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We're a team of eight artists, curators and critics with a broader network of art professionals on the post-soviet, post-communist and diasporic spaces. With our ability to grasp, to describe and to invert the sensable, we might be your best collaborator.
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Mission

 

TransitoryWhite is a journal of overlapping, multi-voiced accounts documenting peripheral artistic productions.

The project was launched in 2017 by a group of curators, art specialists and artists from Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia living in Berlin/Vienna. 

We aimed to create an intersectional platform for discussing decolonization, post-neoliberalism trauma and the possibility of dispersive views on the so-called post-communist territories.

Since 2019, the platform has also operated in the trajectories of migrant and post-displacement discourse, expanding its activities from the geographical pole "East" to the global. In response to the growing nationalistic discourse, it is crucial for our investigation to represent artists and theorists with different identities and ideas for the future. In this way, TransitoryWhite emphasizes the productive interaction between different multitudes rather than dualities. 

TransitoryWhite understands whiteness as a metaphor for colonialism, or as a white, self-contained exhibition space where the hierarchy of discourses and images is prejudiced. Instead, we turn to the idea of White Noise; a signal or constant disturbance, something cacophonic, turbulent and restless which fluctuates and transforms our perspectives.

Contributors

Laura Arena

Laura Arena is a Level 3 Reiki practitioner certified and licensed in the state of New York. She's a graduate of the Art of Energetic Healing School located in Manhattan with spiritual teacher and master healer Suzy Meszoly. Next to being a Level 3 Reiki practitioner, Laura is a multidisciplinary artist, activist, designer, and curator based in Brooklyn, New York. Arena’s work encompasses photography, video, installation, writing, and social interventions with a focus on storytelling, human rights causes, gameplay, race, and identity. She has exhibited in galleries and festivals worldwide and has participated in events in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Arena has attended residencies and workshops in Greenland, Iceland, Romania, Hungary, Palestine, Turkey, and the United States. 

In 2021 she will be mapping the Chakras of Berlin as an artist in resident at Z/KU (Center for Art and Urbanistics).

Read her article: CHAKRAS OF TBILISI

Mariya Dmitrieva

Mariya Dmitrieva is an artist, independent curator, and cyberfeminist. She is a co-organiser of Studiya 4413 in St. Petersburg, Russia, a self-regulated, artist/activist-run platform functioning as an intersection of diverse social strata, queer-crip optics, artistic mediums, contemporary critical thinking, and adequate political action; Maria is a member of N i i c h e g o d e l a t ‘ (Donoothing), a network of flickering, horizontal laboratories of political imagination researching and redescribing ideas around work ethic, machine vs human relations, and connectivity between utopian and real, and initiator of Free mapping project, a digital platform calibrating alternative culture-political landscape of self-organised liberal associations/projects, and coordinator of p2p&hackercare, a translocal agency.

Read her articles: TRANSBOUNDRY MIGRATION OF CARE: PANDEMIA AFTER 8TH OF MARCH (EN), ТРАНСГРАНИЧНАЯ МИГРАЦИЯ ЗАБОТЫ: ПАНДЕМИЯ ПОСЛЕ 8 МАРТА (RU)

Ina Hildebrandt

Ina Hildebrandt is an art historian and cultural journalist.

Read her articles and interviews: ON THE LOOP

Ivan Isaev

Ivan Isaev is an independent curator, based in Moscow. He curated platform Start, Winzavod, season 2014-15, and “Leaving Tomorrow” exhibition (2015, Moscow), participated at Infra-Curatorial Platform at 11th Shanghai Biennale (2016). He is a co-founder of «Triangle» curatorial studio (Moscow, 2014-2016) and later initiated platform blind_spot. Ivan Isaev is now a curator of Garage Studios program at Garage MCA, Moscow.

Read his article: THE LAST SPARKS

Anna Kamay

Anna Kamay is an independent curator and cultural manager hailing from Yerevan, Armenia. Anna organizes community-based art projects with the goal of using public space and art to meet local needs and manages Nest Artist Residency and Community Center at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Yerevan.

Read her article: JUGGLING DINOSAURS, 2019 CURATOR'S CHOICE, (IT WOULD BE) NICE TO MEET YOU, TOO

Victoria Kravtsova

Victoria Kravtsova has studied International Relations in St. Petersburg and Berlin. In Berlin she is active in NGO projects in Eastern Europe, co-organizing seminars and exchange programs in the fields of environment, human rights, gender equality and civic education. Victoria receives a scholarship from Heinrich Böll Foundation and is engaged in writing her thesis “Between the ‘posts’, out of the void” where she traces the travels of the contemporary feminist discourses to and from Central Asia.

Read her articles and interviews: EMBRACE YOUR ANTITHESIS, WANDERING POETICS OF CENTRAL ASIAN MESTIZAS, WHERE THE ROSES GROW, Interview with Madina Tlostanova Part I and Part II, БУМЕРАНГ КОЛОНИЗАЦИИ

Melikset Panosian

Melikset Panosian is a writer and translator from Gyumri, Armenia. He participated in artistic projects focusing on the troubled past of Gyumri, borders, conflicts and consequent traumas since 2012. Panosian contributed to a number of literary magazines in Armenia such as Queering Yerevan, Gretert and Yeghegan Pogh. He also participated in the translation of Hannah Arendt’s “We refugees” into the Armenian language. Melikset Panosian’s published works include art book “Out In Head” (2012), “Silent Stroll”, a novella he authored in 2014, and the Armenian translation of Kardash Onnig’s “Savage Chic: A Fool's Chronicle of the Caucasus” published in 2017.

Read his article: (IT WOULD BE) NICE TO MEET YOU, TOO

Leah Peirce

Leah Peirce (b. 2002 in Berlin, Germany) is a Berlin-based poet, with Georgian and English background.  She works with words, sound, images and performative art. Her multilingual poems explore the fluidity of languages, the barriers they bear, how language holds culture and visa versa.

Read her poetry: LEAH PEIRCE

Daria Prydybailo

Daria Prydybailo is a curator, researcher, founder of the TRSHCHN platform and co-founder of the NGO Art Matters Ukraine.

Read her article: 2019 CURATOR'S CHOICE, ВАГІТНІ РЕВОЛЮЦІЄЮ, ВЗАЄМОПОВ'ЯЗАНІ ТА ВЗАЄМОЗАЛЕЖНІ

Thibaut de Ruyter

Saltanat Shoshanova

Saltanat Shoshanova is currently pursuing her Master's degree in History of Arts at the Free University Berlin. Her research interests include art in connection to queer and feminist theory, queer migration, decoloniality and post-Soviet space. She is an activist and co-organized several queer feminist conferences in Vienna and Berlin.

Read her article: ON LANGUAGE OF SUPREMACY: MEDINA BAZARGALI IN CONVERSATION, 2019 CURATOR'S CHOICE, ÜBER SPRACHE DER VORHERRSCHAFT: GESPRÄCH MIT MEDINA BAZARGALI (DE)

Julia Sorokina

Yuliya Sorokina is freelance curator of contemporary art, lecturer, tutor, author of texts, lives and works in Almaty, Kazakhstan. 

Read her article: 2019 CURATOR'S CHOICE

Antonina Stebur

Antonina Stebur is a curator and researcher. She studied visual and cultural sciences at the European Humanities University (Vilnius, Lithuania) and at the School of Engaged Art of the art group "Chto Delat? (Saint Petersburg, Russia). She is a member of the artist group #damaudobnayavbytu ("Woman comfortable in everyday life"), which examines the feminist agenda in the Russian and Belarusian context. She has curated a number of exhibitions in Belarus, Russia, Poland, France and China. Her research areas and curatorial interests are: community, re-composition of everyday practices, feminist critique, new sensibility, grassroots initiatives.

Read her articles: ICH LIEBE DICH!, ANOTHER PRODUCTION DRAMA, МЫ СЁННЯ ЗНАХОДЗІМСЯ Ў ІНШАЙ ВЫТВОРЧАЙ ДРАМЕ, 2019 CURATOR'S CHOICE

Annika Terwey

Annika Terwey is a German-Italian new media designer & artist. She studied visual communication at the Berlin University of the Arts and graduated from the new media class. In her work, she is exploring new forms of communication through interaction design, video installation and exhibitions. Her interest range from environmental science, new technologies and human perception.

Read her article: ON LANGUAGE OF SUPREMACY: MEDINA BAZARGALI IN CONVERSATION, ÜBER SPRACHE DER VORHERRSCHAFT: GESPRÄCH MIT MEDINA BAZARGALI (DE)

Alex Ulko

Alexey Ulko was born in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) in 1969. After graduating form Samarkand University with a diploma in English he obtained an MEd TTELT degree from the University of St Mark and St John (UK). Since 2003 he has been working as a freelance consultant in English, Culture Studies and Art for various cultural organisations. Has been making experimental films since 2007 and is an active writer about Central Asian contemporary art. His current artistic interests: experimental cinema, photography, visual poetry. Member of the European Society for Central Asian Studies, the Association of Art Historians (UK) and the Central Eurasian Studies Society (USA).

Read his article: 2019 CURATOR'S CHOICE, THE SHIFT OF THE PARADIGM IN MODERN CENTRAL ASIAN ART, THE OTHER EAST

Lolisanam Ulug

Lola Ulugova (Lolisanam) has been an activist in Tajikistan since 2000.  She was the founding director of Tajik Bio-Cultural Initiatives a non-governmental organization dedicated to Tajik arts and environmental issues. In 2013, she wrote and produced the nation's first 3-D animation film, a short designed to promote awareness of environmental issues among children. Previously, she has produced several cultural DVDs archiving Tajik dance and biocultural diversity; was a Field Production Manager on the documentary Buzkashi! By Najeeb Mirza (Canada); from 1999-2005 was the manager of Gurminj Museum. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Turin, Italy and an undergraduate degree in Russian Language and Literature. She was a Global Cultural Fellow at the Institute for International Cultural Relations of the University of Edinburgh in 2017-18 and participated in Central Asian-Azerbaijan (CAAFP) fellowship program at the George Washington University at Elliott School of International affairs in 2019.

Read her article: 2019 CURATOR'S CHOICE, NUDE ART AS A MIRROR OF SOCIETY

Katharina Wiedlack

Katharina Wiedlack is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Department of English and American Studies, Humboldt University Berlin. Her research fields are primarily queer and feminist theory, popular culture, postsocialist, decolonial and disability studies. Currently, she is working on a research project focused on the construction of Russia, LGBTIQ+ issues and dis/ability within Western media. http://katharinawiedlack.com

Read her article: IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO MAKE FILMS QUEERLY THAN TO MAKE QUEER FILMS

Олексій Кучанський

Олексій Кучанський - дослідник і критик експериментального кіно та відео-мистецтва, есеїст. Живе і працює у Києві. Цікавиться політиками комунікативного експериментування, екософією Ф. Ґваттарі, не-есенціалістською екологічною теорією, постгуманістичним фемінізмом, процесуально-орієнтованою філософією. Колишній учасник активістської ініціативи Occupy Kyiv Cinemas - руху проти комерціалізації і знищення комунальних кінотеатрів Києва. Співавтор художнього проекту komaxa. щоденник резистентності - лабораторії молекулярного страйку в умовах цифрової праці.

Читайте його статтю: КАМУФЛЯЖ. ПЕДАГОГІКА КСЕНОФІЛІЇ

 

Kundry Reif

Kundry Reif is an aspiring curator, artist and cultural sciences academic.

Read her articles: I am not toilet paper, ARTISTS FROM CENTRAL ASIA (EDITORS PICK)

People

Ira Konyukhova

Ira Konyukhova is an artist, writer and instagram feminist activist. She studied Physics in Moscow and fine art in Mainz, Reykjavik and Media Art and Media Theory at Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (HFG), which she finished with diploma in 2017. In her practice, she explores the connection between female sexuality, pop-resilience and colonial technological practices which are embodied mainly but not only in video, sculpture and installation. Her works have been presented on various international festivals and exhibitions, including DocLisboa, Athens Biennale, Teneriffa Espacio del Arte, Exground Film Festival e.t. Konyukhova was a grantee of Rhineland-Palatinate Media and Film Promotion Prize, BS Projects Residence Program as well ifa travel grant.

Ina Hildebrandt

Ina Hildebrandt is an art historian and cultural journalist. Born in Kazakhstan, she grew up as a so-called Russian-German in the south of Germany. After spending years of total assimilation she developed a strong interest in her cultural roots. Several long travels and stays took her to Easter-Europe over Russia to Central-Asia. Thereby she started to focus more on those regions also as art historian and journalist. She lives and works in Berlin. 

Tamara Khasanova

Tamara Khasanova is an emerging art professional and aspiring young curator. Born in Ukraine into a Ukrainian-Uzbek family, and later moving to the UK and the US early in life, she was exposed to various social dynamics while perceiving everything through the lens of her cultural legacy. This experience led her to question ideas surrounding cultural hegemony, national identity, and globalisation in the context of Post-Socialist states. In her professional and academic practice, she is concerned with a lack of representation of Eastern European and Central Asian regions on a large scale and committed to developing a sustainable dialogue between parts of the world so dear to her heart. Currently, she is doing a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Studio Art in San Francisco, CA. She starts her M.A. program in Curatorial Practice at the School of Visual Arts, New York this Fall.

Pavel Metelitsyn

Pavel Metelitsyn is a software engineer and developer focusing on interactive data presentation, user interfaces and web technologies. He is driven by the idea of making the information more accessible through interactivity and gamification. Working together with creative agencies he implemented interactive multimedia stations for Neues Historisches Museum, Frankfurt/Main, made a kiosk app for a permanent exhibition at Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, Frankfurt/Main. Besides that, he works with a wide range of clients from FinTech Startups to national research institutions, helping them to collect, process and present the business information. Pavel holds an M.Sc. in Mathematics.

Sascia Reibel

Sascia Reibel is a graphic and product designer. Her focus lays on printed matter, especially books and posters, with a strong dedication for typography. She engages in projects within the field of culture, art, and education. She studies communication design at the University of Art and Design Karlsruhe and has also studied in the design master program of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China. Her work has been honoured with several awards, including «Most Beautiful Swiss Books», «Most Beautiful Books from all over the world», «Bronze Nail, ADC», as well as the «Badge of Typographic Excellence, TDC New York.

Thibaut de Ruyter

Thibaut de Ruyter is a French architect, curator and critic who lives and works in Berlin since 2001. In the last ten years, he has organized exhibitions at Kunstmuseum Bochum, Museum Kunstpalais Düsseldorf, Museum of Applied Arts in Frankfurt, HMKV in Dortmund, EIGEN + ART Lab and CTM in Berlin, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź and CRP/ in Douchy-les -Mines. One of his latest projects is a travelling exhibition co-curated with Inke Arns for the Goethe-Institut: « The Border », that calls into question the dividing line between Asia and Europe in the former Soviet states. Since 2017 this exhibition was exhibited in St Petersburg, Moscow, Tashkent, Almaty, Krasnoyarsk (u.A.) and ended its trip in Erevan in 2019. His areas of interest range from new media to spiritism via "exhibitions that are not exhibitions". Most of his projects are related to everyday, pop or underground culture. He has been the German correspondent for the French magazine artpress since 2003.

Iryna Dzhava

Iryna Dzhava is a teacher, translator, cultural project manager and marketing specialist. Her vision is better and accessible education to everyone. She is emphasizing the importance of the Humanities in our education. Iryna is interested in art and literature. She is the one to show you, how to create your very first etching picture and to inspire you to look deeper into the biographies of some famous people of the last century. Iryna was collaborating with TransitoryWhite as a UX- and marketing adviser between January and October 2020.

 

Chinara Majidova

Chinara Majidova graduated from the International Law Department of Baku State University in 2010 and has since worked as a writer, painter and video artist. She has been a contributing photojournalist and writer for the Ajam Media Collective, working on projects such as Mehelle charting the disappearance of the historic Baku district called Sovetski, and for Chai Khana, a multimedia platform covering diverse events and issues in the South Caucasus. She has also participated in a number of local and international group exhibitions spanning art and journalism and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Cultural Heritage Policy and Management at the Central European University in Vienna. Chinara was doing an internship at TransitoryWhite in July 2020.

Daria Prydybailo

Daria Prydybailo is a curator, researcher, founder of the TRSHCHN platform and co-founder of the NGO Art Matters Ukraine. Her background includes +7 years in leading cultural institutions of Ukraine such as National museum complex Art Arsenal and CCA PinchukArtCentre, as well as independent curatorial practice with a strong focus on the body in contemporary art, sensual turn, sound art, and in-situ projects. She worked on large-scale international projects such as International forum Art Kyiv, the First Kyiv Biennale of contemporary art ARSENALE 2012, and Ukrainian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale. Daria was working with TransitoryWhite as an editor and advisor on Ukrainian art scene since December 2019 till October 2020.

Willi Reinecke

Willi Reinecke is a film director, writer, and researcher on Lev Vygotsky's Psychology of Art at the Institute for East European Studies (Freie Universität Berlin). He is teaching at Szondi-Institute for Comparative Literature and Institute for East European Studies. He worked as assistant director of the documentary film "Familienleben" which premiered at Berlinale 2018. The film was nominated for German Documentary Film Award and was awarded prizes at Saratov Sufferings Festival (RU) and Neisse Filmfestival (GER). He's currently working on documentary films for Institute of Contemporary Art Yerevan and Deutsche Gesellschaft e.V. Willi was collaborating with TransitoryWhite as editor and adviser since March 2019 till July 2020.

Sholpan Zhanuzakova

After a 20 year career in the global corporate sector, Sholpan gained an MA Degree in Contemporary Art in 2017. She is based in London and is currently an independent researcher. Her trans-disciplinary research interests include Industrial Colonization of Kazakhstan and The Effects of Colonialism on Language. Sholpan holds an MBA Degree and consults in Art & Business Strategy & Communications. She worked at the Education Department of documenta 14 in 2017. Sholpan holds a university degree in Language Studies as well. Sholpan was helping with sales strategy in November 2020.

26th October 2020

Тайный музей профсоюзного и рабочего движения

article

Алексей Борисёнок
ru

8th October 2020

Надия Кааби-Линке. Возвращение к себе

interview

ru

1st October 2020

Aqil Abdullayev ilə müsahibə

interview

az

28th September 2020

Snap Out of The Past

interview

Interview with Agil Abdullayev
en

24th September 2020

Unfinished protest

interview

en

8th September 2020

День имеет право на конец

article

Вика Кравцова
ru

26th August 2020

Центр постсовесткой реабилитации

interview

ru

18th August 2020

Belarus streikt - Brief an die Arbeiter*innen

article

Anatoli Ulyanov
de

15th August 2020

Зварот культурных работніц і работнікаў Беларусі

article

by

14th August 2020

Within the borders

article

Olga Davydik
en

13th August 2020

Спусковой механизм

article

Антонина Стебур
ru

6th August 2020

МОЯ ВАГИНА. СВОБОДА ЕЕ ГОЛОСА

article

Галины Рымбу. Алина Копица.
ru

23rd July 2020

Adieu, Utopia

interview

Interview with Diana U
en

14th July 2020

Solidarity Asunder

article

Alex Fisher
en

8th July 2020

The Presence of Absence

article

Nadia Tsulukidze
en/ge

1st July 2020

The reality of real bodies

article

Sasha Shestakova
en

30th June 2020

THERE IS MORE THAN ONE GARAGE IN THE WORLD

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
en

26th June 2020

18 мая

article

Рух Зильберштерн
ru

18th June 2020

The Other East

article

Alexey Ulko
en

15th June 2020

Бумеранг колонизации

article

Виктория Кравцова
ru

9th June 2020

Hiding in a plain Sight

article

Sasha Shestakova
en

7th June 2020

Не-чужеродность чужих

article

Ира Конюхова
ru

6th June 2020

Аварийное оповещение

article

Тамара Хасанова
ru

5th June 2020

Вагітні революцією, взаємопов'язані та взаємозалежні

article

Дар'я Придибайло
ua

28th May 2020

ARTISTS FROM CENTRAL ASIA

text-only

our very special and very well selected editors pick
en

21st May 2020

Zero Line Of Sight

interview

Interview with Bella Sabirova
en

14th May 2020

PULLING OURSELVES OUT OF THE SWAMP

article

By Meder Akhmetov, Darina Manasbek, Philipp Reichmuth
en

5th May 2020

SLIT YOUR THROAT IN A SEMI-FICTIONAL FOG

article

Alex Fisher
en

30th April 2020

I am not toilet paper

interview

Conversation with Moldavian artist Tatiana Fiodorova
en

21st April 2020

Nude Art as a Mirror of Society

article

Lolisanam Ulugova
en

17th April 2020

Exit from the Colony Farewell to the Empire

article

Lesia Prokopenko
en

14th April 2020

Камуфляж. Педагогіка ксенофілії

article

Олексій Кучанський
ua

7th April 2020

The last sparks

article

Ivan Isaev
en

6th April 2020

Leah Peirce

article

en

29th March 2020

Трансграничная миграция заботы

article

пандемия после 8 марта
Мария Дмитриева
ru

25th March 2020

Transboundary migration of care

article

pandemia after 8th of March
Mariya Dmitrieva
en

9th March 2020

(It would be) NICE TO MEET YOU, TOO

article

Anna Kamay and Melikset Panosian
en

5th March 2020

Open Letter by PinchukArtCentre Trade Union members

article

en

26th February 2020

The shift of the paradigm in modern Central Asian art

article

Alexey Ulko
en

4th February 2020

Embrace Your Antithesis

interview

Interview with Slavs and Tatars
en

1st February 2020

Chakras of Tbilisi

article

Laura Arena
en

29th January 2020

2019 Curator's choice

article

en

17th January 2020

On the loop

interview

Interview with Gago Gagoshidze
en

23rd December 2019

"Мы сёння знаходзімся ў іншай вытворчай драме"

interview

Работай Больше! Отдыхай Больше!
by

5th December 2019

Another production drama

interview

Interview with WORK HARD! PLAY HARD! working group
en

20th November 2019

Wandering poetics of Central Asian mestizas

interview

Interview with Krëlex Zentre
en

6th November 2019

Conversation with Julieta Aranda and Anna Kamay

interview

en

1st November 2019

Über die Sprache der Vorherrschaft

interview

ein Gespräch mit Medina Bazargali
de

29th October 2019

Where the roses grow

interview

Interview with Almagul Menlibaeva
en

25th October 2019

On language of supremacy: Medina Bazargali in conversation

interview

en

10th October 2019

Madina Tlostanova on decolonizing the post-Soviet, exotization and political imagination(s)

interview

part two
en

1st October 2019

There Is Sex After Soviet Union! (German)

article

Ira Konyukhova
de

26th September 2019

Madina Tlostanova on feminism, coloniality, returned pasts and reimagined futures

interview

part one
en

6th September 2019

It is more important to make films queerly than to make queer films

interview

en

1st July 2019

Juggling Dinosaurs

article

The precariousness of motherhood in arts
Anna Kamay
en

24th June 2019

Interview with Elene Abashidze

interview

en

14th June 2019

Unfortunately, we cannot pay for your flight and accommodation

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
en

28th May 2019

Ich liebe dich!

article

Antonina Stebur
de

17th May 2019

Interview with Anna Vahrami

interview

en

23rd April 2019

Artist Portrait: Anastasia Akhvlediani

portrait

en

13th April 2019

Artist Portrait: Alisa Berger

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
en

21st March 2019

Faig Ahmed

interview

de

18th March 2019

There Is Sex After Soviet Union!

article

Irina Konyukhova
en

11th March 2019

Interview mit Samvel Saghatelian

interview

de

8th March 2019

Artist Portrait: Salome Dumbadze

portrait

en

4th March 2019

Interview mit Chinara Majidova

interview

Klang des Brunners vor einer Fassade
de

26th February 2019

East Wind - Art in the Former Soviet Republics

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
en
Kamee Abrahamyan, Berjouhi, from Herstories of Divine Love collection, mixed media, 2018
Armenia Art Fair by curator Teresa Davtyan
the Biazmezhniki (People Without Limits) exhibition, curated by Anna Karpenko and Sophia Sadovskaya
photo by Siarhiej Ždanovič
"Arm wrestling" Photo installation, digital printing by Alexey Rumyantsev
“Gender Inequality Through the Prism of Contemporary Art” project
Booth Pride Art Advisory
Armenia Art Fair 2019
Exhibition view of Saodat Ismailova's Qo'rg'on chiroq
Center for Contemporary Arts Tashkent
Paradigm of White Horse, Oil on canvas, 165x180 cm, 1986-88, Vyacheslav Akhunov
Central Exhibition Hall Tashkent

NB: This material may contain terms, which are not favored by all the parties of the Nagorno Karabakh dispute/conflict. The author is responsible for the terms used. 

 

What was happening in the art world in 2019 besides Bauhaus, Venice and Istanbul Biennials? Quite a lot if we turn our gaze to the east. Central Asia, in particular, was a hot zone. Kazakhstan made headlines not only with demonstrations around the new presidential elections but also with the shattered dream of being represented in Venice with its own pavilion. in Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek, the first major feminist exhibition caused a scandal. We asked curators from Azerbaijan to Uzbekistan to sum up for us the developments and highlights in the art scene of their home countries.

 

Armenia

Kamee Abrahamyan, Berjouhi, from Herstories of Divine Love collection, mixed media, 2018
Armenia Art Fair by curator Teresa Davtyan

Curator Anna Kamay

 

2019 was a busy year full of art events and happenings most of which naturally took place in the capital city of Yerevan. In an attempt to promote street art and make the capital more colourful, the year started off with the first Urban Art Fest, sponsored by Goethe Institut among others, resulting in some controversial works, proving that institutionalized graffiti art is always problematic.  

The second edition of Armenia Art Fair had a rich event program(including some designed for children) alongside the exhibition and the represented artworks were fresh and diverse, hosting 35 galleries from different countries including Armenia, Belarus, Iran, Ukraine, UK and USA. Notably, 4Plus collective exhibited some breathtaking images, such as Anahit Hayrapetyan’s Grandmother with Cabbage. Curators Lizzy Vartanian(Gallery Girl) exhibited a fresh display of collages by Luska and Ripsy May, while curator Tereza Davtyan showcased a selection of impressive artworks by Kamee Abrahamian, Vanane Borian and Gohar Sargsyan among others.

While the local art world is known for being mostly visual, 2019 was the year where everything turned audio, including podcasts about feminism such as Ականջօղ/ Akanjogh and online radios broadcasting experimental music from the region like Bohemnots Radio. This year also saw an abundance of electronic music events in town. The flourishing scene has been flourishing with new venues such as Poligraf and commercial festivals like Urvakan and Synthposium. Seems like after Tbilisi and Baku, Yerevan is slowly becoming a hotspot for emerging electronic and experimental music such as Symptom and Teenage Error.

While the public debates over the meaning and direction of the “Velvet Revolution” were getting heated in 2019, dividing the population into pro and counter-revolutionaries, it was the public performance “Հուզանք ու Զանք” that became the climax of the clash, when a group of far-right activists attacked the artists during the performance. The Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports also has come under fire from self-proclaimed defenders of national values for funding this project. 

 

Belarus

the Biazmezhniki (People Without Limits) exhibition, curated by Anna Karpenko and Sophia Sadovskaya
photo by Siarhiej Ždanovič

Curator and researcher Antonina Stebur 

 

There are several trends in Belarus contemporary art. The first of them was to analysis of artistic practice and understanding of working conditions. The project STATUS: The Role of the Artist in the Changing of Society was collective research in which artists, critics, curators and other cultural workers reflected on their working conditions, cultural policy, precarious labour and etc. An important result of the project was the STATUS book, which included analytical articles about these issues.

The second tendency was the series exhibition, articles and researches dedicated to inclusion excluded topic. The most important and the largest event was the Biazmezhniki (People Without Limits) exhibition (curated by Anna Karpenko and Sophia Sadovskaya). The exhibition worked with the theme of outsider art, showing how certain areas of art are excluded, thrown out of the boundaries of the official history of art.

"Arm wrestling" Photo installation, digital printing by Alexey Rumyantsev
“Gender Inequality Through the Prism of Contemporary Art” project

Among the most interesting exhibitions and events in the art field was the Alesia Zhitkevich solo-exhibition Closer than paradise, traditional week of events Work Ward! Play Hard!, the Month of Photography in Minsk that has become a truly contemporary art statement. 

As before, the two most active cities on the contemporary art’s map were Minsk and Brest. The main activity in Brest took place around the KH gallery, as well as a new Olga Maslovskaya’s project. She created the exhibition space right in the shed.

 

Kazakhstan

 

Art historian Saltanat Shoshanova

 

2019 was expected to be a groundbreaking year for the art scene of Kazakhstan but turned out to be full of international faux pas and corruption scandals. In March, just two months before the opening of the Biennale the National Museum of Kazakhstan has cancelled what supposed to be a  first-ever Kazakhstani pavilion. The reason that was named behind the cancellation was “a lack of money and procedural issues”. As a result, a curatorial team that worked on the pavilion for half a year was not paid, artists who have been involved sustain losses, and Rosa Abenova, head of contemporary art department at the National Museum, resigned which led to the complete shut-down of the department. 

The other international project that ended up with a corruption scandal was Focus Kazakhstan, which took place from September 2018 to March 2019 in four cities of London, Berlin, Suwon, and Jersey City and showcased more than 90 artists and 400 artworks. The art shows went great and received praise from the international public. However, the company that was hired by the National Museum to manage the organizing of the exhibitions and handle the payments to curators, artists and transportation companies is reportedly in debt of nearly 50.000 Euro. As a result, hundreds of artworks were confiscated by unpaid contractors, among them artworks by the prominent Kazakh art collective Kyzyl Tractor. To this date, the problem has not been solved yet. 

 

Curator Julia Sorokina

 

The year 2018 was marked by the state program Focus Kazakhstan, which was held in London, Berlin, New Jersey (near New York) and Suvon (near Seoul). The exhibitions, which represented Kazakhstan's contemporary art of the 20th and 21st centuries, were held at an appropriate level, showed much unfamiliar art and aroused interest among the international public. Unfortunately, due to the incompetence of Kazakhstani culture officials, the projects could not be completed correctly - some works by contemporary artists and even several paintings from the collection of the National Museum of Kazakhstan were detained at the customs due to non-payment to logistics companies. 

In 2019, the Art Visit Agency managed to convince the Department of Culture of the need to promote contemporary art in the country's regional centres and as a result, a travelling exhibition Stories of the Great Steppe was held in the cities of Shymkent, Taraz and Taldykorgan. The exhibitions gathered about 35 thousand visitors in each city and were the first modern art shows in the capital cities.

Against the background of the re-election of the President of the country and the illegitimate conditions of the election procedures in 2019, young representatives of the art community of Kazakhstan held several activist actions, which ended in short-term arrests of participants. The most high-profile action was the demonstration of a collective statement - the slogan "You can't run away from the truth", deployed during an international running marathon in the streets of Almaty.  

 

Nagorno-Karabakh

 

Curator Anna Kamay

 

In October 2019 the 2nd edition of international contemporary art festival Artsakh Fest dubbed Nakhshun Baji took place inside the abandoned drama theatre building in Stepanakert, the capital of the internationally unrecognized territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The region has been afflicted by a war for decades, and as a result of negligence, the theatre building was abandoned for more than eight years now. 

 

For the second year in a row the building was transformed by artists' interventions into space, installations, performances, and workshops, all in an attempt to bring the theatre which used to be the heart of the community, not only back to life, but tackle the region’s wartime trauma. The presented artworks included Anush Ghukasyan’s ceramic sculptures resembling phallic symbols and Davit Kochunts’ series of pornographic paintings depicting the phallocentrism of the society.

 

Tajikistan

Cultural Manager Lolisanam Ulug

 

2019 went smoothly in compare to 2018 in Tajikistan, when a provocative exhibition of Marifat Davlatova, a visual artist resonated a huge rage for depicting half-naked figures, that the Minister of Culture in 2019 reacted it as “a breach of national traditions.” 

Last year also was marked with the state festival-contest Chakomai Gesu (Song of the Curl), that celebrated feminine beauties; the ethno-jazz festival, the against Torture Campaign, and the release of the first audiobook of folk tales in Tajik and Pamir languages. The Bob Music Prize produced a hero named Chorshanbe Alovatov, who led a list of Central Asia’s Got Talent show in December in Almaty. The next edition of the Didor festival changed its trajectory providing a contest among Tajik documentary filmmakers, and it was a first time when the state educational the institution (State College of Culture named after Buidokov) finally look at the problem of melting glaciers by producing a performance to highlight the issue. One more festival was born in Tajikistan: Golden Tulip Tajik Film Festival and the EU Delegation to Tajikistan initiated the exhibition Colliding Worlds: Escapism + Futurism in Central Asia’s- Rising Artists giving voice to young talents from the country to self-expression.

 

Artist Alla Rumyantseva

 

In 2019 the project Gender Inequality Through the Prism of Contemporary Art was launched in Tajikistan. The objective of the project was to enable young artists, activists, and everyone to speak out on gender inequality. This topic is very important and relevant to Tajikistan. It is symptomatic that in parallel with Tajikistan similar projects have been launched in neighbouring countries like To be a Woman in Baku and Feminnale in Bishkek (both projects caused a strong public outcry).

Compared with the art-works presented at exhibitions in Baku and Bishkek, the works of Tajikistan’s participants were not provocative and veiled. It is completely natural for Tajik and for Persian art, in general, to hide messages in ornate forms. Moreover, there is a high level of censorship in the country.

Besides that, more than 350 people took part in the meetings, discussions, and debates resulting in the formation of a creative group of 12 artists, activists, students, journalists and researchers.

In February 2020, a large exhibition will open in which artists will participate to discuss the topic of gender inequality.

 

Ukraine

Booth Pride Art Advisory
Armenia Art Fair 2019

Curator Daria Prydybailo

 

A long-running war that is still going on in Eastern Ukraine and economic instability make society feel insecure. Turbulence is still strong and it is therefore hard to plan or build long-term strategies, also in the cultural field. 

Many artists and curators create projects that reflect on the memory of the Revolution in 2014 and reopen cultural phenomena from the past. The last couple of years the Ukrainian society in general and cultural sector, in particular, became more proactive and since the new government started supporting culture, more independent and experimental projects became possible. 

In 2019 Ukraine became more visible on the international art scene thanks to the Ukrainian Institute that was founded in 2018 and started to work in 2019. The bilateral Cultural Year #AustriaUkraine2019 brought together the creative potential of both countries and thereby facilitated stronger cultural and scientific cooperation between Austria and Ukraine. Besides literature and music program, a large-scale exhibition of contemporary art Between Fire and Fire was opened at the gallery Semperdepot in Vienna. 

The National Pavilion of Ukraine at the 58th Venice Biennale A shadow of “Dream” cast upon Giardini della Biennale had a really impressive concept, but unfortunately weak implementation. The Ukrainian aeroplane AN-225 called Mriya, the biggest aeroplane in the world, had to fly over Venice and overshadow for a minute the gardens of Giardini. Instead the curators Open Group just made the story of the flight, closing the myth. The shadow couldn’t be seen because there was no Mriya, as promised, so the project didn’t live up to expectations and became a post-truth farce.

In 2019 the Permanent Revolution about the last 100 years of Ukrainian art by author Alisa Lozhkina was published in Ukrainian (and soon in French).

A couple of years ago, the Ukrainian government started investing money into contemporary culture. The biggest state-owned institution, the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation, aims to facilitate the development of culture and arts in Ukraine. The UCF supports projects within the framework of international cooperation, so international organisations and their partners are welcome in Ukraine and receive support from UCF.

The biggest cultural institution Mystetskyi Arsenal continues to make personal exhibitions of iconic Ukrainian contemporary artists and in 2019 it was Oleg Golosiy. Non-stop painting, curated by Oleksandr Soloviov who worked with Golosiy in 1980-90s personally.

The second Biennale of Young Art Looks Like I’m Entering our Garden took place in Kharkiv showing the perspective of the new generation in the Ukrainian visual artists. 

Definitely not only cultural institutions in Kyiv but in other Ukrainian cities and villages should be mentioned. Ukraine always had strong and original art schools in Kharkiv, Lviv, Odessa. Especially interesting nowadays are the photography schools in Kharkiv and Mykolaiv. But the most resonating independent project was Museum is Closed for the Renovation at the Kmytiv Museum of Soviet Art. An art museum housed in a Brutalist building in the village of Kmytiv that is located 100 kilometres West of Kyiv and has a collection of Socialist Realism. A series of exhibitions were organized by Yevgeniya Molyar and Leo Trotsenko from the DENEDE collective, and curated by Nikita Kadan.

 

Uzbekistan

Exhibition view of Saodat Ismailova's Qo'rg'on chiroq
Center for Contemporary Arts Tashkent

Curator and artist Alexey Ulko

 

The international exhibition Die Grenze supported by the Goethe Institute and curated by Thibaut de Ruyter and Inke Arns opened the year in Uzbekistan. The show addressed the issue of cultural and physical borders between Europe and Asia, quite controversial and ambiguous in the post-Soviet space.

In March, the multidisciplinary project Man on a Stool brought together musicians, poets and performers from four cities of Uzbekistan to the Youth Theatre in Tashkent. It summed up the six-months’ training and creative work run by Ashot Danielyan and his team supported by the Swiss Embassy.

In April, the Arts and Culture Development Fund held a pre-opening of the Centre for Contemporary Art and a large video exhibition Lamp on a Hill by Saodat Ismailova dedicated to different aspects of the history of Central Asian culture.

ZERO Line Gallery continued its series of small but thought-provoking exhibitions and educational events while the gallery Bonum Factum hosted a week-long seminar on Central Asian identities involving a number of top curators and art critics from the region in October.

One of the most interesting exhibitions held at the Central Exhibition Hall was the show featuring paintings by Uzbek graduates of different Russian art schools during the Soviet time. Some of these pieces were never or seldom exhibited due to their openly Soviet message after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But with times changing, they found their way back to the public. 

Paradigm of White Horse, Oil on canvas, 165x180 cm, 1986-88, Vyacheslav Akhunov
Central Exhibition Hall Tashkent

Finally, the British Council supported a series of seminars and workshops for art and culture managers from Central Asian countries which marked an important step in the integration of the regional art world.

 

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