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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

Ira Konyukhova

Ira Konyukhova is an artist, writer and instagram feminist activist. She studied Physics in Moscow and fine art in Mainz, Reykjavik and Media Art and Media Theory at Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (HFG), which she finished with diploma in 2017. In her practice, she explores the connection between female sexuality, pop-resilience and colonial technological practices which are embodied mainly but not only in video, sculpture and installation. Her works have been presented on various international festivals and exhibitions, including DocLisboa, Athens Biennale, Teneriffa Espacio del Arte, Exground Film Festival e.t. Konyukhova was a grantee of Rhineland-Palatinate Media and Film Promotion Prize, BS Projects Residence Program as well ifa travel grant.

Ina Hildebrandt

Ina Hildebrandt is an art historian and cultural journalist. Born in Kazakhstan, she grew up as a so-called Russian-German in the south of Germany. After spending years of total assimilation she developed a strong interest in her cultural roots. Several long travels and stays took her to Easter-Europe over Russia to Central-Asia. Thereby she started to focus more on those regions also as art historian and journalist. She lives and works in Berlin. 

Tamara Khasanova

Tamara Khasanova is an emerging art professional and aspiring young curator. Born in Ukraine into a Ukrainian-Uzbek family, and later moving to the UK and the US early in life, she was exposed to various social dynamics while perceiving everything through the lens of her cultural legacy. This experience led her to question ideas surrounding cultural hegemony, national identity, and globalisation in the context of Post-Socialist states. In her professional and academic practice, she is concerned with a lack of representation of Eastern European and Central Asian regions on a large scale and committed to developing a sustainable dialogue between parts of the world so dear to her heart. Currently, she is doing a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Studio Art in San Francisco, CA. She starts her M.A. program in Curatorial Practice at the School of Visual Arts, New York this Fall.

Pavel Metelitsyn

Pavel Metelitsyn is a software engineer and developer focusing on interactive data presentation, user interfaces and web technologies. He is driven by the idea of making the information more accessible through interactivity and gamification. Working together with creative agencies he implemented interactive multimedia stations for Neues Historisches Museum, Frankfurt/Main, made a kiosk app for a permanent exhibition at Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, Frankfurt/Main. Besides that, he works with a wide range of clients from FinTech Startups to national research institutions, helping them to collect, process and present the business information. Pavel holds an M.Sc. in Mathematics.

Sascia Reibel

Sascia Reibel is a graphic and product designer. Her focus lays on printed matter, especially books and posters, with a strong dedication for typography. She engages in projects within the field of culture, art, and education. She studies communication design at the University of Art and Design Karlsruhe and has also studied in the design master program of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China. Her work has been honoured with several awards, including «Most Beautiful Swiss Books», «Most Beautiful Books from all over the world», «Bronze Nail, ADC», as well as the «Badge of Typographic Excellence, TDC New York.

Lina Iliaeva

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

Thibaut de Ruyter

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

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. Iryna was collaborating with TransitoryWhite as a UX- and marketing adviser between January and October 2020.

 

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. Chinara was doing an internship at TransitoryWhite in July 2020.

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. Daria was working with TransitoryWhite as an editor and advisor on Ukrainian art scene since December 2019 till October 2020.

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. Willi was collaborating with TransitoryWhite as editor and adviser since March 2019 till July 2020.

Sholpan Zhanuzakova

After a 20 year career in the global corporate sector, Sholpan gained an MA Degree in Contemporary Art in 2017. She is based in London and is currently an independent researcher. Her trans-disciplinary research interests include Industrial Colonization of Kazakhstan and The Effects of Colonialism on Language. Sholpan holds an MBA Degree and consults in Art & Business Strategy & Communications. She worked at the Education Department of documenta 14 in 2017. Sholpan holds a university degree in Language Studies as well. Sholpan was helping with sales strategy in November 2020.

26th July 2021

Розмова з авторами "Чорнобильдорф" Романом Григорівим та Іллею Разумейком

interview

uk

30th June 2021

Schreiben gegen die Gleichgültigkeit

article

In Hildebrandt
de

14th June 2021

I am out of politics?

article

Art activism in Russia during the pandemic
Antonina Stebur
en

28th May 2021

Этот переход закрыт

article

Ира Конюхова
ru

22nd May 2021

Such a distant home

interview

en

19th May 2021

Неотчужденный интернациональный труд как самая большая утопия

article

Бермет Борубаева
ru

5th May 2021

Метаболічне Зображення

article

ОЛЕКСІЙ КУЧАНСЬКИЙ
ua

29th April 2021

Каталогизация неофольклора

interview

Интервью с Фархадом Фарзалиевым
ru

21st April 2021

Лаборатории komaxи

article

Nastey Teor и Алексей Кучанский
ru

9th April 2021

R¥TŲ €UROPO$ €GZOTIKA

article

Dovilė Aleksandravičiūtė
lt

5th April 2021

Экспонируя территорию

article

музей между локальной историей и дискурсом современности
Татьяна Бурлаченко
ru

18th March 2021

Революция в будуаре

article

Анастасия Патапкина
ru

15th March 2021

You are not alone in your monologue

article

Vica Kravtsova and Kira Shmyreva
en

23rd February 2021

Ортостатичний колапс

article

Олексій Кучанський
ua

29th January 2021

Das junge Herz des Protestierenden

article

Anastasia Kalk
de

26th January 2021

Бороться за воздух, деревья, слова

interview

Интервью с коллективом БиШСИ
ru

19th January 2021

Looking to the horizon

article

Kateryna Iakovlenko
en

12th January 2021

Вирус независимости варшавского арт-сообщества

interview

ru

4th January 2021

Манипулятивный конструкт

article

Анастасия Бергалевич
ru

26th October 2020

Тайный музей профсоюзного и рабочего движения

article

Алексей Борисёнок
ru

8th October 2020

Надия Кааби-Линке. Возвращение к себе

interview

ru

1st October 2020

Aqil Abdullayev ilə müsahibə

interview

az

28th September 2020

Snap Out of The Past

interview

Interview with Agil Abdullayev
en

24th September 2020

Unfinished protest

interview

en

8th September 2020

День имеет право на конец

article

Вика Кравцова
ru

26th August 2020

Центр постсовесткой реабилитации

interview

ru

18th August 2020

Belarus streikt - Brief an die Arbeiter*innen

article

Anatoli Ulyanov
de

15th August 2020

Зварот культурных работніц і работнікаў Беларусі

article

by

14th August 2020

Within the borders

article

Olga Davydik
en

13th August 2020

Спусковой механизм

article

Антонина Стебур
ru

6th August 2020

МОЯ ВАГИНА. СВОБОДА ЕЕ ГОЛОСА

article

Галина Рымбу и Алина Копица
ru

23rd July 2020

Adieu, Utopia

interview

Interview with Diana U
en

14th July 2020

Solidarity Asunder

article

Alex Fisher
en

8th July 2020

The Presence of Absence

article

Nadia Tsulukidze
en/ge

1st July 2020

The reality of real bodies

article

Sasha Shestakova
en

30th June 2020

THERE IS MORE THAN ONE GARAGE IN THE WORLD

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
en

26th June 2020

18 мая

article

Рух Зильберштерн
ru

18th June 2020

The Other East

article

Alexey Ulko
en

15th June 2020

Бумеранг колонизации

article

Виктория Кравцова
ru

9th June 2020

Hiding in a plain Sight

article

Sasha Shestakova
en

7th June 2020

Не-чужеродность чужих

article

Ира Конюхова
ru

6th June 2020

Аварийное оповещение

article

Тамара Хасанова
ru

5th June 2020

Вагітні революцією, взаємопов'язані та взаємозалежні

article

Дар'я Придибайло
ua

28th May 2020

ARTISTS FROM CENTRAL ASIA

text-only

our very special and very well selected editors pick
en

21st May 2020

Zero Line Of Sight

interview

Interview with Bella Sabirova
en

14th May 2020

PULLING OURSELVES OUT OF THE SWAMP

article

By Meder Akhmetov, Darina Manasbek, Philipp Reichmuth
en

5th May 2020

SLIT YOUR THROAT IN A SEMI-FICTIONAL FOG

article

Alex Fisher
en

30th April 2020

I am not toilet paper

interview

Conversation with Moldavian artist Tatiana Fiodorova
en

21st April 2020

Nude Art as a Mirror of Society

article

Lolisanam Ulugova
en

14th April 2020

Камуфляж. Педагогіка ксенофілії

article

Олексій Кучанський
ua

7th April 2020

The last sparks

article

Ivan Isaev
en

6th April 2020

Leah Peirce

article

en

29th March 2020

Трансграничная миграция заботы

article

пандемия после 8 марта
Мария Дмитриева
ru

25th March 2020

Transboundary migration of care

article

pandemia after 8th of March
Maria Dmitrieva
en

9th March 2020

(It would be) NICE TO MEET YOU, TOO

article

Anna Kamay and Melikset Panosian
en

5th March 2020

Open Letter by PinchukArtCentre Trade Union members

article

en

26th February 2020

The shift of the paradigm in modern Central Asian art

article

Alexey Ulko
en

4th February 2020

Embrace Your Antithesis

interview

Interview with Slavs and Tatars
en

1st February 2020

Chakras of Tbilisi

article

Laura Arena
en

29th January 2020

2019 Curator's choice

article

en

17th January 2020

On the loop

interview

Interview with Gago Gagoshidze
en

23rd December 2019

"Мы сёння знаходзімся ў іншай вытворчай драме"

interview

Работай Больше! Отдыхай Больше!
by

5th December 2019

Another production drama

interview

Interview with WORK HARD! PLAY HARD! working group
en

20th November 2019

Wandering poetics of Central Asian mestizas

interview

Interview with Krëlex Zentre
en

6th November 2019

Conversation with Julieta Aranda and Anna Kamay

interview

en

1st November 2019

Über die Sprache der Vorherrschaft

interview

ein Gespräch mit Medina Bazargali
de

29th October 2019

Where the roses grow

interview

Interview with Almagul Menlibaeva
en

25th October 2019

On language of supremacy: Medina Bazargali in conversation

interview

en

10th October 2019

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

interview

part two
en

1st October 2019

There Is Sex After Soviet Union! (German)

article

Ira Konyukhova
de

26th September 2019

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

interview

part one
en

6th September 2019

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

interview

en

1st July 2019

Juggling Dinosaurs

article

The precariousness of motherhood in arts
Anna Kamay
en

24th June 2019

Interview with Elene Abashidze

interview

en

14th June 2019

Unfortunately, we cannot pay for your flight and accommodation

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
en

28th May 2019

Ich liebe dich!

article

Antonina Stebur
de

17th May 2019

Interview with Anna Vahrami

interview

en

23rd April 2019

Artist Portrait: Anastasia Akhvlediani

portrait

en

13th April 2019

Artist Portrait: Alisa Berger

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
en

21st March 2019

Faig Ahmed

interview

de

18th March 2019

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Christopher Colombus, Shooting Back series, metal staples on abandoned wood, 80 x 115 cm, 2004
Sasha Huber
Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, Shooting Back series, metal staples on abandoned wood, 80 x 115 cm, 2004
Sasha Huber
Katerina Verba's family after their return from deportation, 1970s.
Photo from the personal archive
Installation shot of Cypress Rehabilitation, Katerina Verba, 2021
Photo by Lilith Matevosyan
Sasha Huber, Rentyhorn, video, 4:30 min, 2008
Photo by Siro Micheroli. Courtesy of the artist and Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Katerina's family home in Crimea bought back and restored
Photo from the personal archive of Katerina Verba

Such a distant home

Sasha Huber, Katerina Verba, Elena Ishchenko, Maria Sarycheva and Joana Monbaron

22nd May 2021

In several online conversations, Katerina Verba and Sasha Huber talked about the search for their own identity through artistic practices, about the past as an unstable historical process that we can transform and change, and about art as a way of caring for the wounds borne by our ancestors. The dialogue between the two artists was mediated by the League of Tender - a fictional organization represented by curators Elena Ishchenko and Maria Sarycheva, which studies the concepts of care and play within various collectivities, as well as the independent curator Joana Monbaron.

Sasha Huber 

The starting point of my art journey was informed by my own situation of not being allowed to visit my mother’s home country. My mother is from Haiti, and my father is from Switzerland. The last time I was in Haiti was in 1987, when I was 12, and I always wanted to go again to visit my family that remained there. My mother said that it’s too dangerous and I could be kidnapped as it happened with two of our family members because of the poverty due to the political situation. Meanwhile I returned twice, but at the time it prompted me to look into Haiti’s history. I have my own background coming from completely different places — Switzerland and Haiti — assumingly as opposite as you can imagine. But there are actually links between the countries, which I learned about while reading the book by Hans Fässler about the Swiss involvement in slavery and the slave trade. The history of Haiti is also one that was and is still affected by colonialism. My engagement with a history relating to my own family history became from the start informed by a decolonial perspective. My artistic engagement has helped me to understand the history better and how it affects the present. It reminds me of the quote by Suketu Mehta: “We are here because you were there”.

 

There is a book  by Gloria Wekker about the role of the Dutch in colonialism. Wekker writes that there is a belief that you have to be white to be a “real” Dutch. But a huge number of the Dutch population is of African descent because of colonialism, yet to this day, Black people are not seen as Dutch. The same paradox  applies to many other countries too. Thus it provokes a situation where you feel like you don’t belong  because you do not fit into stereotypical notions of what it means to be Swiss or Dutch or whatever. That's why Black Lives Matter is so invaluable as a movement — we don’t live in a society where everybody is equal. Somebody says: all lives matter. Yes, of course, in an ideal world all do, but because it’s not like that we can’t say it. We have this situation of fighting for equality, which is not about revenge. It is about being equal and seen as a whole human being. I react artistically on behalf of my ancestors that still live in me.  I have an opportunity to give them a voice, eliminate generational silence.  

 

I have a very mixed heritage from my mother’s side being, Taíno, African, French, German — the Caribbean is a huge melting pot. Im very much drawn to my African heritage. One area I have been engaging in within my work is to understand the origin of racism and how it affects the community. So, for me, the theme of decolonization evolved automatically because of my own history. 

 

Christopher Colombus, Shooting Back series, metal staples on abandoned wood, 80 x 115 cm, 2004
Sasha Huber

I portrayed Christopher Colombus and others, as it was a kind of an urgency which I wanted to react to. How could one interfere in such painful history or at least point out what happened — now in a very concrete way with Columbus and having this method of shooting back. For me personally it is a way to deconstruct this colonial ideology and start my dismantling process from the basis, which of course deals with this unbalanced power dynamics that is still in place When I showed my Haitian artist grandfather my portraits of the Shooting Back Series – Reflection on Haitian Roots, he said that he couldnt have done that kind of work at that time, because it would be dangerous for him. But Im in a moment of time and place where I can do that, where I can bring up these issues. This series is important for me because they were the starting point for me.

Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, Shooting Back series, metal staples on abandoned wood, 80 x 115 cm, 2004
Sasha Huber

Katerina Verba

For me, the question of decolonization of history is secondary. In my opinion, a person is always moving from private to shared, and starts from herself. It is interesting to observe that the question of identity is usually more critical to those who do not have a “pure” identity, those who are called half-blooded or mixed race. As if this matter is more important to them and they are looking for an answer to who they are and where they come from. When one starts to search for answers to these questions, one becomes aware of the necessity of decolonization, the emancipation from history.

 

It always seemed to me that my own identity of Crimean Tatar is a very personal story, but now I am leaving these constraints. It was not permissible to talk about it, and everyone tried to avoid indicating their nationality in passports and usually changed their Crimean Tatar surnames to Russian counterparts. These days I speak about it publicly, thus transcending this topic from the personal practice to the public artistic field.

 

My last work, Cypress Rehabilitation, is dedicated to my identity and the history of the people I belong to. For many years, Crimean Tatars existed under repressive circumstances. And only in the 1990s were they given an opportunity to return to their land, yet not to their homes. Now we are trying to get them back. In the 1950s the Crimean region witnessed massive deforestation of cypress trees, which at the time were believed to be poisonous. My family and other Crimean Tatars used wood in the construction of houses. The trees were ravaged on Stalin’s order, and although the objective behind this decision is still unclear to this very day, a couple of versions circulate. The first version speculates that Stalin believed that cypress trees were overtly bourgeois. According to the second version, which was told to him by Roosevelt - charnel. The third version explains that the trees might’ve been a hideout for snipers, which was pointed out by Beria. I perceive the logging of cypresses as a symbolic counterpart to the deportation of Crimean Tatars, also initiated and executed on Beria’s order In this piece, I deploy a 200-300 years old cypress beam to sprout new young cypresses. The tree itself used for the beam is even older than that. This process becomes a symbol of the rehabilitation of cypress trees, which have the right to live just like Crimean Tatars do.

Katerina Verba's family after their return from deportation, 1970s.
Photo from the personal archive

 

I consider myself to be Russian, but I also have a Crimean Tatar heritage. My grandfather's family, together with other Crimean Tatars, was deported from Crimea on May 18, 1944.

 

I notice this desire for clear definitions around me: this is Russian, Tatar, Ukrainian. Yet, the idea of "pure" blood in the modern world is non-existent: if one examines the DNA of any inhabitant of this planet, one will discover the combination of different genes. Many ethnicities came from the amalgamation of various nationalities, including Crimean Tatars.

Sasha Huber 

Yes, it's a very interesting point. People usually want to know from which country you come from in order to easily put you in a box. When you visually differ from being white, which is still seen as the norm — they ask you what country you come from, what my ethnicity is. And when I say I come from Switzerland they dont look happy with the answer: you dont look Swiss, what’s your mix?

 

My friend Lesley-Ann Brown, who is a poet, writer, and educator, gave a lecture once where she invited the audience to say the word "country" many times outloud. Country — country — cuntry — cunt-tree — suddenly you hear the word cunt” and the word "tree". Lesley-Ann says instead of saying from which country, nation or state you come from you could say the name of your mother — from which cunt you come from, which mother gave birth to you. Thats the place we come from. And there will be this motherstree. Lesley-Ann invited the audience to remember those mothers. What are their names? How far back can you remember their names? Ok, I can tell my mother, my grandmother, her mother — and unfortunately thats all. This is about humanity. Were all unique, we all come from different people, and I feel its really nice when one starts to think like this. The European way of thinking about family trees is based on fathersnames. The women lose their own names, they are not in the tree. A daughter loses her family name because she marries a man, and she joins another family tree. Its interesting how that mother tree suggests a different point of view. 

 

The European tradition of tracing family trees relies on patrilineality. Thus, it’s interesting how Brown’s mother tree suggests a different point of view. 

Katerina Verba

This made me think of a joke that goes like this: a woman says that she wants to keep her maiden name, but a man responds to her, “Your maiden name is your father’s family name. You never had your own family name anyway.”

Installation shot of Cypress Rehabilitation, Katerina Verba, 2021
Photo by Lilith Matevosyan

 

Maria Sarycheva

This is a very dark joke! When you were describing the tree of cunts, I remembered how I was sitting and talking with my father once. I found this picture in our family photo album, which depicted some unfamiliar women, and I wanted to ask him about them. When I did, he couldn't remember who they were. He could only remember their father's names (patronyms). But it was impossible to recall their actual names. 

Sasha Huber 

I think in some African countries, there is not the patriarchy, but a matriarchy in which the women are those who are leading. And there, the oral transmission of family members and stories is passt down from generation to generation. It is interesting and what I feel a lot: it is an important work when one engages with these histories so that they dont get lost. And I think art can be a good way of helping this. Usually there is one person in each family who is interested in family history and ancestry, it is not an artist in that sense but anyhow it is the person who keeps the family together well. And usually when that person dies, someone else should be interested in it and continue. It is in the interest of the families to make sure that there is someone who is going to do that. I have worked with family members. For example, my mother suddenly sent me three short stories explaining, kind of anecdotes of family members. Shes 81, shes now the eldest, and she feels that I value these histories so she shares them with me. I call them micro histories, those family histories.

 

I also remember that Katya was expressing her difficulties with all these categories of people through different races etc. I also find it problematic. There is this book, "The Mismeasure of Man" by Stephen Jay Gould in which it is explained how scientific racism was invented to create categories, and to try to figure out which race was the most intelligent one, and convince that the white race stands above, and blacks are inferior and everything in between. It is a huge mistake that happened with these pseudo sciences and it takes so much energy to try to correct that mistake. That is also why I engage with the Demounting Agassiz campaign because it focuses on one of the persons with responsible and highlights that history. This helps me to understand why we still have these problems with racism today and that’s why anti-racism is so important today as it actively helps to tackle racism. Art reflects our humanity. I heard that recently and I feel that it is very true. 

Sasha Huber, Rentyhorn, video, 4:30 min, 2008
Photo by Siro Micheroli. Courtesy of the artist and Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

 

In 2007 Hans Fässler founded the Demounting Louis Agassiz campaign addressing the history of this racist scientist from Switzerland, who was a glaciologist and geologist - that is why about eighty places, even on the Moon and on Mars, and more than 7 species are named after him. He was born in 1807 in Switzerland and in 2007 there were celebrations and exhibitions devoted to him, but all of these events completely missed that he was a very influential racist of the XIX century, after he emigrated to the U.S. in 1846.

The idea of the campaign was to rename the Agassizhorn, a mountain in the Swiss Alps, and to name it Rentyhorn. Renty was an enslaved Congolese man. In 1850 Agassiz commissioned photographs of Renty and six further men and women stripped naked from all the sides. With these photographs, which were the first photographic pictures of enslaved people, Agassiz wanted to ‘prove’ the inferiority of black people. The aim was to rename the mountain in Renty’s honour and to those who lived through similar faiths. This story felt very personal to me because in my family we also had enslaved people. The campaign’s founder wrote letters to all needed officials which were met without support. It was then when I decided to take action. I made a sign with the new name and installed it on the peak of the mountain and symbolically renamed the mountain in a physical way. When I made this first reparative intervention, I didnt know that this will become an ongoing, over a decade long project, like a kind of a mission. All the works I made in close cooperation with Hans Fässler as my advisor.

Elena Ishchenko

To comment on this concept of mixed race: I think about an artist group, kreolex.center, that consists of two artists from Kazakhstan - Maria Vilkoviskaya and Ruthia Jenrbekova - who are now based in Vienna. They place the concept of creolity at the core of their artistic and theoretical practices. They think of creolity as a methodology of mixing different heritages that grants an opportunity to be more open to different definitions and take different roles, imaginaries, and identities. Creolity is a method for overcoming the trauma of colonization. Now we are all creole people. I think that it is fascinating how these mixed-race and mixed-identities can become a source for imagination. 

Sasha Huber 

It is interesting that they use the word "creole". As far as I know, creole originally refers to the ethnic groups from the colonial era who originated from West Africa and French colonies.

Maria Sarycheva

Yes, they use it as imagery since it also corresponds to their individual biographies. For instance, one of the duo’s members, Maria Vilkoviskaya, is a Russian who started to live on the territory of Kazakhstan during soviet period, she grew up being Russian in Kazakhstan. After Kazakhstan got autonomy and separated from the USSR, during the 90s, she stayed there. She has family there and a Kazakh passport, but the whole policy of contemporary Kazakhstan moved to a portrayal of the soviet regime as an enemy, as a dictator regime. And the other member of the duo, Ruthia Jenrbekova, is a Kazakh, born in Kazakhstan. So for them, I suppose that the notion of “creole” is a metaphor so that they can be equal as a duo, no matter what you experienced or where you were born, you are equal inside your collective work. 

 

But also, when we were talking about kreolex and how to be half-blooded, mixed-raced etc. I also think of other experiences in society, which deal with a strict dichotomy, like experiences of bisexuality for example, or transgender, or non-binary sexuality. I am also working a lot with the community of deaf people, and it is a really complex community, which is often hierarchical, in which partially hearing people are sometimes perceived as others by those who are deaf. But at the same time, they know sign language, and thus they are also part of the deaf culture. And when you were describing this internal conflict, it helps me to not only consider this historically, but also to look at this in-between situation in various contemporary forms.

Joana Monbaron

 

The other day I was listening to some demographers. Interestingly, Emmanuel Todd predicts that in twenty years in America, the majority of the population would become mixed race. This is probably something at stake today, when you look at Trump’s supporters and the fears of the “little white men”: whether they will be overcome by something else, and what it means in terms of their dominating position. And that’s maybe what makes things even more tense today. For me, when you think of the history of humanity as a bigger picture, the fact that people have always been moving, and mixing with each other, and that, as many anthropological studies show, we are all coming from the African continent in the first place, is something that allows you to understand that people have always coexisted in various forms. But for some people on the other hand, it is a source of stress and anxiety about the way the world will be reorganised within a few years and how they can keep it as it is now. These questions are crucial. 

Elena Ishchenko

I would like to add by returning to the role of art within this process. I think that the exploration of one’s own identity or return to the experiences of those who were colonized, deported or repressed, gives a chance to conceive creolization as an opportunity. In this case, artistic projects play a crucial role in the speculative exploration of complex identities. 

Katerina's family home in Crimea bought back and restored
Photo from the personal archive of Katerina Verba

 

I would like to initiate a museum and residency program in my ancestor’s house in Crimea in order to invite my friends there to research the local context.

Katerina Verba

I think that everyone wants not only for the problems, pains, or joys to gain visibility but for the visibility itself to be followed by an actual action - everyone is longing for justice. Our return to the past, our desire to correct mistakes, to decolonize history, for the most part, is a desire for justice. It seems it has several prerequisites. For some, it is seemingly a pursuit of revenge, a vendetta, or, as they say, "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" Art, in this sense, becomes the opportunity for revenge, like in Sasha’s works with a stapler, where she is seemingly shooting everyone guilty of colonization and past dictatorships. I impede myself from making a work that would portray as pigs the leaders, the perpetrators of the deportation of Crimean Tatars - Stalin, Beria - as a way to reverse the dirty tricks they used against muslim people. I try to follow another trajectory in which I don’t perpetuate the mutual resentment and make peace instead. And it is not easy. In both cases, we can introduce a person who is not an artist to care about these issues by creating art. She can be occupied with other important things - treating, building, growing crops - yet she also carries unresolved internal issues that can be asked, and perhaps solved, on her behalf again and again by artists.

Sasha Huber 

I was saying earlier about revenge and it’s not about revenge itself, it’s more about gaining equality. Shooting back still deals with it, it feels like a non-violent revenge, it’s a metaphor, and the title, Shooting back responds to that. I very soon stopped working in portraying those men. I realised that it doesn’t feel right to spend the energy to create their images. But instead of telling the histories of people who had already been heard, I decided to tell the histories that have been silenced. This change in approach is happening exactly because of similar reasons, as Katia’s, that it should be more about healing, caring for those wounds. So the stapling becomes a stitching of those wounds rather than bullets. 

Maria Sarycheva

That’s interesting that you correct yourself while speaking about healing. What’s the difference between the process of healing and the process of caring for the wounds?

Sasha Huber 

Healing is a very big word. In a way it raises the question: can you ever heal from this kind of history? Of course, it can be about acknowledging those wounds. Complete healing is probably impossible. There is a saying that “time is supposed to heal, but that it is rather a burying” and another saying “They tried to bury us, but they didn't know we were seeds.” I find this to be a beautiful thought. That’s why I felt that care corresponds a bit better to what’s possible with the art with the situation where I personally participate. The descendant of an enslaved person I got to know after starting my artistic practice demonstrated the way art can have an impact on real life It’s not fiction. But it’s also something I couldn’t anticipate before. So it's also interesting that you don’t know exactly what will happen when you enlish what you do. That’s the power of the moment of letting out your creation and it’s getting life of its own. And when it happened it showed me that it is really possible to make work which is going to lead to caring and some sort of healing process. In this particular example being able to engage with a person who is directly affected and getting a powerful response! This is an amazing initiative you do about my great great great grandfather!

 

I like the idea that we have the ability to return to the past and change something in it. For my practice, it is pivotal to understand history not as something as fully formed and established but as something that can be continuously discussed. It is important to realize the privilege of having a voice to talk about who we are without hiding it.

Katerina Verba

I like this expression - “to care for the wounds.” It is impossible to resurrect something, to turn back history. So how can we work with the history that haunts us? It seems that we can only care for the wounds and accept ourselves for who we are. I recall Artur Zmijewski’s exhibition at the Typography Art Center in Krasnodar. It included videos that depict men, soldiers who fought in the Chechen war, and were injured and their missing body parts were replaced with prosthetic implants. Six videos, in which one follows limbless men while they are doing exercises and slowly undress, expose their physical absences. Once you appear in this space, surrounded by these video pieces, you become accustomed to sight; it does not frighten you anymore. We can not change the person, but we can shift her attitude toward herself and make her relationship with others less painful. As Sasha said earlier, it is crucial to seek ways to speak about this. When Lena and I were talking over my work about Crimean Tatars and the series of discussions within the exhibition’s framework, we thought about how important it is to invite representatives of Crimean Tatars diasporas as a way to avoid manipulations that at the moment are extremely active in the political field. The dispute around Crimean Tatars is actively used both from the Ukrainian and Russian sides. Nevertheless, it is exactly the artists who have the capacity to address these or other topics, not for their profitability but because they cannot remain silent.

 

The conversations took place within the framework of the "Aimless Sessions" project, supported by the Swiss Council for Culture "Pro Helvetia."

 

 

 

Sasha Huber is a visual artist of Swiss-Haitian heritage, born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1975. She lives and works in Helsinki, Finland. For more than 15 years, the artist Sasha Huber has been researching and reworking colonial history from Haiti, where her ancestors lived, to Switzerland, where she was born and studied. Since over a decade she is working on a project dedicated to the debunking of Louis Agassiz - known primarily as a natural scientist and glaciologist who also was an ardent supporter of colonialism and racial segregation, which did not stop naming many places after him all around the planet on the moon and on mars. She started this endeavor after joining the Demounting Louis Agassiz campaign as committee member in 2007.

 

Katerina Verba is an artist from Novorossiysk. She is dreaming of creating a memory museum in the house where her ancestors, deported Crimean Tatars, lived. Her project "Cypress Rehabilitation," which connects the personal history of her family, the legend of the shot down pilot Joseph Beuys, and the massive felling of cypress trees in Crimea in the 1950s, can be seen at the Training Fantasia exhibition at the Typography Center for Contemporary Art (Krasnodar).

 

 

Translated by Tamara Khasanova

Edited by Ira Konyukhova and Lina Iliaeva

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