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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 eine Kuratorin und Forscherin. Studium der Bild- und Kulturwissenschaften an der European Humanities University (Vilnius, Litauen) und an der School of Engaged Art der Kunstgruppe “Chto Delat?” (Sankt Petersburg, Russland). Sie ist Mitglied der Künstlergruppe #damaudobnayavbytu (“Frau, die bequem im Alltag ist”), die die feministische Agenda im russischen und weisrussischen Kontext untersucht. Sie war Kuratorin einer Reihe von Ausstellungen in Belarus, Russland, Polen, Frankreich und China. Ihre Forschungsgebiete und kuratorischen Interessen sind: Gemeinschaft, Um-Zusammenstellung alltäglicher Praktiken, feministische Kritik, neue Sensibilität, Basisinitiativen.

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

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.

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.

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.

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. During 2013-2015 she curated online-platform & collective of artists, curators and writers  (wo)manorial, who contemplate the ever-changing concept of femininity. Her latest research is focused on love and intimacy in the context of emotional capitalism. Originally from Kyiv currently she lives and works in Berlin. 

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.

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.

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.

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
Installation view of the one-day research exposition, "Gesture-Gesture" 2018
Courtesy of the Art Collective CI
Research exhibition "Images of Emancipation" & Bishkek Covid 19 emergency, 2020
Courtesy of the Art Collective CI
Guide-zine "Images of emancipation", chapter #femgraphy/unrealized promises, 2020
Courtesy of the Art Collective CI
Guide-zine "Images of emancipation", chapter #femgraphy/unrealized promises, 2020
Courtesy of the Art Collective CI
Installation view of the research exhibition, "Images of Emancipation" 2020
Courtesy of the Art Collective CI
Целинницы, 1968 by Lydia Ilyina, linocut - was on view as part of the Exhibition "Art & Emancipation: O. Manuilova and her contemporaries" 2015
Courtesy of the Art Collective CI
Installation view of the multimedia research installation "Blue Pass" 2019
Courtesy of the Art Collective CI

This interview is a glimpse of Diana U's personal journey through her complex experience of being simultaneously a curator, artist and researcher based in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She shares with us her concerns and feelings of affinity toward local present-day issues, which she finds extremely relevant to tackle, that span from feminism to colonial relations. While reflecting on her ways of dealing with them, she emphasizes the approach of looking at the local and incorporating practice-based as opposed to mere theory-based methods of inquiry. 

Victoria Kravtsova

As an artist and curator, you combine different approaches and modes of thinking in your practice. How would you define your curatorial practice? 

Diana U

It is not an easy question, and to answer it is even more challenging. My response always varies, because there are permanent internal work, transformations and constant questions to myself that relate to the practical modes of work, my mental and emotional reflections of the practice.

Installation view of the one-day research exposition, "Gesture-Gesture" 2018
Courtesy of the Art Collective CI

 

Being an artist, curator, and researcher I formulate my approach as constant conceptually developing exploration, focusing on an intelligible, emotional, body experience that I get during the project and search for ways for its sensual, mostly visual, representation. There is a combination of long-term research, narrative-visual linear or non-linear storytelling, and public events (mostly exhibition or installation-based). It is our collective approach either because I am part of it, and each of us put their piece into the whole project.

Research exhibition "Images of Emancipation" & Bishkek Covid 19 emergency, 2020
Courtesy of the Art Collective CI

 

For now, I am exploring my experience of being a woman, cultural actor with sociological education and experience of female socialization in concrete space and time from the political perspective. I look for ways to develop my practice based on my interests in artistic research, memory studies, feminism, female art, and activist history of Kyrgyzstan, experimental exhibition and publications.

Victoria Kravtsova

How does your feministic vision assist with a way you conceptualize your ideas?

Diana U

Feminism was one of the first concepts with the help of which I began to look at the world more critically. Through feminism, I acquired the skill of reflexivity. I was emancipated by the combination of feminism and contemporary art. 

Victoria Kravtsova

Do you identify with any particular current of feminism?

Diana U

No. I am in a constant search. For me, feminism was always linked to leftist politics. But until today I am in a complicated relationship with my leftness, I feel generally uncomfortable with the division into left, right and all that, because this self-dissection cuts out and neglects other important parts of your wholeness, which I want to keep in communication and self-perception. Perhaps in the future, something will happen that will help us leave these narrow categories. I know it is a utopia, and I know I will have to continue living within a capitalist system in any case. Communism might be a good option for utopian visions, but it is not suitable for this life. These days it can only cause schizophrenia. Also, leftist organizations can be very sexist. Although I can’t wrap my head around the fact that, for instance, such a thing as right-wing feminism can exist.  

Victoria Kravtsova

As with any theoretical concept, there is a need to analyze it through the lens of the locality. Do you think that the same applies to feminist ideas?

Diana U

You can be familiar with all these currents and understand that this is a Western category, therefore in the local context you have to learn to work with it…not totally rejecting it as something foreign, but rather adapting it to the conditions of the society in which you live. Personally, I have only recently understood that feminism is an ideology. The feminist lens gives you an opportunity to live with less feeling of fragility towards the world, as you understand that it is not solely your individual struggle, it is a dynamic and intertwined system of different lines. It is an instrument that helps you to live in a patriarchal situation.

Guide-zine "Images of emancipation", chapter #femgraphy/unrealized promises, 2020
Courtesy of the Art Collective CI

 

Also, after we as an art collective had a chance to work on  projects in the regions there is a new line of thought I live with. A new point of self-reflection came from speaking to those we generally do not address, like women from the local committee of health who said  “sure, you will go now and forget everything”. You understand that in art as well as in feminism your positions derive from theory and your experience of being a Bishkek urban woman who works in the cultural sector for the last 10 years. You begin reflecting on your position, learning more about your own country, advancing  your sensitivity and recognition of self in more complex local contemporaneity. 

Victoria Kravtsova

From the historical point of view, such localization of liberating ideas wasn’t always possible due to the complex colonial relations between the center and the periphery. How do you think this applies to Kyrgyzstan and feminist ideas you are currently concerned with?  

Diana U

The first exhibition I co-curated with my female friends-colleagues revolved around ideas of feminism Art and Emancipation: O. Manuilova and Her Contemporaries about the period of emancipation in the 1920s-30s and representation of women as active society actors later in works of soviet female artists Olga Manuilova and Lydia Ilyina in Kyrgyzstani art history. I invested a lot into this project, and the text I wrote for it and after is still crucial for myself. 

Guide-zine "Images of emancipation", chapter #femgraphy/unrealized promises, 2020
Courtesy of the Art Collective CI

 

I understand how complex, how repressive the soviet legacy was. But I also acknowledge that what I do now as an artist is partly due to that legacy. Russia was the centre, it saw itself as one, it engaged in enlightening and creating infrastructure here, and through this, a lot of Western forms have come – and art as well. Soviet art was different, but its form and medium were still Western. 

Victoria Kravtsova

And what kind of coloniality do you feel today?

Diana U

There is self-colonization that happens through Western art, for instance, and references to the actual Western processes and practices. When referring to myself as a contemporary artist, I put myself into a situation where I always try to get rid of this instant looking back on the West, but the language and the categories (contemporary art) I refer to admittedly derive from there (from the west). Regularly we meet people who openly call themselves ‘white’ and say that they have come to teach us. The books we read are all written by Western authors. Unfortunately, those texts will never be able to convey our experiences, including the entire range of post-Soviet studies literature - there are so few people from the region! Maybe we need to turn to ourselves first, keeping in mind our point of action, views, situation and try to recognize others' experiences from this sensitivity.

 

If one is to understand decolonization as looking at the local, then this is what we try to do here. We attempt to approach this issue not from the side of terminology and desire to see ourselves from a theoretical lens, but rather from the practical one, based on the formation of our vision, voices and voices of people, nature, objects, emotions and ideas we encounter. Two years ago, we started to go out and observed that things do not work as we expected them to. In Osh, we intended to speak about the right to the city, and came to the conclusion that the form that we chose does not work. That instead we need to adapt to the situation. 

Installation view of the research exhibition, "Images of Emancipation" 2020
Courtesy of the Art Collective CI

 

In 2019 we decided to change our tactic. We went out to regions not to “teach” and practice art, but to speak to people, get acquainted with their life and work experiences, emotional, geographical and knowable landscapes they live in. And created artworks based on these investigations of the country, people and ourselves. Is it colonialism to take this kind of material for your art? The answer for myself today is that here we see ourselves as citizens exploring the environment, speaking the language of art, referring to our research ethic and my feminist sensitivity (as much as I feel it) in communication.

Victoria Kravtsova

How critical is it for you as a collective to engage with the topic of decolonization?

Diana U

It is a crucial inner question for all of us. But at the moment we as a collective do not want to deal with the subject of decolonization as pure theory. We had conversations about this last year during a project on identity when we tried to understand the symbolic significance or not of the several monuments in Bishkek. 

 

In 2018 we did an informal educational elective open for selected participants with reading-sessions on the art history of soviet Kyrgyzstan. After 4 months of sessions, we curated the one-day exhibition Gesture-Gesture where we presented our work material (handmade timeline with important dates, xerox pictures and our collective notes) alongside the collective art gesture - reflections on the material - almost all books on art were soviet and the Soviet ideology was present in the art history. Hence, you clearly see how the understanding of fine art (my area of work) in the region has colonial origins but also carries its internal artistic agency at the same time.

Целинницы, 1968 by Lydia Ilyina, linocut - was on view as part of the Exhibition "Art & Emancipation: O. Manuilova and her contemporaries" 2015
Courtesy of the Art Collective CI

 

After engaging with local histories, we have turned our gazes onto ourselves. Many of us experienced the existential feeling that stems from our trips to the regions – when we would  see how people live there. The exhibition Blue Pass marked a pivotal moment for all of us. The idea was to transform our collected material based on the feelings and stories we got from the local people, nature and situations into a collage landscape that became a research installation. 

Victoria Kravtsova

How did your practice evolve after your field research and confronting colonial issues within your own practice as an artist and curator?

Diana U

Following Blue Pass, we slightly changed our direction and created the exhibition-laboratory Death. Sadness. Love. It was a four-day series of artist talks, workshops and performances through the lens of love, sadness and death, conversations focused on the art practices in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. This kind of referring to our feelings and fears grounded in the actual political, economic and social situation, our history, possibly, could be a way for internal liberation and, in a certain way, decolonization as practice.

Installation view of the multimedia research installation "Blue Pass" 2019
Courtesy of the Art Collective CI

 

For now, I describe my artistic and research lines of activity as #фемграфия #femgraphy. It is a construction/imagination of femstory, femmemory, femresearch, with references to the female experiences and my personal agency as an art actor based  on the context I live in. As a member of the collective CI as well as an independent practitioner and just a human being, I currently work with memory, female art history of Kyrgyzstan and artistic, activist women approaches. I just completed a guide-zine for the exhibition Images of Emancipation that I did on March 8 of this year, you will be able to find  it on our social networks and our website.

 

Diana U is a cultural actor, curator and researcher who represents the feminist perspective and derives #femgraphy, member of the art collective CI (lab_ci), studied sociology at AUCA, curated and co-curated several exhibitions with feminist agenda, as well as numerous projects as part of the art collective CI (lab_ci).

 

Art collective CI (lab_ci) seeks to address topics of artistic production and research for understanding contemporary socio-cultural processes. Main directions of activity are exhibitions of contemporary art, research-based exhibitions and art projects, film screenings and informal educational programs on artistic approaches. Collective work experience is related to the themes of city, memory, #femgraphy, critical regional studies, history and practice of Soviet and contemporary art in Kyrgyzstan.

 

Editors Ira Konyukhova and Tamara Khasanova.

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