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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, БУМЕРАНГ КОЛОНИЗАЦИИ

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, ВАГІТНІ РЕВОЛЮЦІЄЮ, ВЗАЄМОПОВ'ЯЗАНІ ТА ВЗАЄМОЗАЛЕЖНІ

Thibaut de Ruyter

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 a curator and researcher. She studied visual and cultural sciences at the European Humanities University (Vilnius, Lithuania) and at the School of Engaged Art of the art group "Chto Delat? (Saint Petersburg, Russia). She is a member of the artist group #damaudobnayavbytu ("Woman comfortable in everyday life"), which examines the feminist agenda in the Russian and Belarusian context. She has curated a number of exhibitions in Belarus, Russia, Poland, France and China. Her research areas and curatorial interests are: community, re-composition of everyday practices, feminist critique, new sensibility, grassroots initiatives.

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, THE OTHER EAST

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, NUDE ART AS A MIRROR OF SOCIETY

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 an aspiring curator, artist and cultural sciences academic.

Read her articles: I am not toilet paper, ARTISTS FROM CENTRAL ASIA (EDITORS PICK)

People

Iryna Dzhava

Iryna Dzhava is a teacher, translator, cultural project manager and marketing specialist. Her vision is better and accessible education to everyone. She is emphasizing the importance of the Humanities in our education. Iryna is interested in art and literature. She is the one to show you, how to create your very first etching picture and to inspire you to look deeper into the biographies of some famous people of the last century. 

Born in Riwne, Ukraine, in 2006 has moved to Berlin to graduate from Humboldt University with a Master Degree in German Literature and to continue writing on the neverending story of self-education: Arabic Studies at Freie University and Management for Art and Culture in FH Potsdam.

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.

Chinara Majidova

Chinara Majidova graduated from the International Law Department of Baku State University in 2010 and has since worked as a writer, painter and video artist. She has been a contributing photojournalist and writer for the Ajam Media Collective, working on projects such as Mehelle charting the disappearance of the historic Baku district called Sovetski, and for Chai Khana, a multimedia platform covering diverse events and issues in the South Caucasus. She has also participated in a number of local and international group exhibitions spanning art and journalism and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Cultural Heritage Policy and Management at the Central European University in Vienna.

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.

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 architect, curator and critic who lives and works in Berlin since 2001. In the last ten years, he has organized exhibitions at Kunstmuseum Bochum, Museum Kunstpalais Düsseldorf, Museum of Applied Arts in Frankfurt, HMKV in Dortmund, EIGEN + ART Lab and CTM in Berlin, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź and CRP/ in Douchy-les -Mines. One of his latest projects is a travelling exhibition co-curated with Inke Arns for the Goethe-Institut: « The Border », that calls into question the dividing line between Asia and Europe in the former Soviet states. Since 2017 this exhibition was exhibited in St Petersburg, Moscow, Tashkent, Almaty, Krasnoyarsk (u.A.) and ended its trip in Erevan in 2019. His areas of interest range from new media to spiritism via "exhibitions that are not exhibitions". Most of his projects are related to everyday, pop or underground culture. He has been the German correspondent for the French magazine artpress since 2003.

8th October 2020

Надия Кааби-Линке. Возвращение к себе

interview

ru

1st October 2020

Aqil Abdullayev ilə müsahibə

interview

az

28th September 2020

Snap Out of The Past

interview

Interview with Agil Abdullayev
en

24th September 2020

Unfinished protest

interview

en

8th September 2020

День имеет право на конец

article

Вика Кравцова
ru

26th August 2020

Центр постсовесткой реабилитации

interview

ru

18th August 2020

Belarus streikt - Brief an die Arbeiter*innen

article

Anatoli Ulyanov
de

15th August 2020

Зварот культурных работніц і работнікаў Беларусі

article

by

14th August 2020

Within the borders

article

Olga Davydik
en

13th August 2020

Спусковой механизм

article

Антонина Стебур
ru

6th August 2020

МОЯ ВАГИНА. СВОБОДА ЕЕ ГОЛОСА

article

Галины Рымбу. Алина Копица.
ru

23rd July 2020

Adieu, Utopia

interview

Interview with Diana U
en

14th July 2020

Solidarity Asunder

article

Alex Fisher
en

8th July 2020

The Presence of Absence

article

Nadia Tsulukidze
en/ge

1st July 2020

The reality of real bodies

article

Sasha Shestakova
en

30th June 2020

THERE IS MORE THAN ONE GARAGE IN THE WORLD

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
en

26th June 2020

18 мая

article

Рух Зильберштерн
ru

18th June 2020

The Other East

article

Alexey Ulko
en

15th June 2020

Бумеранг колонизации

article

Виктория Кравцова
ru

9th June 2020

Hiding in a plain Sight

article

Sasha Shestakova
en

7th June 2020

Не-чужеродность чужих

article

Ира Конюхова
ru

6th June 2020

Аварийное оповещение

article

Тамара Хасанова
ru

5th June 2020

Вагітні революцією, взаємопов'язані та взаємозалежні

article

Дар'я Придибайло
ua

28th May 2020

ARTISTS FROM CENTRAL ASIA

text-only

our very special and very well selected editors pick
en

21st May 2020

Zero Line Of Sight

interview

Interview with Bella Sabirova
en

14th May 2020

PULLING OURSELVES OUT OF THE SWAMP

article

By Meder Akhmetov, Darina Manasbek, Philipp Reichmuth
en

5th May 2020

SLIT YOUR THROAT IN A SEMI-FICTIONAL FOG

article

Alex Fisher
en

30th April 2020

I am not toilet paper

interview

Conversation with Moldavian artist Tatiana Fiodorova
en

21st April 2020

Nude Art as a Mirror of Society

article

Lolisanam Ulugova
en

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
POLYPHONY, APRIL 15, 2020
DIANA LELONEK AND Edka Jarząb
ST()RE #12: DUSTY SLOGAN, MAY 1, 2020
SERGEY SHABOHIN
WE’LL MAKE IT, MARCH 20, 2020
PAWEŁ ŻUKOWSKI; PHOTOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTATION: GRZEGORZ WEŁNICKI AND GOSIA BIAŁOBRZYCKA
TWO/HALF, 2020
MONIKA DROŻYŃSKA
SELF-AGENCY, MARCH – MAY 2020
JAŚMINA WÓJCIK, JAKUB WRÓBLEWSKI
INNER PARTS OF FEATURES, MAY 19, 2020
JULIANA HÖSCHLOVÁ
THERE ARE LIMITS TO GROWTH (BUT NOT TO LOVE?), MAY, 2020
WERONIKA ZALEWSKA

Solidarity is for sale in Poland.

 

Jerzy Janiszewski’s 1980 logo for the Solidarity strike is printed on magnets, pens, and postcards on offer for a few zlotys in shops across the country, continuously absorbing meaning into its already flush coffers through infinite replication. Solidarity the movement/union/memory/party/motivation appears singular in Janiszewski’s graphic, capitalized and without punctuation. What if it became unbounded? In other words, what would happen if Solidarity became ‘Solidarity +’? Perhaps it would tick along the lines of Colectivo Acciones de Arte’s NO + (1983-), an art action in the form of an open text which Chileans opposing the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet were invited to complete “according to their specific social demands” (Hemispheric Institute). 

 

In a virtual exhibition launched last month, the Polish curators Katarzyna Różniak and Eliza Urwanowicz-Rojecka offer a vision of this possibility. Presented as part of Galeria Arsenał’s 2020 programme, the duo’s show, Solidarity and agency, brings together a cohort of twenty artists and artist collectives, fourteen hailing from Poland, two from both Belarus and Ukraine, and one each from the Czech Republic and Russia. Solidarity and agency attends to the function of community—how it meets, matches, and moves with the moment in Białystok, in a facility set aside for repatriated Poles, on patios, in deserted streets, and fictional renderings. Fluctuation fuels the show. Notably, the fluctuation the curators hone in on is not one associated with downtrodden devolution, but adamant development… change which ameliorates deficiencies.

 

Communities come in many shapes and sizes and with varying degrees of enfranchisement, products of shared passion often cultivated in clubhouses and forums. The community Solidarity and agency envisions is simultaneously place-based and placeless; the exhibition is affiliated with an institution, yet exists where its participants have been frozen in or have stolen away to. Art, activist, apartment, and agronomic communities merge in mutual emotions ranging from exhilaration to malcontent. 

POLYPHONY, APRIL 15, 2020
DIANA LELONEK AND Edka Jarząb

 

Solidarity and agency operates via vertical scroll and starts with an image of a red lightning strike—the cover photo of Diana Lelonek and Edka Jarząb’s Polyphony (2020). The work, which is represented in the show in a 3’19’’ video and a 4’20’’ audio track, is one of several that addresses the coinciding of COVID-19 with Poland’s volatile presidential election cycle, which was stained with vitriolic rhetoric. Polyphony is a response to the Law and Justice-dominated Polish government’s pandemic-timed attempt to ratify a strict anti-abortion law. Lelonek, Jarząb, and a host of co-participants voice their objection, shouting “fight the virus, not the women!” With regards to the audio track, the separation of the voice from the figure of the person producing the voice has the effect of making the chant louder. Since the look is absent, the sound reaches further. In the video, the chant has more to compete with, visually (the speakers often occupy very little of the frame) and sonically (wind which threatens to blow out the recording device’s speakers, car horns, etc.) Like the lightning strike which has come to represent the organized opposition to the anti-abortion law, the chant comes from the sky; the participants often speak from their balconies. Nevertheless, the aerial position is not coupled with an aloof attitude; ‘fight the virus, not the women’ is level and unequivocal.

 

It is fellow Poles who proposed the perilous policy Lelonek, Jarząb, and company react to—the politicians in the halls of power. The artists appeal for altruism while admonishing those responsible, offering those liable an opportunity to absolve themselves if they absorb and assent to the message. In his contribution to the exhibition, ST()RE #12: Dusty Slogan (2020), Sergey Shabohin takes a different tack.

ST()RE #12: DUSTY SLOGAN, MAY 1, 2020
SERGEY SHABOHIN

 

Dusty Slogan takes the form of a three-plus story carpet inscribed with the phrase ‘hell is other people’ written in all capitals. In Solidarity and agency, the carpet is represented on its own and in a rendering in which it ‘hangs’ over the railing of a top floor flat in an apartment complex, ‘blowing’ in the breeze. In the statement accompanying the work, the artist suggests that the slogans we have been accustomed to need “ventilation” in order to avoid becoming stale, staid, sedate, or stained past a point of no return. Thrust into the open, “Dusty Slogan” retches frustration. Given the age we are in, rightly so. There are those you can’t stand and refuse to act conciliatory towards. Give them hell for their bigotry. Call them hell for their complacency. Yet know that the more you say hell, the more hell can become you. A devil lurks beneath the veneer of the preacher at the bully pulpit. Paweł Żukowski says “we’ll make it;” Shabohin says our we wasn’t all it was made out to be. 

WE’LL MAKE IT, MARCH 20, 2020
PAWEŁ ŻUKOWSKI; PHOTOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTATION: GRZEGORZ WEŁNICKI AND GOSIA BIAŁOBRZYCKA

 

As stated in the text, Dusty Slogan doesn’t acquiesce—it others. Not a party, but people. Not those people. Those people. But it doesn’t do so in a way which discriminates against one people in particular. This unaffiliated character owes to 1) the fact that a carpet is not something you are supposed to salute, but step on and 2) its color way: beige background with brown letters. It is not red and white like the flag of Poland (or the Belarusian People’s Republic), blue with yellow accents for Europe, or rainbow. Shabohin’s message is camouflaged from prevailing/preceding ideology. Subsequently, it is stealth, surreptitiously affecting beyond stereotypes.

 

The act of being stealthy is a form of agency. Those who are and that which is stealth can arrive, detect, do, and depart without being detected, invited, or approved. In her 160x220cm embroidery Two/Half (2020), Monika Drożyńska compels her audience to resist the temptation to shirk responsibility and slink in selfish obscurity through the shadows.

 

TWO/HALF, 2020
MONIKA DROŻYŃSKA

Two/Half is a cotton codex urging caution in COVID-19 times, albeit with an asterisk noting its glyphs are not authoritative. “I do’nt know” (sic) is written in dense repetition. Two thick streams of water pour from symmetrically placed faucets amidst the likes of slithering tongues, pinky promises, stoplights, and roses. The curators bill the work as an “embroidery document,” quoting the artist as saying it is an “attempt at recording the surrounding reality, different from anything I had experienced before.” Such an explanation imparts the idea that agency is not only a product of gestation but the process of gestation—engagement as the formulation of familiarity with what was previously alien. Notably, Drożyńska then pairs “Two/Half” with a product of the processing: “Two” (2020), a flag festooned with an embroidered peace/victory sign with an arrow and ‘2M’ filling the space between the two fingers. Optimistically encouraging social distancing, “Two” hangs above the entranceway to Galeria Arsenał. 

 

Notions of confinement, density, and overlap saturate Solidarity and agency. There is a sense that we are all up in one another’s business. In Self-Agency (2020), Jaśmina Wójcik and Jakub Wróblewski escape from the city to Wójcik’s parents’ house in the countryside. The work pairs a ten-minute narrative spoken by Wójcik with animation by Wróblewski. The narrative is a reflection on Wójcik and her family’s gardening-centric quarantine. Leaving behind the world which heretofore occupied the loadshare of their time, they create a world of their own, planting rhubarb, building insect hotels, and up-cycling scrap into a stage. Wójcik’s is a narrative of abundance and kinship that basks in its own fertility. Wróblewski’s monochrome animation drains the color from the cornucopia. The animation, a byproduct of a 3D scan, is a slow pan around a seated figure with their legs crossed and a figure standing adjacent in a bounteous backyard. The scene is not exactly aspirational—the flora and fauna are represented such that they seem to be covered in ash and/or as if they have become bleached coral. Nine minutes and thirty-eight seconds into her reflection, Wójcik summarizes that “becoming self-sufficient proved to be a wondrous experience.” Her garden filled her with life and is full of life. The animation renders the experience into an Arsham Edition… crisp, cold, and cadaverous. The frost arrives before the harvest. Will the legacy of the labour be as sweet if you can’t taste its fruit? 

 

SELF-AGENCY, MARCH – MAY 2020
JAŚMINA WÓJCIK, JAKUB WRÓBLEWSKI

Wójcik and Wróblewski’s Self-Agency probes what it is to nourish a spoiled/spoilt/spoiling climate. The situation of artistic creation in an imperilled climate similarly forms the basis of Juliana Höschlová’s practice. The Prague-based Czech artist, who is a founder of Hyperaktiv Studios, is represented in Solidarity and agency by an open-ended suite of daily drawings—Inner Parts of Features (March 21, 2020-); the exhibition features all works in the series made through May 19th. Begun in the aftermath of a break-up which occurred at the outset of the quarantine, the drawings are buffeted by wind and water. The former is a palpable presence in the works—outlines of figures drifting from center to periphery as columns of air push them from above and from side-to-side. The latter is the work; Höschlová draws the water for her watercolours “from a stream in the Krkonoše Mountains to avoid using potable water.” The figures themselves are rarely whole. Usually, they are in pieces… an eye here, a brain there. Inner Parts of Features shows a subject for whom habit is hard to come by. May 6th was high tide. May 7th was heated introspection. May 8th was tangled. Day to day and month to month, the ebbs ebb and the flows flow.

 

The saturation of the custom-built website Solidarity and agency—designed by Michał Szota with graphic support by Ewa Chacianowska—is trending towards the top. In her 5’25’’ video animation There are limits to growth (but not to love?) (2020), Weronika Zalewska takes it higher still. Combining the artist’s own “loosely phrased thoughts” on “the capacity to engage in collective, alternative, community artistic practices, and their clash with systemic and structural restrictions” with clips from an interview with the School of Love, a platform of “practices that stem from reflections on the notion of love as a public concern and a political being” which the artist is a member of, the work pulls at costumed heartstrings. Love is the message, the message is transcendent. Zalewska muses on “unpredictable love,” “political love,” and “social love” via the visage of Instagram filters. She exalts “love as a modus operandi” on a social media platform often used for expressing narcissism, falsely understood as self-love, and then admits “how naive that sounds” while her face is merged with that of the Statue of Liberty. She ponders what it would be like to not “just be a pawn in some game” while appearing as a floating prawn in a supermarket. Eventually, Zalewska surmises that “being able to experiment with life is a matter of privilege sometimes.” It is a matter of time and place and the company you keep and create. There are limits to growth (but not to love?) elucidates that it is also a matter of masks. 

 

INNER PARTS OF FEATURES, MAY 19, 2020
JULIANA HÖSCHLOVÁ

Zalewska is über-masked, manifesting how masks virally manipulate the agency of the mind and the critical mass, veering between outlandish and earnest, sincere and superficial. The artist reminds that a mask is a makeup and a mockup, a solution and a trick. Some masks are ‘of the moment.’ Subsequently, they have a tendency to become relics. Rituals and regimes are read into their carved or stitched expressions. 

 

There are many masks in Solidarity and agency. Masks that have split at the seams. Individual masks and coalition masks. Masks that are sewn together and made anew. In so doing, the exhibition insinuates that Solidarity, the movement, and solidarity, the moral, are themselves masks—covers that exaggerate expression while reining in individual ego.

 

With regards to solidarity, the more masks the better as their effect appreciates through accumulation. So long as the intention for wearing each mask is sound. 

 

Of course, the profile of a sound intention is up for debate—a byproduct of instinct and conscience as much as facts and figures. Protectionism is prone to Trump proactivity. 

 

Ultimately, the intention is elective. Sunday’s election revealed the proximity of poison and fertilizer... two intentions separated by approximately two-point-two percentage points. Solidarity has been torn asunder more than ever before, as participation in the process of its (un)ma(s)king has reached a new maximum. 

 

Solidarity and agency implies that even in pieces, solidarity still has a purpose. But that it can only survive in that shattered state for so long.

 

 

 

Solidarity and agency is jointly curated by Katarzyna Różniak and Eliza Urwanowicz-Rojecka. The online exhibition opened June 1, 2020 and extends indefinitely. The show is translated into Polish and English and is produced by Galeria Arsenał (Białystok, Poland).


Alex Fisher is an art historian, writer, and curator from Buffalo, New York based in Kyiv, where he is researching Ukrainian contemporary art as a Fulbright scholar affiliated with IZOLYATSIA and Mystetskyi Arsenal.

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