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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

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

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

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

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 a aspiring curator, artist and cultural sciences academic.

read her article: I am not toilet paper

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.

Kundry Reif

Kundry Reif is an aspiring curator, artist and cultural anthropology academic. She is passionate about performative arts, stories, different forms of knowlegde and, since living in Uzbekistan for a year, about contemporary art, thought and culture from Central Asia. Currently she is writing her thesis about decolonizing design in Central Asia and working happily on the editorial board at Transitory White.

 

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.

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
Taus Makhacheva, Way of an Object, mixed media installation, dimensions variable, 2013, courtesy of the artist and M HKA museum
photo by Nikita Shokhov
Tightrope, Dagestan, 2015. 58.10 min., video, colour, sound. Tightrope walker: Rasul Abakarov
The work is based on the collection of Dagestan Museum of Fine Arts named after P. S. Gamzatova, and its production supported by Cosmoscow Artists’ Patrons Programme.
Tightrope, Dagestan, 2015. 58.10 min., video, colour, sound. Tightrope walker: Rasul Abakarov
The work is based on the collection of Dagestan Museum of Fine Arts named after P. S. Gamzatova, and its production supported by Cosmoscow Artists’ Patrons Programme.
Tightrope, Dagestan, 2015. 58.10 min., video, colour, sound. Tightrope walker: Rasul Abakarov
The work is based on the collection of Dagestan Museum of Fine Arts named after P. S. Gamzatova, and its production supported by Cosmoscow Artists’ Patrons Programme

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

part one

with Victoria Kravtsova

26th September 2019

As feminism is taking more and more space within politics, art and activism on the post-Soviet area, geopolitical cleavages, histories of interdependence and coloniality give the questions of identity and difference a renewed relevance. Victoria Kravtsova talked to Madina Tlostanova, a feminist thinker and one of the first scholars to bring post- and decolonial approaches to the post-Soviet space about the past, present and future(s) of feminist discourses.

Victoria Kravtsova

 Dear Madina, as a thinker and academic, where would you place your work? 

Madina Tlostanova

I see myself as a decolonial verbal artist and perhaps thinker whereas being an academic is an accidental thing which can change at any point. I do not see myself as a philosopher (even if I spent half of my academic career as a professor of philosophy) as I am very sceptical of traditional disciplinary divisions grounded in what Lewis Gordon calls “disciplinary decadence”.

Taus Makhacheva, Way of an Object, mixed media installation, dimensions variable, 2013, courtesy of the artist and M HKA museum
photo by Nikita Shokhov

Victoria Kravtsova

Could you please talk a bit more about decoloniality: what makes it not a theory, but an option, as you once stated in an interview? 

Madina Tlostanova

We do not impose any ready-made interpretations onto reality, we learn from indigenous and colonized populations, and with them and in the process of constant discussion and negotiation we come up with some options which we put on the table for everyone to consider and improve, or reject, without forcing our option as theories usually do. We consciously and from the start, reject disciplinary decadence and refuse to become a discipline and a theory. We have no space here to discuss this, but I refer the readers to the wonderful Afro-Caribbean philosopher Lewis Gordon who coined this term and reflected on the shifting of the geography of reason. To oppose something to the coloniality of thinking and knowledge, one needs to get rid of theories in their modern/colonial understanding. And this is what we - decolonial thinkers - are trying to do. Importantly it is as much an ethical and political choice as an epistemic one.  

Victoria Kravtsova

For many scientists these two terms - decolonial and postcolonial - are often interchangable. Where do you see the difference between them?

Madina Tlostanova

There is a huge and perhaps even growing difference between these positions. They differ not only because they had to do with different types of colonialism in the Americas (decolonial) and in Asia and Africa (postcolonial) and hence with different focuses of the two discourses, e.g. the decolonial focus on indigeneity and the postcolonial focus on subalternity, migrations, and creolization. A more fundamental difference was and is that the postcolonial discourse is not radically de-automatizing of and delinking from the Western epistemic premises,  naturalized cognitive operations, methodological clichés and disciplinary divisionsand consequently, it is not attempting to build a different conceptual apparatus to launch or set free an alternative world perception.

Decolonial thinking sees this as the main problem of postcolonial studies because no matter how factually accurate and descriptively detailed they are, postcolonial thinkers often continue using methodological tools of the master to dismantle his house, to paraphrase Audre Lorde. And this is indeed impossible. The delocalized universalism of postcolonial theory is discordant with decolonial pluriversality as coexistence and correlation of many interacting and intersecting non-abstract universals grounded in the geopolitics and corpopolitics of knowledge, being, gender, and perception, reinstating the experiential nature of knowledge and the origin of any theory in the human life-world. Pluriversal critique targets not the concrete constellations of race, gender, and class but rather the aberration of the universal as such. For me, this is the main difference between the two discourses and not even the simple fact that one stems from Latin America and the other from Great Britain and its former colonies.

Tightrope, Dagestan, 2015. 58.10 min., video, colour, sound. Tightrope walker: Rasul Abakarov
The work is based on the collection of Dagestan Museum of Fine Arts named after P. S. Gamzatova, and its production supported by Cosmoscow Artists’ Patrons Programme.

Victoria Kravtsova

Whom would you highlight out of artists who represent decolonial approach?

Madina Tlostanova

There are definitely many decolonial artists who are both connected with theories and aware of them and are decolonial due to their specific subjectivities and sensibilities. Among them Aslan Gaisumov and Taus Makhacheva, Saule Suleimenova and Almagul Menlibaeva, Pedro Lash, Jeannette Ehlers, Patricia Kaersenhout, Hayv Kahraman and many others

Tightrope, Dagestan, 2015. 58.10 min., video, colour, sound. Tightrope walker: Rasul Abakarov
The work is based on the collection of Dagestan Museum of Fine Arts named after P. S. Gamzatova, and its production supported by Cosmoscow Artists’ Patrons Programme.

Victoria Kravtsova

One of the artists you mentioned, Taus Makhacheva, is born and raised in Dagestan, a multi-ethnic republic in the south of Russia with the majority of the Muslim population. As an artist, she's working with topics of national identity and her feminine role in a conservative society. Which works of Taus in your opinion apply decolonial gestures?

Madina Tlostanova

The general impulse of Taus’s work, of her art as research and refuturing - is deeply decolonial as it deals with problematizing the assumptions and norms that coloniality - soviet and post-soviet and national as well, embedded in all of us and with ways to re-existence - in every of her work. In more concrete terms Makhacheva deals with the decolonisation of museums in complex performances such as Tightrope and The Way of an Object where she questions the disciplinary role of the museum as an imperial/national institution that provides one legitimised historical or aesthetic truth. Instead, she narrates multiple histories, putting museum objects in unfamiliar contexts outside the institution to give their voices back to them and muses on the complex transfer of ethnic-national traditions, and the precarity in artists’ works that end up in museums as easily as the abyss of a crevasse. Decolonial artworks are less straightforward than artivism – they are open to various interpretations and grounded in different temporalities, unfixed in the actionist metaphysics of the presence, reflecting on multiple pasts, without which there is no present or future.

Tightrope, Dagestan, 2015. 58.10 min., video, colour, sound. Tightrope walker: Rasul Abakarov
The work is based on the collection of Dagestan Museum of Fine Arts named after P. S. Gamzatova, and its production supported by Cosmoscow Artists’ Patrons Programme

Victoria Kravtsova

In your interview with AnFem - a Russian anarcha-feminist group - you mentioned that decoloniality is now experiencing what intersectionality already did: Western feminism appropriated concepts from the Global South, distorts and depoliticizes them. What is to be done in this situation, is there a way to contradict this depoliticization? 

Madina Tlostanova

Nothing can be done or should be done except ignoring all this and continuing to do what we find important and relevant. Intersectionality, in its original interpretations, has not become corrupted because some white feminists decided to hijack it. The same happens with decoloniality. It is deeply political and will continue to be so, whereas cases of its misuse and abuse are just temporary superficial efforts to revive the deflated feminist and not only feminist agenda.

Victoria Kravtsova

In an another interview your mentioned that some post-Socialist feminists appropriate postcolonial discourse, erasing race from it. How, in your opinion, decolonial feminism could/should look like in the post-Soviet space instead?

Madina Tlostanova

I do not believe in schemes through which we decide to practice decolonial feminism in this or that region. It does not work like that. There could be certain internal impulses, needs, wills that would eventually rhyme or come into dialogue with decolonial agendas or not. But it has to grow out of the local history and not be imposed from outside. As I wrote ages ago in my book on feminist epistemologies in Eurasian borderlands, the most suitable spaces for such impulses to emerge are the non-European racialized colonies and ex-colonies such as Central Asian countries and the Caucasus where race is and always have been an issue in contrast with Russia proper or with secondary European colonies. I have no idea how it could look like because the feminists themselves in these spaces would have to decide it and create it. I do not own the decolonial option; it is free and open for everyone to design and rethink depending on people’s needs and interests.

Victoria Kravtsova

Your book “Gender Epistemologies and Eurasian borderlands“ (2010, Palgrave Macmillan) is somehow pointing at feminisms from the post-Soviet borderlands as a source of possible common visions. Did you perception change since then? 

Madina Tlostanova

I do not think I ever formulated my question like this - trying to find who or what would be the source of common visions. I was just trying to put Central Asia and the Caucasus on the map and look at our feminist or rather, “womanist” (in Alice Walker’s sense) genealogies and trajectories, vis-a-vis other major feminist models, names, movements, and also put them into the context of Russian (post)/neo-colonialism and global coloniality.

What has changed perhaps is hope or the degree to which changes are possible and how soon are they to happen. I was never an optimist, but I did believe more in the possibility of decolonial reemergence of erased cosmologies and ways of thinking and acting in the Caucasus and Central Asia. And I was hoping that feminist movements will be among the first and most important ones to start this shift.

What I underestimated was the devastating and long-lived effect of the Soviet modernity, its “duress” to quote Ann Laura Stoler that wiped out whatever was still alive in these indigenous and colonial contexts. The present regime makes sure that no revival is possible. An example of this is the new law regulating the study of native languages in Russia (it was made optional) which for minorities basically means that within several years their languages would die as practically the last marker of ethnic identity.

In this respect, the post-Soviet space is very different from Latin America where in spite of the genocides and dehumanization, the indigenous people managed to preserve their cosmologies until now. In the post-Soviet cases, this was virtually impossible, and perhaps it is even too late now to capture the seeds of alternative thinking and perception. Yet I see some promising cases even today, and it is wonderful that they come from the younger generation of scholars, activists, artists, writers. Once again, they are not bringing a new Truth with a capital letter to the world. They are just working humbly on their decoloniality which quite importantly is a decoloniality for rather than merely against, for a creation of a world otherwise, a world with a returned past and a reimagined future.

 

Madina Tlostanova is a decolonial thinker and fiction writer, professor of postcolonial feminisms at Linköping University (Sweden). She focuses on decolonial thought, feminisms of the Global South, postsocialist sensibilities, fiction and art. Her most recent books include Postcolonialism and Postsocialism in Fiction and Art: Resistance and Re-existence (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and What Does it Mean to Be Post-Soviet? Decolonial Art from the Ruins of the Soviet Empire (Duke University Press, 2018).

 

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.

 

Editors: Ina Hildebrandt, Ira Konyukhova.

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