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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).

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.

Ina Hildebrandt

Ina Hildebrandt is an art historian and cultural journalist.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Daria Prydybailo

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

Thibaut de Ruyter

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

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.

Julia Sorokina

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

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.

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.

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).

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.

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

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.

 

Kundry Reif

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

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.

Lina Iliaeva

Lina Iliaeva (born in Moscow, Russia) is a student of the Faculty of Cultural Studies of the Russian State University for the Humanities. Previously studied Theatre, Film and Media Studies at the University of Vienna. Lina joined TransitoryWhite in March 2021 and now working as an editor on the website. Area of research interests: art culture of the twentieth and twenty-first century, public art, cultural and visual studies, corporeality, new techniques and technologies in art, digital art.

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.

Former Collaborators

During the existence of the magazine, many wonderful people collaborated and facilitated the development of the journal. Among them are: Iryna Dzhava, Chinara Majidova, Daria Prydybailo, Willi Reinecke, Sholpan Zhanuzakova. 

26th July 2021

Розмова з авторами "Чорнобильдорф" Романом Григорівим та Іллею Разумейком

interview

uk

30th June 2021

Schreiben gegen die Gleichgültigkeit

article

Ina Hildebrandt
de

14th June 2021

I am out of politics?

article

Art activism in Russia during the pandemic
Antonina Stebur
en

28th May 2021

Этот переход закрыт

article

Ира Конюхова
ru

22nd May 2021

Such a distant home

interview

en

19th May 2021

Неотчужденный интернациональный труд как самая большая утопия

article

Бермет Борубаева
ru

5th May 2021

Метаболічне Зображення

article

ОЛЕКСІЙ КУЧАНСЬКИЙ
ua

29th April 2021

Каталогизация неофольклора

interview

Интервью с Фархадом Фарзалиевым
ru

21st April 2021

Лаборатории komaxи

article

Nastey Teor и Алексей Кучанский
ru

9th April 2021

R¥TŲ €UROPO$ €GZOTIKA

article

Dovilė Aleksandravičiūtė
lt

5th April 2021

Экспонируя территорию

article

музей между локальной историей и дискурсом современности
Татьяна Бурлаченко
ru

18th March 2021

Революция в будуаре

article

Анастасия Патапкина
ru

15th March 2021

You are not alone in your monologue

article

Vica Kravtsova and Kira Shmyreva
en

23rd February 2021

Ортостатичний колапс

article

Олексій Кучанський
ua

29th January 2021

Das junge Herz des Protestierenden

article

Anastasia Kalk
de

26th January 2021

Бороться за воздух, деревья, слова

interview

Интервью с коллективом БиШСИ
ru

19th January 2021

Looking to the horizon

article

Kateryna Iakovlenko
en

12th January 2021

Вирус независимости варшавского арт-сообщества

interview

ru

4th January 2021

Манипулятивный конструкт

article

Анастасия Бергалевич
ru

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

Галина Рымбу и 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

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
Maria 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
Techno-Poetry. From the video "Out of Politics" (2020)
Julia Kozhemyako
Party of the Dead. The Dead in the Dead City (2020)
Photo by Evgeny Kurskov
Roman Osminkin. This is not a vacation (2020)
Photo by Roman Osminkin
Creative association “Nadenka”. May Day (2020)
Anastasia Makarenko
ZIP group. Protest Aerobics (2020)
Visual by ZIP group

I am out of politics?

Art activism in Russia during the pandemic

Antonina Stebur

14th June 2021

***This text is part of the TransitoryWhite Nr. 2 Not The East, which can be ordered via this e-mail. The issue contains several texts and poetry in five languages as well as photographic works by Sasha Kurmaz. The publication is supported by the Goethe-Institut in Moscow. Enjoy reading!***

 

This article is a result of Antonina's participation in the Art Activism Research Lab. The author expresses gratitude for Katrin Nenasheva, Tatyana Volkova, Pavel Mitenko, and Roman Osminkin for their productive work and discussions within the laboratory.

 

 

In one of his poetic activist works created during the pandemic, Roman Sergeevich Osminkin writes: "Citizens! The word quarantine can be used to compose not only the words ‘punishment’, ‘wound’ and ‘tyrant,’ but also the prefix anti to all these words". Through such a play on words, Roman Osminkin not only wants to give us hope but emphasizes that the role of a political artist during a pandemic does not disappear. Vice versa, it is an extremely important activity, since the coronavirus exposes social problems even more. Even though the Russian government uses COVID-19 as a convenient tool to distract us from political issues and make us worry about health and life outside the political and socio-critical context.

Techno-Poetry. From the video "Out of Politics" (2020)
Julia Kozhemyako

 

It is hard to say if the pandemic and the subsequent isolation have set up fundamentally new conditions for life and survival. Rather it revealed and exacerbated the problems and trends that were already present in Russia and worldwide. In this regard, the American researcher Judith Butler speaks of "the rapidity with which radical inequality, nationalism, and capitalist exploitation find ways to reproduce and strengthen themselves within the pandemic zones". In the situation of Russia, concerning the analysis of activist art during the pandemic, understanding of the access to public space appears to be an important category for reflection.

 

The access to public space, so fundamental for the practice of activist art, was limited not only due to the coronavirus restrictions but also due to the political situation in the country. The pandemic became a trigger and a convenient pretext for the authorities to restrict and in some cases to ban access to public space subjecting this procedure to maximum regulation Roman Osminkin's allusion that the word quarantine contains the words ‘wound’ and ‘tyrant’ underlines this idea.

 

In this sense, the restriction on participation in the protest movement, on stepping into and taking possession of public spaces, as well as the emphasis on the use of force in resolving the conflict had begun long before the coronavirus. However, it was the coronavirus that made many activist artists rethink the problem of access to public spaces and pay attention to the topics of inclusion/exclusion of certain social groups from the sphere of care, unequal access to privileges, and social injustice.

Party of the Dead. The Dead in the Dead City (2020)
Photo by Evgeny Kurskov

 

If we look at the art activist practices of the period of the onset of the pandemic and self-isolation, we will see how the body gradually disappears from the public space. Thus, on April 5, 2020, Party of the Dead held “The Dead in the Dead City” action – quite classic for Russian activist art. In St. Petersburg, a city deserted due to the introduced quarantine, a group of activists walked along its central avenues. The point of the action is simple: the dead, as the representatives of the most excluded and displaced groups, occupy the city, abandoned for their own safety by the living, hiding from the virus in their apartments. Party of the Dead uses the format of the party for its actions, in order to transfer issues and actions from the aesthetic sphere to the political sphere. They show how the most vulnerable, unprotected groups are excluded, and the quarantine or self-isolation itself cannot be universal, that is, doable for everyone.

 

However, already on April 25, the leader of the Party, Maxim Evstropov, mentioned in his Facebook post that the action left him with mixed and conflicting feelings. For activist practices, the choice between compliance with the isolation regime and going outside in the situation of coronavirus turns out to be equally problematic.

 

This radically politicized the very question of whether to go out or not. Maxim Evstropov wrote, “You can no longer just stay home or just go outside – neither is seen as neutral anymore, transforming into a political gesture.” Each of these choices carries its own ethical burden and any answer cannot be universal.

 

At the same time, the traditional division into private and public spaces itself, introduced by Hannah Arendt and dating back to the Greek polis as the political life ideal, in the situation of the pandemic and the rise of biopower requires radical rethinking. In a situation where "we are asked to sequester ourselves in family units, shared dwelling spaces, or individual domiciles, deprived of social contact and relegated to spheres of relative isolation", extreme diffusion and transparency of numerous processes can be observed. Thus, the expansion of online forms of meetings, lectures, concerts, and discussions presupposes the invasion of the public sphere into the private one. Behind the back of each participant of such a meeting, the intimate space of their rooms reveals itself.

Roman Osminkin. This is not a vacation (2020)
Photo by Roman Osminkin

 

Throughout history, the private sphere has been denied a political dimension, excluded to the periphery of any historical process, marginalized and pushed aside as “not prestigious” for classical academic philosophical analysis. Today, however, it can be seen that the private sphere, which includes not only the space of one’s dwelling, but also such fundamental characteristics as care, routine, and everydayness, is getting politicized. On the one hand, private structures and infrastructures provide the very possibility of the public sphere existence, on the other – they must be brought back to the political context. This process had begun long before the coronavirus.

In the absence of access to the public sphere, artists seek new or old-new ways and opportunities to work politically

They focus on those who cannot stay at home. The artists show that we stay at home because someone goes out, risking their lives and health. These are usually representatives of the medical sector or low-paid workers who cannot be unemployed because they have no savings. For example, Katrin Nenasheva and Gruz 300 are organizing an action "With love from isolated citizens", in the framework of which they post messages in the city that those who observe the isolation regime would like to leave. These messages in an empty city are intended to draw attention to the existence of those who cannot afford the luxury of working from home: couriers, medical workers who are forced to risk their lives. The central idea of work is to rethink the existence of unequal access to rest and remote work, the idea of invisible structures of care.

 

The consequences of unequal access to remote work and recreation "affected those employment sectors that can hardly be commodified, but are basic in the system of normal course of life. First of all, among them there is a sphere of domestic work and work of the care economy, which constitutes a huge part of the budget sector". For example, Roman Osminkin's project “This is not a vacation”, in which he poetically changed advertising on the asphalt, usually associated with the sphere of prostitution, into a politically charged message. During the coronavirus period, its focus shifted to an emphasis on unequal access to privileges, where one segment of the population is "forced to rest", whereas the other serves it.

Creative association “Nadenka”. May Day (2020)
Anastasia Makarenko

 

In general, many traditional activist events were forced to reformat. For example, the traditional May Day demonstration took place in a disjoined collectivity format and was almost completely or partially removed from public space. The creative association “Nadenka” placed their slogans and banners in a birch grove – in a deserted place. N I I C H E G O D E L A T made minimal models of their requirements for basic income and non-work on a laptop keyboard, against which videos of the May demonstrations of past years were shown.

 

In this regard, the boundary between the private and public spheres is reinterpreted. What has traditionally been considered private is being politicized, such as care infrastructures We see how artists use the practice of intercepting, capturing existing everyday practices, and converting them into political practices. An example of such a strategy can be the “Protest Aerobics” project of the ZIP group. On the one hand, due to the wave of isolation, interest in yoga and online sports services increased, on the other hand, the political climate in the country was aggravated over these several months. The grouping combines both trends characteristic of the pandemic into a series of physical exercises, among which there is the asana of Bullet Dodge, Anti-Gas, etc. The daily routine is politicized.

 

At the same time, it is worth noting that the restriction of access to the public sphere, isolation, emphasis on the forceful way of solving problems on the part of the authorities, reinforces the so-called left melancholy - a mixture of fear and apathy associated with powerlessness about the ability to change something. That is, on the one hand, we are witnessing the politicization of intimate and everyday spheres, on the other - fear and apathy, and as a result, internal migration, expressed in the phrase: “I am out of politics”. It is precisely this melancholy and apathy that the Techno-Poetry group is concerned about. As a protest against the referendum on constitutional amendments, the group released the song and video Out of Politics. In this video, they not only demonstrate the repressive political landscape of modern Russia but also show that it is impossible to be outside of politics.

ZIP group. Protest Aerobics (2020)
Visual by ZIP group

 

It is important to note that today's actions are simultaneously held in several spaces - virtual, public, and private. So, for example, the media activist project in support of the activist and artist Yulia Tsvetkova simultaneously uses various platforms and mediums - from traditional work with her own body and appearing in public space to Internet challenges. The purpose of such an action is the widest possible solidarity.

 

We can literally see that the existence of the public space is completely subordinate to and dependent on the structures of what is called the private sphere. This leads to the politicization of private space since the fragility of everydayness is being comprehended, as well as its dependence on a variety of institutional formations and actors. And then, according to Alla Mitrofanova, "politics is the formation of our everydayness". In this situation, artists turn to the topic of the politicization of care, and the awareness of inequality and privileges in the labor system during the pandemic.

 

 

 

 

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 art-activist project #damaudobnayavbytu ("Woman comfortable in everyday life"), which examines the feminist agenda in the postsoviet contexts. 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.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Lina Iliaeva and Ira Konyukhova

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