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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
save kokzhailau
AI-Faceframe, 2019, Photo by the author
Live-streaming of performance I Have a Choice
Screenshot of original video on instagram
For your safety only, mixed media, visual coding, video documentation, 2018
Photo by the author
Talaq, interactive installation, coding, red cloth, 2018
Photo by Aigul Khozhantayeva
Decolonization of Kurt, video, 10 min, 2017
Photo by the author

On language of supremacy: Medina Bazargali in conversation

by Saltanat Shoshanova & Annika Terwey

25th October 2019

Medina Bazargali is a contemporary artist from Kazakhstan, based in Moscow. She is fond of ironic and exaggerated realism in which the internet, new technologies and (post) totalitarian realities intermingle. Soviet stiffness, the digital revolution and the revival of national identity go together like a 3-in-1 product sold at the supermarket. Through her artworks, she wishes to find a sustainable frequency of oscillation between these three poles.

Saltanat Shoshanova

You are considered to be a part of a new generation of contemporary Kazakhstani artists. How do you connect to the artists’ generation of your parents (Saule Suleimenova and Kuanysh Bazargaliyev) and the generation before them (like Rustam Halfin or Olga Blinova for example)? Do you think that the questions that you are asking now differ from their questions? Do you feel that the struggle has changed?

Medina Bazargali

The first generation of contemporary artists in Kazakhstan began to appear on the scene in the early ‘90s, so most of them spent a big part of their lives in informational isolation. The Soviet standard rigidly and successfully promoted social realism as the only way of artistic development. When the Soviet Union collapsed, artists gained more freedom and power and the dawn of the free Kazakh contemporary art began. I respect their experience and it seems to me that both of our generations have struggled with rotten systems. However, I don't think the questions we ask are the same. My generation - so-called generation Z -  I think, is the first generation in the post-Soviet space that overcame stagnation and depression. We do not look around in fear when we speak openly about issues like colonization, for example.We can be abrupt and bold because we don't have the post-Soviet traumatic syndrome anymore.

Saltanat Shoshanova

So would you say, the way is free now?

Medina Bazargali

Kazakhstan, with its quasi-democratic political system, the quasi-market economy is still deeply mixed with the residues of the Soviet ideology. I consider those residues to be radioactive material that should be liquidated and I hope to become one of the liquidators. I don’t want to necessarily develop a new Kazakh identity, but my wish is to emancipate it from fear of the great lord, who or whatever it may be, to release it from pain after multiple trauma, to help it accept its true history and true customs, not mixed with stereotypes and political myths.

save kokzhailau
AI-Faceframe, 2019, Photo by the author

Annika Ernst Terwey

You mentioned the topic of colonization, which you actually address in several artworks. For example, in your video Decolonization of Kurt (2018), you documented the process of colonization of Kurt - a traditional Kazakh dry cheese - by mold. In the second part of the video, you try to detach the visible parts of the superficial mold, which cannot be erased completely. What does the decolonial project consist of for you?

Medina Bazargali

The topic of decolonization is very popular and controversial in the Kazakh art community today. In the video, I metaphorically depicted radioactive residues of the great modern project of the Soviet Union by using a mold that slowly colonized kurt. The main idea lies in the impossibility of total erasure of this mold. Mold toxins are too strong, so even if they are not visible, they can easily reappear. Hence, the words appearing in the final scene - “Decolonization failed. Fatal error”. Those radioactive residues can be found not only in Kazakhstan but in Russia as well. Now when I live in Moscow, the very heart of the colonial power, I feel it even more intensely.

Annika Ernst Terwey

How does this manifest itself?

Medina Bazargali

Seeing migrant workers from Central Asia made me rethink my own privileges. Even though I as well faced multiple nationalist acts towards myself, for example from neighbours. Here, in Moscow, you hear a swear-word churka, which is basically similar to the n-word, everywhere from the university to a grocery shop. A recent very upsetting story: A Kazakh guy walked into an Irish pub and the employees called him Liu Kang and played the Mortal Combat theme song. He complained but they refused to see anything discriminatory in their actions. Some ethnic minorities here do not complain at all when something similar happens. They even reinforce this language of supremacy by finding it funny.

Saltanat Shoshanova

Is it important for you to be understood by the Western audience as well, or do you imagine your audience to be the one that understands the local artistic and aesthetic language that you use?

Live-streaming of performance I Have a Choice
Screenshot of original video on instagram

Medina Bazargali

I don’t want to be exoticized and exoticize myself in favor of the Western audience. Although the attitude of some Western curators and researchers towards the Kazakh art scene has changed a lot since the 90s when they were looking for "exotic" art, the demands for it are still present and some local artists allow themselves to be exoticized in favour of the audience. That upsets me. At the same time, in order to get to any Western institutions in the first place, one needs systematic support provided by governmental or any other institutions. There is this promising generation of artists, that get very little of that kind of support, so for them, it is almost impossible to survive by doing only art. 

For your safety only, mixed media, visual coding, video documentation, 2018
Photo by the author

Saltanat Shoshanova

You are very politically active and openly feminist, which is still not commonplace amongst young women in Kazakhstan. Why it is so important for you to connect art and politics? Do you think that art can bring social change? 

Medina Bazargali

I grew up in a community of artists and activists, who live and work shoulder to shoulder and with an idea that basic human rights should be an integral part of every society. Every artist, as a particularly sensitive social element, must understand and support this idea. 

When a long-term president Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned, and the interim and current president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced the name change for the capital from Astana to Nur-Sultan, I simply could not stay silent. I made a video reciting a slogan: „Nursultan is not my city, Tokayev is not my president, Dariga is not my Speaker of the Senate of the Parliament, I have a choice.” The video gained more than 150.000 views and inspired so many other activists to stand up and say something. I continued my cyberactivism by creating and spreading Facebook frames and AR-masks that serve as protest posters on avatars and in Instagram stories.

Saltanat Shoshanova

How do your feminist beliefs influence your work?

Medina Bazargali

As a feminist, I am aware of my privileged position when compared to other female groups in Kazakhstan that are less protected and have fewer opportunities in life. In my artworks, I bring awareness to those feminist issues by placing them in exhibition spaces.

For example, my artwork from 2018 titled Talaq is dedicated to one-third of Kazakh women who were given in marriage as teenagers and never finished high school. Those marriages are usually contracted not officially, but in the mosque in a ceremony called nikah, that became increasingly popular, not only as a consequence of Islam spreading aggressively in Kazakhstan since independence but also because of no age restrictions for marriage. The title of the work comes from the practice called triple talaq, which allows Muslim men to divorce their wives by using the word talaq three times in person, over the phone or even in writing or in the text message. The option is not available to Muslim women, who can seek a divorce only after getting permission from their husbands, a cleric or other religious authorities. Muslim women are very vulnerable in a marriage institution like that and I address the issue of their invisibility in the Kazakhstani institutional digital system. In my artwork, a bride wears a red wedding dress and deprives herself of existence within this digital institutional system. 

Annika Ernst Terwey

Like in Talaq, you use technology in your other works too. Can you tell us about the importance of new technology in your art? 

Talaq, interactive installation, coding, red cloth, 2018
Photo by Aigul Khozhantayeva

Medina Bazargali

I study computer science and I am very interested in the mix of programming, new technologies, and art. For instance, my work For your safety only addresses a topic of the constant Internet blocking by the government of Kazakhstan. The majority of the population are forced to use a VPN and are used to the fact that a few hours a day, the Internet does not work. The reasons behind those blockings are political. In For your safety only I wanted to bring this situation to the point of absurdity and show how this propaganda deception looks from the outside. I built an ultrahigh-frequency generator that suddenly turns on several times per hour and interrupts continuous traffic of formulas and work of the oscillators, the work of the whole system. This project is a deceitful game of war led by a general generator, which devours itself, just like ouroboros eating its own tail.

In my latest work titled Within the law (2019) I directly engage with various frightening scenarios of the merging of the punitive-judicial system and new technologies. Viewers find themselves inside an installation that resembles the architecture of the NKVD interrogation rooms. However, when the viewer sits down behind the interrogation table they are faced by a machine that uses face-recognition technology and neural network, to create a criminal record on them. I trained the neural network on constitutions, civil, administrative and criminal codes of all former republics of the Soviet Union. In this space, the social "self" of a person is reduced to a simple piece of paper/dossier/ criminal record/sentence. 

Saltanat Shoshanova

How do you imagine the future of the contemporary art of Kazakhstan? What path will it take and where does it lead?

Medina Bazargali

I would like to see more local, but not self-exoticizing works among the artists of my generation and the ones to come. I am convinced that the Kazakh Spring events already changed the course of art production in Kazakhstan. Though the demonstrations of radical activists are still roughly dispersed, some artists and activists do not fear repressions by authorities anymore and peaceful protests increasingly become very common. Maybe we’ll even see the huge development of the Kazakh actionism. But of course, official contemporary art may take the same role as it did in Russia — technological but politically neutral.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Editing: Ina Hildebrandt & Ira Konyukhova

 

English correction: Gustav Joncus



 

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