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We're a team of eight artists, curators and critics with a broader network of art professionals on the post-soviet, post-communist and diasporic spaces. With our ability to grasp, to describe and to invert the sensable, we might be your best collaborator.

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Mission

 

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

Contributors

Victoria Kravtsova

Ira Konyukhova

Thibaut de Ruyter

Asli Samadova

Antonina Stebur

Alex Ulko

Katharina Wiedlack

People

Ina Hildebrandt

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

Irina Konyukhova

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

Pavel Metelitsyn

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

Sascia Reibel

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

Kundry Reif

Kundry Reif grew up in Vienna, Austria. Whilst studying cultural studies at university in Berlin she started to work in art collectives and galleries. Last year she went to work at the Goethe Institute in Tashkent, Uzbekistan for a year. Having never heard a lot about Central Asia before, this year abroad sparked her interest. Being back now, she misses Central Asian Kurt, and has decided that her favorite museum of all times is the Sawitsky Museum in Nukus, Uzbekistan. 

Willi Reinecke

Willi Reinecke is a film director, writer, and researcher on Lev Vygotsky's Psychology of Art at the Institute for East European Studies (Freie Universität Berlin). He is teaching at Szondi-Institute for Comparative Literature and Institute for East European Studies. He worked as assistant director of the documentary film "Familienleben" which premiered at Berlinale 2018. The film was nominated for German Documentary Film Award and was awarded prizes at Saratov Sufferings Festival (RU) and Neisse Filmfestival (GER). He's currently working on documentary films for Institute of Contemporary Art Yerevan and Deutsche Gesellschaft e.V.

Thibaut de Ruyter

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

Alexandra Vetter

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

Lioudmila Voropai

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

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This document was last updated on March 10, 2019

5th December 2019

Another production drama

interview

Interview with WORK HARD! PLAY HARD!

1st December 2019

SUBMISSIONS OPEN

interview

20th November 2019

Wandering poetics of Central Asian mestizas

interview

Interview with Krëlex Zentre

6th November 2019

Conversation with Julieta Aranda and Anna Kamay

interview

29th October 2019

Where the roses grow

interview

Interview with Almagul Menlibaeva

25th October 2019

On language of supremacy: Medina Bazargali in conversation

interview

16th October 2019

Interiors

portrait

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

10th October 2019

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

interview

part two

26th September 2019

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

interview

part one

6th September 2019

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

interview

12th July 2019

When there are no opputurnities, create your own Giardini

article

Asli Samadova

1st July 2019

Juggling Dinosaurs

article

The precariousness of motherhood in arts
Anna Kamay

24th June 2019

Interview with Elene Abashidze

interview

14th June 2019

Unfortunately, we cannot pay for your flight and accommodation

article

Thibaut de Ruyter

28th May 2019

Ich liebe dich!

article

Antonina Stebur

17th May 2019

Interview with Anna Vahrami

interview

23rd April 2019

Artist Portrait: Anastasia Akhvlediani

portrait

13th April 2019

Artist Portrait: Alisa Berger

article

Thibaut de Ruyter

21st March 2019

Faig Ahmed

interview

Interview geführt von Ira Konyukhova und Pavel Metelitsyn

18th March 2019

There Is Sex After Soviet Union!

article

Irina Konyukhova

11th March 2019

Interview mit Samvel Saghatelian

interview

Geführt von Ira Konyukhova

8th March 2019

Artist Portrait: Salome Dumbadze

portrait

4th March 2019

Interview mit Chinara Majidova

interview

Geführt von Ira Konyukhova

26th February 2019

East Wind - Art in the Former Soviet Republics

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
Anthropometric Data Simply Obtained, performance for two bodies and a loudspeaker, Body Discourses Symposium, University of Vienna, 2015
Photo by Zhanar Sekerbayeva
Rain of Perseids: Wedding of All With Everyone, ritual queer-performance, Almaty, 2017 (together with the Katipa Apai Temple of Arts)
Photo by Nicolas Harter
Rain of Perseids: Wedding of All With Everyone, ritual queer-performance, Almaty, 2017 (together with the Katipa Apai Temple of Arts)
Photo by Nicolas Harter
Intermedia, or How to set up cultural production on your own, theatrical presentation, Kazan, 2016, curator Ilmira Bolotyan
Photo by Yanka Smetanina
Intermedia, or How to set up cultural production on your own, theatrical presentation, Kazan, 2016, curator Ilmira Bolotyan
Photo by Yanka Smetanina

Wandering poetics of Central Asian mestizas

Interview with Krëlex Zentre

by Victoria Kravtsova

20th November 2019

Victoria Kravtsova

Maria, Ruth, thanks for this conversation happening! Let us start with your background. How did you start as artists and as curators, and what led you to the point you are now at with Krëlex Zentre?

Maria Vilkovisky

I have a classical education in music, I graduated from a conservatory and had been working in the musical theatre - before I stopped doing it completely at the moment I met Ruth. This was about 12 years ago, 2009 or so.

Ruth Jenrbekova

It was 2005 when our friend Denis Kolokol started a series of experimental music events and then an international festival of electronic music and media art in 2006 and 2007 in Almaty. After participating in this we began to work together. Experimental music was our common sphere — we both were musicians. Masha came from the side of a rather classical approach and poetry and I had an interest in synthesizers and was doing DJing. We began to do things together as “an artistic duo of an undetermined number of participants”.

Maria Vilkovisky

So as artists, we began with experimental music and performance. For example, our project Lecture on John Cage consisted of a four-hours long happening in a theatre, a “counter-monument” park installation and a musical album. 

Victoria Kravtsova

And how did you decide to start Krëlex Zentre? Where does the name come from?

Maria Vilkovisky

I got a job at the creative space “L.E.S” (“Forest”) where I was to be responsible for cultural content. We held several events there and then understood that in order to be not just “creative”, but also an independent artist-run space, “L.E.S” needs some theoretical grounds and concrete artistic policy. Then Krёlex Zentre appeared as an ideological platform, as an agenda we were interested in. 

Ruth Jenrbekova

It was our version of feminist identity politics. In Kazakhstan, we always had some issues with identity. Some think that we live in Kazakhstan and we are Uighurs, Russians, Germans, Kazakhs, but it is clear for me that there is no one like that, there are only people with passports. And so we started to use the metaphor of creoleness. I began to think about it because my family is a mixed one. And then I began to think how is it linked to colonization and look into the experiences of the peoples of the Caribbean. I found a book by Édouard Glissant (Poetics of Relation) where he writes about creolization and creoleness in connection to exile, errantry, nomadism, opacity and this “wandering poetics” seemed quite appropriate to our situation in Kazakhstan.

Maria Vilkovisky

Yes, in Kazakhstan cultural institutions are marked on a basis of the nationality: Russian Theatre, Alliance Française, Uighur Cultural Center and many more. But, what can those do, who do not want to be narrowed to one nationality or ethnicity? Creoleness for us is a mix of practices that happened in art, politics, philosophy, sociology.

Ruth Jenrbekova

Also, we have a strong connection to the concept of “queer”. One of the part of it is that it's all not completely serious - it's funny. Central Asia is not Central America or Southern Pacific or any other former European conquest, where the word “creoleness” historically belongs to. In Kazakhstan it sounds somewhat playful, too literary and artificial, like some kind of a joke. It is not a “solid” identity like Kazakh or Russian, it’s something more like a Jedi, a term for a roleplay. It is a way to talk about the impossibility of identity, of its fictitiousness. It is similar to the term “queer” — a name for those who do not want to define themselves in a particular way.

Victoria Kravtsova

How did it happen that you began to work with the Caribbean decolonial thought?

Ruth Jenrbekova

We were looking for ways to describe the current situation in Kazakhstan. After the country gained independence the question was in the air: how to define it now? There was an attempt to define everything in Kazakhstan as Kazakh - but I couldn’t say this was my culture. I also never would define myself as Russian or Ukrainian or Jew. So we started to look for answers and found the Latin American history. Mexico, the southern underbelly of the US-American empire seemed similar, and the Caribbean as well. I think the relationships between Central Asia and Russia are similar to those between Mexico and the USA. And then I discovered Gloria Anzaldua with her new mestiza who lives in the borderland - this entirely queer creature, in which I recognized myself. It was the same with Glissant, his ideas on Caribbean identity seemed very close to me. I felt there was nothing written here yet. If you would look for reading something from the postcolonial theory of Central Asia - you would not find much. And I began to look where it was reflected. So, in the beginning, what Krelёx Zentre did was adapting theories.

Victoria Kravtsova

Has the situation changed since then?

Ruth Jenrbekova

Since that time activists have appeared and all artists began to speak about the decolonial. The word became hip and everyone began to do projects about the Soviet times, condemning hunger and repressions. There are ethnically Kazakh artists who see decolonization as a struggle with the Soviet legacy. Here, one can rely on Mladina Tlostanova's writings. Her argument — in my simplistic interpretation — reduces the major colonizing power to the Soviets, who suppressed the uniqueness of all cultures other than Russian. We thought that it is more complex and that de-Sovietization does not mean decolonization. These are two different things. Positioning ourselves at the left side of the political spectrum, we cannot agree with such a simplified understanding of decolonization in Kazakhstan: after we get rid of everything Soviet, life will bloom here. I was interested in what to do with the multicultural aspect of the local culture because Kazakhstan was one of the most multinational Republics in the USSR.

Victoria Kravtsova

How then a different decolonial project in Kazakhstan could look like?

Maria Vilkovisky

I think it needs more time to pass. It is a question of the overturn of power. Now it is beneficial to demonize the Soviet heritage because it allows for a position of moral purity and justification of the current political regime. If the elites change, I am sure other opinions will appear. But right now these more complicated opinions are almost not visible. It is also due to a lack of theory — there is no academia of our own here. We need researchers able to describe the situation from the inside. 

Ruth Jenrbekova

Different decolonial optics is the one that sees the Soviet period as part of our histories, not as something that was brought here by Russians. Perhaps the new generation will be concerned with the issues of social inequality and interested in revising leftist ideas. For now, art and culture are still perceived as something that has nothing to do with politics in Kazakhstan.

Victoria Kravtsova

Speaking about the connection between local politics and art... There is a broad scope of literature that describes the dependency of contemporary NGOs and cultural institutions on grants. Would you also agree that financial resources determine the agenda of the artist in today’s Kazakhstan? Are you aware of the political agenda of the financial sources in the contemporary art scene in Almaty?

Maria Vilkovisky

Yes, we are, because the main commissioner for arts is our government. Akimat, the government, the Ministry of Culture and Sport, they all are pushing forward their topic which in the end is all about the glorification of a nation-state. Their initiatives are directed to the total depoliticization of artistic production so that it has little to do with the actual agenda anymore. Decolonization in the way I described it above fits into this agenda very well. In this sense, artists are getting influenced by the depoliticizing pressure of cultural institutes. It creates a situation when artists are only able to be critical towards the past, but not towards the present.

In activism, it is of course different. KazFem is pushing forward their own agenda, Feminita is tackling issues they consider important, for instance, research on the needs of LBT-women in Kazakhstan. Feminists, as far as I see, are much more independent from donors and sponsors than artists. Coming to art scene again, I remember a situation which happened several weeks ago. In Astana, (today’s Nur-Sultan — ed.), there was a group exhibition about Soviet repressions and an artist came in a T-shirt You can’t run away from the truth. He was sent away with the explanation that a gallery is not a place for political statements.

Ruth Jenrbekova

The main ideology there is a version of nationalism, the entire idea of sovereignty is built around nationalism in one of its forms. This manipulates the behaviour of artists in a sense that whoever feels oneself relating to this idea gets an opportunity to rail everything Soviet. And who does not fit the framework of the national culture, feels like hanging in the air. It turns out, there is nothing to say for us: as queers and mestizas we do not really exist. Identity becomes equal to history and artists with prescribed ethnicities find their histories always already “national”, but others do not.

Victoria Kravtsova

When and how did you begin to self-identify as feminists?

Ruth Jenrbekova

I came through the reflection on who I am, what kind of relation to Modernity I have as a person from Kazakhstan, a country that was and remains (in some sense) colonized — both inside and outside. Also, the patriarchal way of living and thinking is very strong here, it is impossible to ignore. Out of these questions and problems we began to do our first exhibitions. We also knew that feminist ideas were absent from the discussions. So we decided to do a collective pro-feminist exhibition titled Second Sex.

Maria Vilkovisky

We had one condition for participation: artists were supposed to read Simone de Beauvoir’s book in order to participate in the project. Unexpected for us, we faced certain rejection from the artistic community: many would say “Why do we need this? We don’t have any problems connected to gender issues”. Then we did a round table with the women who have been working against domestic violence since the 1990s and had a more specific understanding of actual feminist issues in our country.

Ruth Jenrbekova

Before the exhibition, we met regularly with participants to look at different examples of feminist art and discuss them. Back then, for artists in Kazakhstan, it was a new way of thinking.

Maria Vilkovisky

At that moment there were no active feminist groups in town, but there was the mentioned above “first generation” of Kazakhstan feminists that worked in NGOs since the beginning of 1990-s and we invited them for a round table in the framework of our exhibition. We felt that there is no connection between different generations of feminists. When Svetlana Shakirova came and saw the artworks, she reacted with “Oh, well, so now the waiting is over - after more than ten years artists start reflecting on feminism”.

Victoria Kravtsova

How to localize feminism in the post-Soviet context?

Ruth Jenrbekova

Through writing our own stuff no matter — whether it is academic or not. Through producing books, films, artworks.

Maria Vilkovisky

“Writing our own stuff” also implies developing our own ways of seeing and writing. I think creating our own language is a political problem and a very long process. So far I cannot imagine a local institution on the basis of which such things could happen.

 

 

krëlex zentre is an outline of an art-centre that does not represent a local community, speaking instead on behalf of ‘nobody’: the unclassified multitude of earthlings, the ‘critters’, the translocal queer imaginaries, which have not yet emerged and whose existence is always in question. It can be seen as an artwork in the genre of ‘constructive’ institutional critique – a phantom platform created in response to the situation of local institutional deficiency. It is also an undercover signboard for the various activities of two artists from Kazakhstan: Maria Vilkovisky and Ruthie Jenrbekova.

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