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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.

How to contact us

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

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

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

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

Thibaut de Ruyter

Thibaut de Ruyter is a French curator and critic who lives and works in Berlin since 2001. 

Read his articles: EAST WIND - ART IN THE FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS, UNFORTUNATELY, WE CANNOT PAY FOR YOUR FLIGHT AND ACCOMMODATION, ARTIST PORTRAIT: ALISA BERGER

Asli Samadova

Asli Samadova is a Milan/Baku-based curator and museum specialist experienced working with leading cultural institutions in Europe and the USA on cultural diplomacy, education and exhibition projects. She is the founder of Ta(r)dino 6 alternative art space that promotes contemporary art from Azerbaijan and beyond and is a platform for experiments. Ta(r)dino 6 Venice project brought Turandokht. Radio Riddles to Venice and was the first to present contemporary art from Azerbaijan in a non-institutional environment during the 58th Venice Biennial 2019.

Read her articles: WHEN THERE ARE NO OPPUTURNITIES, CREATE YOUR OWN GIARDINI, INTERIORS, 2019 CURATOR'S CHOICE

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

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

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

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, aspiring young curator and intern at TransitoryWhite since March till August 2020. 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-Social 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.

Kundry Reif

Kundry Reif grew up in Vienna, Austria. Whilst studying cultural studies at university in Berlin she started to work in art collectives and galleries. Last year she went to work at the Goethe Institute in Tashkent, Uzbekistan for a year. Having never heard a lot about Central Asia before, this year abroad sparked her interest. Being back now, she misses Central Asian Kurt, and has decided that her favorite museum of all times is the Sawitsky Museum in Nukus, Uzbekistan. 

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 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 Frontier that calls into question the dividing line between Asia and Europe in the former Soviet states. Since 2017 this exhibition has been exhibited in St Petersburg, Moscow, Tashkent, Almaty, Krasnoyarsk (u.A.) and will open in Erevan in May 2019. His areas of interest range from new media to spiritualism to "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.

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

16th October 2019

Interiors

portrait

Exhibition by Xenia Fink In Ta(r)dino 6 Baku
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

12th July 2019

When there are no opputurnities, create your own Giardini

article

Asli Samadova
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
Third Trimester I, Kamee Abrahamian
Mixed Media Collage, 8x10 cm
Third Trimester II, Kamee Abrahamian
Mixed Media Collage, 8x10 cm
Myrtle, Kamee Abrahamian
Mixed Media Collage, 6x7 cm
Seeds, Kamee Abrahamian
Mixed Media Collage, 16x20 cm

This meeting came about through a facebook post linking a Mexican artist Julieta Aranda who lives in Berlin, and an Armenian curator and activist Anna Kamay. After several conversations via mail and phone, we have finally met with them both to discuss the issues of motherhood and femininity in the arts.

 

TransitoryWhite

Dear Anna and Julieta, thanks for finding time for this conversation! Let’s start talking about Annas current project “Juggling Dinosaurs”. Would you, Anna, introduce the project? Where did the name come from and how it is evolving right now?

Anna Kamay

I’ve been working on this project for a couple of years already. The topic of motherhood is fascinating to me because all of the projects that I ever worked on were based on my personal experience, so I believe the personal is political.

I'm a single mother, and at the same time, I'm a freelancer, which is not a common thing in Armenia. Most of the artists have a secure job together with their art practice because you can’t earn money in Armenia with art - like everywhere else as well, I guess. So, one day I was juggling with my daughter’s plastic dinosaur toys, and my friend Tereza Davtyan, who is a curator, said: "This could be the name of your project!" We were thinking of the dinosaurs, which are the social norms and expectations from women that we have in our society. They are almost extinct, and at the same time, they are so huge. We know we cannot meet up with all these expectations. 

I started my research, and I saw that in Armenia, we don't have many female artists - mostly they are male. Especially after becoming mothers is when women withdraw from the art scene. There is simply no platform for them, where they could be present or would be able to develop their art without being deprived of the possibility to take care of their children.

TransitoryWhite

Do you have any precedents in Armenia/Caucasus with that kind of associations?

Third Trimester I, Kamee Abrahamian
Mixed Media Collage, 8x10 cm

Anna Kamay

In Armenia, we don't have any precedent of self-organised maternal groups. During Electric Yerevan protest in 2015 and the Velvet Revolution in 2018, there were attempts to form a group of parent activists who took turns babysitting their children so that the parents could take part in the demonstrations, but it didn’t become popular. Then, I started looking at other countries in the region, and I still haven’t found anything relatable yet. However, I came across some initiatives in Belarus. There's an art centre in Brest, where mothers in arts unite, and they also curated one project about it. In Ukraine, there is possibly one partner organisation. Now I'm looking for a partner in Poland because in all these countries the situation is the same: post-soviet background, kind of anarchy in terms of social security, no collective consciousness. We don't have this collective unity with numerous communities that exist in Europe. Now, I also started researching initiatives in the West.

I AM VERY VOCAL ABOUT MOTHERHOOD, BECAUSE I DON'T SEE A LOT OF SUPPORT IN THE ART WORLD FOR WOMEN THAT WANT TO HAVE A FAMILY

TransitoryWhite

  

I would like to ask Julieta now that we’re coming to the situation in the Western countries. Julieta, you live in Berlin and raise your child alone. What challenges do you have here?

Julieta Aranda

Having a child, being a single mother is not something that “happened to me”, but something that was done very, very consciously. And before I went ahead with it, while I was researching reproductive technologies, I was pondering a lot: what will happen to my career? And, what kind of effect will motherhood have on my work, and how will I manage to work and to support my child? I tried to calculate and plan, but of course, this is one of those things in life that you can never estimate in its entirety.

Third Trimester II, Kamee Abrahamian
Mixed Media Collage, 8x10 cm

The reality of it is that it is incredibly hard to have a child because it is relentless. It is something that happens all day, every day, and if you are alone, you have to take care of everything. I have to manage to be a balanced human being, to remember to trim my son’s fingernails and to give him love. At the same time, I have to provide myself with love and care, because if I'm unhappy, my son will not be happy either.

TransitoryWhite

How do you deal with all those demands that come to you as an artist and a mother?

Julieta Aranda

I am very vocal about motherhood, because I don't see a lot of support in the art world for women that want to have a family, and it is a situation I want to challenge and change as much as I can. There are a lot of conversations and conferences on interesting social practices and exciting community-based work, but the discussion about something that is as essential to society as bringing up a child just doesn't enter the conversation. It's not even supported in a practical sense. For example, the time for art events is always between 6 and 9 pm. These are the main parenting hours of the day. So you’re invited to an event, but what are you going to do with your child during that time?

Another example:  was recently invited to do a three-month residency in Singapore, and once I accepted the invitation, I was told: "you cannot bring your child". So, what do you expect me to do? Leave a two-year-old child alone for three months?

TransitoryWhite

We’ve seen this much-shared post on facebook about the story with residency in Singapore. How did the situation evolve after you went public with it?

Myrtle, Kamee Abrahamian
Mixed Media Collage, 6x7 cm

Julieta Aranda

Well, I put up a fight with them. And we reached a kind of compromise: I would be allowed to bring my son -but then my residency would be only one-month long instead of three months; I would be responsible for all the expenses related to my son while in Singapore. But after this conversation, I realised that I was not happy and that this particular residency had lost its appeal for me. I was invited to do this residency by people that know me personally, and that know perfectly well my situation as a single mother. And to be asked to leave my child behind became completely unacceptable to me. This is a perfect example of the idea that as a woman (things pertaining to family matters are incredibly gender-based) you have to choose. Being forced to choose and sacrifice one’s personal life for the sake of a potential professional career is something that the art world has never requested of male artists.

I also get upset when meeting me on an art event people ask: "How is your child?".  I know it's very well-intentioned, but I’m here to talk about my work. It's important for me to try to figure out how to create a space where having a child or a family does not become a disadvantage. We are monkeys; we are the kind of animals that thrive on families and groups, so why am I asked to give up my family? To feed the cliché of the artist as a fragile, neurotic and isolated figure? 

TransitoryWhite

There are successful female artists who decide against having children because they want to dedicate their lives to an art career. Particularly for women-artists, there is an unwritten rule: if you want to make a career in art, there is no room for children.

Julietta Aranda

Women disappear from the art scene anyway after they turn 40, regardless of whether they have reproduced or not; as if talent was dependent on fertility. It's not a coincidence that many female artists are beautiful. It has something to do with the economies of desire - Artist Mira Schor has stated formula of the three stages of the woman artist’s life is: “young and naked, still too young, not dead enough”. 

In general, male artists careers have a higher chance to last, while female artists keep being replaced by younger ones. And if these are the odds, I am not interested in giving up my family so that I can belong to a field that will probably forget me once that I reach middle age. 

WOMEN ARE NOT A MINORITY. MOTHERS ARE NOT A MINORITY.

TransitoryWhite

There is another interesting point in the discussion: some artists include their children in their artwork after birth and some switch entirely to the topic of motherhood. In your case, have you changed your artistic approach since you became a mother?

Seeds, Kamee Abrahamian
Mixed Media Collage, 16x20 cm

Julieta Aranda

I don't want to make work about being a parent. I love my son, but my work is not about him. My work has never been about my personal life. But some people have indeed expected that all of a sudden my work is going to become something that it has never been and that I'm going to start making work about my placenta, or something like that...

TransitoryWhite

In 2018 there was a big show in Kunstquartier Bethanien in Berlin about motherhood. What do you think about this particular and other similar initiatives? Do these projects bring us forward to achieve our goal of equality?

Julieta Aranda

I think that women are not a minority. Mothers are not a minority. Everybody has a mother. And this is why I do not want to be relegated to women shows, or mothers-only shows. Motherhood is not a disability that needs to be compensated for. I want to be in exhibitions as an artist, not as a representative of some kind of perceived minority (women/mother/Mexican). The truth is that the art world cannot consider itself inclusive if all successful artists are men. And in order to create a rich, complex, polyphonic artworld, we need to make allowances for the many realities that people live. Not everyone is young, rich, single, white and male. In the set of realities that I inhabit, motherhood takes a lot of space. And I am not an exception; I am one of many. We have seven billion people in the world, so reproduction is something that is happening all the time. To refuse to take these realities into account, while we claim the artworld as a socially and politically engaged field, is irresponsible, in my opinion.

Anna Kamay

It's true that we're not a minority, I agree with you, Julieta and Ira. But throughout history, women were excluded from the discourse, and they had no chance, they were invisible. The topic of womanhood and motherhood was sexualised and brought down to Jesus and Mary. Motherhood was like a taboo topic; it was never there. That is why I think that this exhibition is a good idea. But it shouldn't be an exclusive event; it just has to be present everywhere. We need to start somewhere. And maybe this exhibition is a good choice. Because I believe that we need some success stories of self-organised communities of people who sit in solidarity with mothers who have an example or a model that we can make it, advocate for it, become supported by the state. If there are no such examples, we cannot stand up for them.

TransitoryWhite

What strikes me most is the prevailing view that we live in post-feminist countries where inequality is part of the class problem but no longer a gender problem. We all know that it is only partially true. But when we talk about women in art, we have the same - practically the same - situation as maybe 50 years ago. 

Julieta Aranda

We also still have a pay gap. When a man has children, he tends to get a salary raise, because now he has one more mouth to feed. When a woman has children, she gets a pay cut. It doesn't matter if she's a single mother or if she has a husband - the rationale for this being that, now that she is a mother, “she won’t be able to focus on her work fully because her mind is elsewhere.” If I can’t make it to a meeting, it's easier for me to say that my car broke down, or that I have a dentist appointment, than to say that my son has a dental appointment, or that my child is sick. Because if I say that, it is assumed that I am not taking things seriously enough. 

FEMINISM IS AN INCLUSIVE MOVEMENT! 

TransitoryWhite

What is your experience with the feminist communities in Armenia, Anna? In Yerevan, we personally met many feminist activists who were very vocal about the oppression of women in art.

Anna Kamay

 

The feminist circles in Armenia are mostly child-free. It means they are excluding you because of a child. This is for me, the worst! Feminism is an inclusive movement! How can you just not include the mothers? It must be considered that motherhood is not only a personal but a political decision: mothers are bringing up the next generation. One of the most prominent feminists in Armenia also has a baby now. I saw on facebook that she brought her child there, and it made me so happy. I was rubbing hands thinking: “Okay, it's starting”.

I try to organise the residency here because I have space here (Nest Artist Residency and Community Center) and we just need some funding, so I can start working on it. I will invite artists from abroad, and it will be mainly focused on the mothers since it’s rare for fathers to be the caretakers of children in our reality.

TransitoryWhite

Are you going to accept fathers too?

Anna Kamay

I think, if the fathers are the ones who are really taking care of their kids, just like the majority of mothers do, then yes.  But the whole thing is that women are becoming invisible after becoming mothers in a contemporary art field. For this reason, this is about women, mostly.

TransitoryWhite

How do you want to organise the childcare in these residencies?

Anna Kamay

Right now, I'm trying to figure out the model. It's either going to be entirely self-organised, where the parents will decide who's taking care of the child, taking shifts between babysitting and working. Or I will have a professional nanny to take care of the kids while all the artists will be working. There are precedents in the Netherlands and in the UK for this kind of residences for mothers in arts. 

TransitoryWhite

Do you manage to get some funding for that?

Anna Kamay

 

I don't have any funding from the Armenian government. But I hope to get some funding from European organisations.

My goal is to promote solidarity in society for children. Even, if you decide not to become a mother, you should know that all these children are going to be our future, they will be decision-makers, so you better address them as human beings and not ignore them. I'm taking my child to places because I want people to see that I can be here with the child. 

TransitoryWhite

I think we have two different approaches to motherhood within art structures here. Julieta, you say that you as an artist don't really want to be seen now only as a mother. So, your point of view is a bit different from Anna's who focuses on her personal experiences and wants to share her ideas about it. Your focus is more on the social problems and the social structures that cause the discrimination that you are exposed to.

Julieta Aranda

For me, my work has never been personal, and my work has never been about me. And I think it would be bizarre if all of a sudden, I would start making work about my life. It is my life, and I’m very vocal about the complexity of being a mother in the art world; I am open and public about the process I have gone through, but it doesn’t have to become my work. And after having gone through this experience, I believe that several things need to be done and addressed, from the practical to the symbolic. On the practical side, create an environment that takes family structures into account, i.e. make childcare available at talks, at museums, at art events. And if you are an institution that invites a mother to take part in some event, you should find childcare for her during this time. Finally: increase the salaries of women if they have families.

Anna Kamay

I do understand your point. But I think the reason why many artists after becoming mothers start working on the topic of motherhood is that it becomes such a big part of their life that it's too overwhelming. And they start working on it as on an art project as well, and when their children grow up, they may begin working on other topics.

However, I am happy to meet someone from a different perspective. It is important for me to see that there are some artists who only want to do their art and are not considered as mothers. It's good to know, and I think that there are many people like you. Do you feel isolated?

Julieta Aranda

No, not isolated. But there are not so many people that go ahead and have their children made in a laboratory - that's not something that happens very often. We also have to remember that there's a lot of precarity in the art world. If you don't have basic financial security, it is harder to think about raising a family.

TransitoryWhite

I would like to thank you both for taking the time to have this interesting conversation.

 

 

Julieta Aranda earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts (2001), and a Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University School of the Arts (2006), both in New York. Aranda’s work is focused on the aesthetic potential of the role played by circulation. She manipulates existing circulation formats to generate viable propositions for alternative transactions of cultural capital. These explorations have taken several forms, including printed media, installation, video and the creation of alternative spaces to explore concepts such as power, politics, reciprocity, systems of popular culture and the production of cultural expectations. Three years ago, Julieta became a single mother through the use of assisted reproductive technology.

 

Anna Kamay is an independent curator and cultural manager currently based in Yerevan. Anna organises community-based arts projects intending to use public space and art to meet local needs and manages Nest Artist Residency and Community Center at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Yerevan.  The project Anna Kamay is currently working on is "Juggling Dinosaurs" created during her studies at the Visegrad Academy of Cultural Management (2017) highlighting the place of women, especially mothers in arts and ways they reconcile their practice with motherhood. The project tackles the notion of modern motherhood in post-soviet space and the societal expectations from women concerning work, activism, motherhood and womanhood.

 

Kamee Abrahamian was born into an Armenian family displaced from the SWANA (southwest asian, north african) region, and grew up in an immigrant suburb of Toronto. They arrive in the world today as a queer and feminist mother, interdisciplinary creative, scholar, writer, producer, and facilitator. They have a BFA/BA in film and political science (Concordia University), an MA in expressive art therapy (European Graduate Institute), and soon to be MA/PhD in community, liberation, indigenous and eco psychologies (Pacifica Graduate Institute). 

http://saboteurproductions.com

 

English editor: Alexandra Vetter

Editor: Ira Konyukhova, Ina Hildebrandt

 

 

 

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