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

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Mission

 

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

Contributors

Victoria Kravtsova

Ira Konyukhova

Thibaut de Ruyter

Asli Samadova

Antonina Stebur

Alex Ulko

Katharina Wiedlack

People

Ina Hildebrandt

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

Irina Konyukhova

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

Pavel Metelitsyn

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

Sascia Reibel

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

Kundry Reif

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

Willi Reinecke

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

Thibaut de Ruyter

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

Alexandra Vetter

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

Lioudmila Voropai

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

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This document was last updated on March 10, 2019

6th November 2019

Conversation with Julieta Aranda and Anna Kamay

interview

29th October 2019

Where the roses grow

interview

Interview with Almagul Menlibaeva

25th October 2019

On language of supremacy: Medina Bazargali in conversation

interview

16th October 2019

Interiors

portrait

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

10th October 2019

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

interview

part two

26th September 2019

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

interview

part one

6th September 2019

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

interview

12th July 2019

When there are no opputurnities, create your own Giardini

article

Asli Samadova

1st July 2019

Juggling Dinosaurs

article

The precariousness of motherhood in arts
Anna Kamay

24th June 2019

Interview with Elene Abashidze

interview

14th June 2019

Unfortunately, we cannot pay for your flight and accommodation

article

Thibaut de Ruyter

28th May 2019

Ich liebe dich!

article

Antonina Stebur

17th May 2019

Interview with Anna Vahrami

interview

23rd April 2019

Artist Portrait: Anastasia Akhvlediani

portrait

13th April 2019

Artist Portrait: Alisa Berger

article

Thibaut de Ruyter

21st March 2019

Faig Ahmed

interview

Interview geführt von Ira Konyukhova und Pavel Metelitsyn

18th March 2019

There Is Sex After Soviet Union!

article

Irina Konyukhova

11th March 2019

Interview mit Samvel Saghatelian

interview

Geführt von Ira Konyukhova

8th March 2019

Artist Portrait: Salome Dumbadze

portrait

4th March 2019

Interview mit Chinara Majidova

interview

Geführt von Ira Konyukhova

26th February 2019

East Wind - Art in the Former Soviet Republics

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
SteppenBaroque, single channel video, 11 min, 2013
Film still
Tokamak, 9 channel video installation, 2017
Photo by the artist
Altar of the east, Inkjet print archival paper 100x150, 2018
Photo by the artist
Tokamak, inkjet archival paper, 150x100, 2016
Photo by the artist
The Constructor, video still of the installation, 2016
Photo by the artist

Where the roses grow

Interview with Almagul Menlibaeva

by Viktoria Kravtsova

29th October 2019

The Kazakh artist Almagul Menlibaeva is known for her photo- and video-works where model-like, fit and conventionally beautiful female protagonists are placed into different settings of (quasi-)traditional Kazakhstan. The steppe, a wall of a mosque or ruins of the Soviet industrial buildings combined with female nakedness and such objects as goat’s horns, dead foxes or police uniforms are tellings the reader the stories of totalitarianism, post-Soviet (de)colonization and feminism. Victoria Kravtsova talked with Almagul about her art, feminism and the Kazakh art world.

Victoria Kravtsova

Almagul, please tell me about your background - where did you grow up, where did you study?

Almagul Menlibaeva

I was born in Alma-Ata and studied at the Kazakh National Academy of Arts. I was always interested in the nomadic culture, it was always a great puzzle to me – I was interested in understanding what is image and why it needs to be controlled. And only recently, when I began to do performances and make videos, I understood that there are so many men in this sphere and men have a different eye for things, they are taught to see differently. Men are taught to see women as objects, it was clear to me when I began my career. There were a couple of cases when my work was stolen from me. Then I simply began to do everything myself, filming included.

Victoria Kravtsova

Would you consider this as a emancipatory act and do you consider yourself as a feminist? 

Almagul Menlibaeva

Sure, I call myself a feminist, I use that word now. However, I did not come to this term immediately. I was a feminist long before I started using the word. I was born in a rather traditional patriarchal family, there are many of them in Kazakhstan. In fact, I would argue, that the whole USSR is patriarchal. And we should really invest time into researching it - what we did, under which premises we lived back then. I had personal problems at home, in the family, at school, at university and also when I decided to become an artist. It was always clear to me that these problems were related to the fact that I was a woman. I always have to work twice as much as men to get something.

Sure, I do call myself a feminist, I use this word. The terms themselves though, they always come later – I have for quite a long time never used the word, but actually was a feminist. 

I had personal problems at home, in the family, at school, at the university and when I was choosing to become an artist. It was always clear to me that these problems are related to the fact that I am a woman. I always have to work two times more than men to get something.

Viktoria Kravtsova

How would you define YOUR feminism?

Almagul Menlibaeva

I read a lot, I do, but I won’t tell you concrete names, concrete theorists. Feminism has a lot of clichés, no one can do everything perfectly, so we really need a lot, agiant load of opinions and descriptions for feminism to develop into something that anyone can be happy with the term. MY feminism should correspond exactly to my ideas. As I already said I won’t give you names of theorists, but I can think of some female artists from different places – how they colonize or liberate the image. I love Marina Abramović, I love non-white feminists from Africa, from Cuba. We can’t let feminist be that “clean” elitist version of it, it must be different and have something for everyone. We need to broaden the agenda so that as much men and women as possible could get it, we need to get the reflection of this word to be everywhere.

Victoria Kravtsova

Is there a specific feminism for Central Asia? 

Almagul Menlibaeva

It seems weird to me talking about Central Asia as a whole – it is a very diverse group of countries and nations. All in all, I am against separating a particular geographical area, highlighting the specificity of a region, a country or a group of countries, because it leads to generalizations. I am rather for individual strategies in each concrete case: whom am I talking to, will I be understood right now?

Viktoria Kravtsova

Since your artworks refer to the themes of coloniality and gender, you must be aware of a thin line between empowerment and objectification and exoticization. Where is this line? Are you aware of any objections to your own work? 

Almagul Menlibaeva

I can imagine, that for some it's exoticization, for me it never was. For me it was a search for my own identity. For many years I didn't know who I was - I grew up in a Russian-speaking family, I knew Russian culture, but nothing about my own. And one day, I began to look for it. There was this one moment - when I was about 4 years old, I got a doll as a present and my grandmother burned it. Why did she do it? She thought the doll was inappropriate. Why was it so important to preserve the image?

During my studies of ornaments and decorative crafts I understood how ideas travel and transform within different cultures - and now I continue to explore how identity is reflected in visual images. For example, this pattern that we know today as Turkish or Oriental cucumber - it actually comes from the North, from the drawings of Siberian tribes. From there it went through the East to the royal courts. Each empire takes something from the colonized to reconstruct itself - we can see how knowledge migrates, but usually people don't notice it. And much of what is taken up by colonization belongs mostly to women, because women are the ones who deal with crafts. And the areas in which women are most active are also the areas in which coloniality is sometimes less present, that is why a new perspective on history can be found here. There might be populism in these discourses, but the time will put everything back into place. In the post-Soviet areas, everything "national" is treated with a lot of attention because it has been a taboo subject for so long. In the USSR “national” was only a reconstruction created by the state – like before you had 30-40 national costumes, and the Soviets made them into one which was now supposed to symbolize “authenticity”. We all work with stereotypes, because stereotypes are what is left to us.

Viktoria Kravtsova

There is an interesting phenomena about many post-soviet countries, including Russia and Kazakhstan. While the official USSR state policy was atheistic with land confiscated from the churches and persecutions on religious leaders, the situation changed dramatically after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Is this connected to the search for identity, for belonging to some other kind of community, ethnic or territorial?

Almagul Menlibaeva

Why did the post-Soviet space become religious? Because there was a lacuna in place of totalitarianism that they tried to get rid of. No one tried to reinvent and rethink the totalitarian consciousness we had. Then, in 1990s, it was a hard time – no surprise that people found resort in religion. And the past was still alive, the materialist past, so in the end some kind of materialist religiosity was what we ended up with – and once again, women suffered the most – religion oppresses women first. And it is not that men are guilty of that – we all are guilty, women as well – in the end, women raise us to be who we are. Women are in a very controversial position, they are both oppressors and oppressed. I try to depict this duality in my work. To reflect what I have observed. I believe that culture is a way to communicate across human suffering, and this communication is a function of art. Art must go into politics,
into journalism, it cannot stay in museums. My art is also what I communicate my ideas with, and I believe that the language I use is appropriate for what I want to express.

Viktoria Kravtsova

The title “Bread and Roses”, the exhibition you curated last year, originates from the poem by James Oppenheim written in 1911, which has foreseen successful strikes of the female workers in the textile fabrics a year later in USA. Thus, the title is inherently political, suggesting the subjects of feminist struggle and working class issues. Which are impossible to analyse without taking into account the colonial politics of the USSR and deprivation of the ethnic and national identity.

Almagul Menlibaeva

 

The exhibitions was about the USSR as a feudal unit, about slave labor, colonialism and how Soviet modernity made people nationless. I also showed gender issues in it. I interviewed the women who were raped in the camps in Karlag  to analyze how it was normalized and to show that a Soviet woman never was free. We tried to explore how the Soviet woman could express herself or not within the system and how repression was connected to gender and sexuality. I have worked with the state - I believe it is our right to demand of the state. You also need the state to reach out to others. We had to make the exhibition only implicitly feminist, not explicitly, though the idea is feminist. There are conditions which make it for some completely impossible to say “I am a feminist”. I spoke with a Yekaterina Kuznetsova who helps people find their roots. She told me an interesting story about Karlag and how Stalin used it as a place to send the wives of his bureaucrats there. By doing so, he created this peculiar man-to-man power dynamics to see who do the men choose: their wives or their leader. Taking a gender perspective is sometimes very useful, it reveals many important narratives.

 

 

Almagul Menlibayeva (b. 1969 in Almaty, Kazakh ssr) is a video artist and photographer, and is the co-curator of Focus Kazakhstan Berlin (2018). Almagul Menlibayeva holds an mFa from the Art and Theatre University of Almaty. she works primarily in multi-channel video, photography and mixed media installation and her work addresses such critical issues of post-soviet modernity as social, economic, and political transformations in Central Asia, de-colonial re-imaginings of gender, environmental degradation, and eurasian nomadic and indigenous cosmologies and mythologies. In conjunction with her solo exhibition ‘Transformation’ at the Grand Palais in Paris (France, 2016 – 2017), she was awarded the prestigious ‘Chevalier Ordre des Arts et des Lettres' by the French minister of culture in 2017. Other awards include the ‘daryn’ state Prize of Kazakhstan (1996), and the ‘tarlan’ national award of the club of Maecenas of Kazakhstan (2003). She was also the winner of the Grand Prix ‘asia art' at the II Biennial of Central Asia, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (1995) and the winner of the main Prize of the International Film Festival ‘Kino der Kunst' (2013) in Munich, Germany.

 

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.

 

Editing: Kundry Reif & Ira Konyukhova 

 

English correction: Alexandra Vetter

 

 

 

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