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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 an online platform for the connectivity of intersected discourses of local, regional, and global perspectives on art, design and activism. TransitoryWhite is about contemporary art from the blind spots (“white spots”) from Central Asia, Caucasus and Eastern Europe.
 
Despite the territories heterogeneous cultural, historical and religious diversity, the respective countries share a fundamental experience of a realised utopia, which lasted over more than 70 years. In the turbulent time of the 20th century, the political events taking place were differing from those in Europe, which also resulted in an original set of cultural and aesthetic questions. The uniqueness of these questions was underlined by the particular term “Post-Soviet” which was coined to describe the political, economic and artistic transition from the communist regime to the democratic states. While we don’t deny that the initial generalisation was making sense, we claim for the new discussions and discourses for the art from these regions which are not tied by the restrains of its brand. We would love to show video art, bio art, art on the edge of science, communal projects, feminist initiatives, new media performances and much more on our platform and give the possibility for discovering the transnational connections and influences of the artists from these countries. Apart from that, we aim to translate and to publish the new and old texts written by the local art historians, art theoreticians and curators, which are usually expelled from the contemporary art discourse.
 
Crucial to our investigation of those regions is furthermore, the representation of artists and theoreticians from any ethnic, religious, sexual and even political minorities as an opposition to the accumulating national discourse. We’re dedicated to exploring any transnational networks as well as limits of connection within and on the borders.
 
TransitoryWhite is the White Noise of the post-post-Soviet, a constant disturbance, a random signal, cacophony, turbulence, restlessness, which - contrary to the musical White Noise - is not constant, but is in fluctuation and transition.

Contributors

Victoria Kravtsova

Ira Konyukhova

Thibaut de Ruyter

Asli Samadova

Antonina Stebur

Alex Ulko

Katharina Wiedlack

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. 

Irina Konyukhova

Ira Konyukhova is an artist, writer, curator, feminist activist and the founder of TransitoryWhite. In her practice, she explores the connection between female sexuality, pop-resilience, death as well as colonial technological practices. As an artist, her works have been presented on various international festivals and exhibitions, including DocLisboa, Athens Biennale, Teneriffa Espacio del Arte, Exground Film Festival e.t. Her latest article on the early 2000s Russian lesbian stars T.a.T.u. And their influence on queer politics has been recently published by Pop-Zeitschrift by University Siegen. Ira was a grantee of BS Projects Artist-in-Residence scholarship Programm and lives and works in Berlin.

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.

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.

Alexandra Vetter

Alexandra Vetter is a film maker currently based in Berlin. In 2010, she achieved a Master Degree in theatre, film and media studies at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. She then specialized in creating documentary films and shorts, filming in Germany, the UK, Russia, Italy and Ireland. During her stay in Dublin from 2013-2019, she was co-organiser of an independent film group Dublin Filmmakers Collective, where she regularly held film-making events, workshops as well as film screenings. Her works have been screened at several film festivals including REFLECTA – Rethink Your World, Frankensteiner Film Festival, Open Film Festival Weiterstadt, International Theatre Festival Frankfurt am Main "Sommerwerft" and Underground Cinema Film Festival in Dublin. Her video works were shown at the Historische Museum Frankfurt, at the World Cultural Museum and the exhibition hall 1A in Frankfurt. More recently she has been exploring the topic of age and ageing.

Lioudmila Voropai

Lioudmila Voropai is a curator, art critic and media artist. She studied philosophy at the Russian State University for the Humanities (RGGU) in Moscow and New Media Art at the Academy of Media Arts (KHM) in Cologne. Her curatorial and artistic projects are mainly focused on issues related to institutional critique and fake as an artistic strategy. As an art critic, she contributes to XZ Moscow Art Magazine, Art Issue, Logos and other periodicals. She is also a translator and editor of the Russian translations of Jürgen Habermas (Legitimation Crisis), Slavoj Zizek (Parallax View), Giorgio Agamben (State of Exception), Michael Walzer (The Company of Critics) among others. Lioudmila Voropai is an adjunct professor for Media Theory and Philosophy at Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design.

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This document was last updated on March 10, 2019

6th November 2019

Conversation with Julieta Aranda and Anna Kamay

interview

29th October 2019

Where the roses grow

interview

Interview with Almagul Menlibaeva

25th October 2019

On language of supremacy: Medina Bazargali in conversation

interview

16th October 2019

Interiors

portrait

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

10th October 2019

Madina Tlostanova on decolonizing the post-Soviet, exotization and political imagination(s)

interview

part two

26th September 2019

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

interview

part one

6th September 2019

It is more important to make films queerly than to make queer films

interview

12th July 2019

When there are no opputurnities, create your own Giardini

article

Asli Samadova

1st July 2019

Juggling Dinosaurs

article

The precariousness of motherhood in arts
Anna Kamay

24th June 2019

Interview with Elene Abashidze

interview

14th June 2019

Unfortunately, we cannot pay for your flight and accommodation

article

Thibaut de Ruyter

28th May 2019

Ich liebe dich!

article

Antonina Stebur

17th May 2019

Interview with Anna Vahrami

interview

23rd April 2019

Artist Portrait: Anastasia Akhvlediani

portrait

13th April 2019

Artist Portrait: Alisa Berger

article

Thibaut de Ruyter

21st March 2019

Faig Ahmed

interview

Interview geführt von Ira Konyukhova und Pavel Metelitsyn

18th March 2019

There Is Sex After Soviet Union!

article

Irina Konyukhova

11th March 2019

Interview mit Samvel Saghatelian

interview

Geführt von Ira Konyukhova

8th March 2019

Artist Portrait: Salome Dumbadze

portrait

4th March 2019

Interview mit Chinara Majidova

interview

Geführt von Ira Konyukhova

26th February 2019

East Wind - Art in the Former Soviet Republics

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
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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