock and key,
And everyone has forgotten about the law,
We head into the streets.

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Filed under contemporary art, film and video, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, protests

“I’ll Give Myself to the President” (Kaliningrad, January 31, 2009)

The wave of total, self-abnegating assent to the Russian government’s s0-called anti-crisis program has now spread to the western frontier of the world’s largest country—Kaliningrad (Königsberg). We just received this dispatch from a correspondent on our platform:

On January 31, a rally in support of the President’s anti-crisis program was scheduled to take place on the main square in Kaliningrad. Inspired by the March of the Assenters carried out on January 25 by our friends in Petersburg, we—the Verkhotura Dance Theater and our supporters—resolved to similarly support the President during these difficult times for Russia. After lengthy preparations we succeeded in infiltrating the area cordoned off for the rally. Thanks to the relaxed state evinced by the guardians of the peace, who are accustomed to the standard scenario for a provincial rally, we were able to smuggle in placards and a ladder. We took up our positions not far from the stage and began our performance. A five-member women’s chorus began singing the national anthem of the Russian Federation. After they had performed a few stanzas, one of the young ladies mounted the ladder and, shouting the slogan “Everything for the President!” performed a fall. Her example was followed by the other young ladies, who accompanied their falls with the cries “I’ll Give Up the Shirt Off My Back!” “I’ll Donate All My Blood!” “I’m for a 100% Tax!” “I’ll Give Myself to the President!” and so forth. The chorus was supported by a group bearing placards and by random spectators.

"I'll Give Up My Last Toy!"

"I'll Give Up My Last Toy!"

After a while, some smiling policemen joined the ranks of the passive spectators and began reluctantly asking them questions. We were not prepared for this peaceful turn of events and we even became a little confused. But then one of the men in uniform approached the “oldest people in our group” and began questioning them. Regrouping and forming something like a round dance around the men, we accompanied our movements with the chant “Crisis, crisis, go away!” Then the two young men were asked to immediately proceed to the police station. We (the unjustly ignored female half of our group) protested this action and even tried to block the police van. Unable to free our comrades, we followed our friends to the precinct by tram.

We noticed that the tram was being tailed by a police cruiser that suspiciously stopped at all the tram stops. When we got out at the right stop, a police officer managed to catch up with us on foot. In a strict tone of voice he invited us to the precinct, to which we responded that this was exactly where we were going. But as we made our way there, one of our arrested comrades called and said that we should not go there under any circumstances. Although we were shocked, we quickly grasped the situation and escaped from the arm of the law. On a small street (already an hour after the rally) we were suddenly surrounded by two cars. The men who jumped out instantly blocked our escape route and began to forcibly shove us into the cars. We girls began to scream quite loudly, and so the police were also forced to detain our innocent photographer (the only man with us at this point).

Meanwhile, down at the station, something odd was happening. The policemen were unable to draw up the arrest protocol: they were forced to rewrite it several times because no one knew what to write. One of the arrestees and one of the policemen realized they were high school classmates and they began fondly remembering days of yore. Displeased that their weekends had been ruined (many of the officers had been forced to quickly report for duty) and by the tiring wait for “orders from the top brass,” the police officers began amusing themselves by taking pictures of each other holding our confiscated placards and quietly humming “Crisis, crisis, go away!” as they went about their mundane daily tasks. Many of them confessed that, for the most part, they agreed that the situation in the country was “unhealthy” and that something needed to be done, but that “something” was beyond their authority. Besides, the country was in a crisis, and they had families.

In the end, our group was released and summoned to a date with the judge, which took place in atmosphere of jokes and smiles on the part of the judge and witnesses, and ended with a fine of 1,000 rubles, as well as the absurd offer made by a local deputy, who had become our fan, to “collaborate.” And so, “to be continued. . .”

Local media accounts of the action (in Russian, with photographs):
Kaliningrad.Ru: “Participants of the Action ‘I’ll Give Myself to the President’ Have Been Fined 1,000 Rubles”
Kaliningrad.Ru: “Anti-Crisis Manifestations”
Klops.Ru: “Two Rallies at the Same Time: ‘We Need a Tax on Air.’”

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Filed under activism, film and video, protests, Russian society