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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.

How to contact us

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

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

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

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

Thibaut de Ruyter

Thibaut de Ruyter is a French curator and critic who lives and works in Berlin since 2001. 

Read his articles: EAST WIND - ART IN THE FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS, UNFORTUNATELY, WE CANNOT PAY FOR YOUR FLIGHT AND ACCOMMODATION, ARTIST PORTRAIT: ALISA BERGER

Asli Samadova

Asli Samadova is a Milan/Baku-based curator and museum specialist experienced working with leading cultural institutions in Europe and the USA on cultural diplomacy, education and exhibition projects. She is the founder of Ta(r)dino 6 alternative art space that promotes contemporary art from Azerbaijan and beyond and is a platform for experiments. Ta(r)dino 6 Venice project brought Turandokht. Radio Riddles to Venice and was the first to present contemporary art from Azerbaijan in a non-institutional environment during the 58th Venice Biennial 2019.

Read her articles: WHEN THERE ARE NO OPPUTURNITIES, CREATE YOUR OWN GIARDINI, INTERIORS, 2019 CURATOR'S CHOICE

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 eine Kuratorin und Forscherin. Studium der Bild- und Kulturwissenschaften an der European Humanities University (Vilnius, Litauen) und an der School of Engaged Art der Kunstgruppe “Chto Delat?” (Sankt Petersburg, Russland). Sie ist Mitglied der Künstlergruppe #damaudobnayavbytu (“Frau, die bequem im Alltag ist”), die die feministische Agenda im russischen und weisrussischen Kontext untersucht. Sie war Kuratorin einer Reihe von Ausstellungen in Belarus, Russland, Polen, Frankreich und China. Ihre Forschungsgebiete und kuratorischen Interessen sind: Gemeinschaft, Um-Zusammenstellung alltäglicher Praktiken, feministische Kritik, neue Sensibilität, Basisinitiativen.

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

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

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

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. 

Tamara Khasanova

Tamara Khasanova is an emerging art professional, aspiring young curator and intern at TransitoryWhite since March till August 2020. 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-Social states. In her professional and academic practice, she is concerned with a lack of representation of Eastern European and Central Asian regions on a large scale and committed to developing a sustainable dialogue between parts of the world so dear to her heart. Currently, she is doing a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Studio Art in San Francisco, CA. She starts her M.A program in Curatorial Practice at the School of Visual Arts, New York this Fall.

Ira Konyukhova

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

Pavel Metelitsyn

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

Daria Prydybailo

Daria Prydybailo is a curator, researcher, founder of the TRSHCHN platform and co-founder of the NGO Art Matters Ukraine. Her background includes +7 years in leading cultural institutions of Ukraine such as National museum complex Art Arsenal and CCA PinchukArtCentre, as well as independent curatorial practice with a strong focus on the body in contemporary art, sensual turn, sound art, and in-situ projects. She worked on large-scale international projects such as International forum Art Kyiv, the First Kyiv Biennale of contemporary art ARSENALE 2012, and Ukrainian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale. During 2013-2015 she curated online-platform & collective of artists, curators and writers  (wo)manorial, who contemplate the ever-changing concept of femininity. Her latest research is focused on love and intimacy in the context of emotional capitalism. Originally from Kyiv currently she lives and works in Berlin. 

Sascia Reibel

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

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.

6th April 2020

Leah Peirce

article

en

29th March 2020

Трансграничная миграция заботы

article

пандемия после 8 марта
Мария Дмитриева
ru

25th March 2020

Transboundary migration of care

article

pandemia after 8th of March
Mariya Dmitrieva
en

9th March 2020

(It would be) NICE TO MEET YOU, TOO

article

Anna Kamay and Melikset Panosian
en

5th March 2020

Open Letter by PinchukArtCentre Trade Union members

article

en

26th February 2020

The shift of the paradigm in modern Central Asian art

article

Alexey Ulko
en

4th February 2020

Embrace Your Antithesis

interview

Interview with Slavs and Tatars
en

1st February 2020

Chakras of Tbilisi

article

Laura Arena
en

29th January 2020

2019 Curator's choice

article

en

17th January 2020

On the loop

interview

Interview with Gago Gagoshidze
en

23rd December 2019

"Мы сёння знаходзімся ў іншай вытворчай драме"

interview

Работай Больше! Отдыхай Больше!
by

5th December 2019

Another production drama

interview

Interview with WORK HARD! PLAY HARD! working group
en

20th November 2019

Wandering poetics of Central Asian mestizas

interview

Interview with Krëlex Zentre
en

6th November 2019

Conversation with Julieta Aranda and Anna Kamay

interview

en

1st November 2019

Über die Sprache der Vorherrschaft

interview

ein Gespräch mit Medina Bazargali
de

29th October 2019

Where the roses grow

interview

Interview with Almagul Menlibaeva
en

25th October 2019

On language of supremacy: Medina Bazargali in conversation

interview

en

16th October 2019

Interiors

portrait

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

12th July 2019

When there are no opputurnities, create your own Giardini

article

Asli Samadova
en

1st July 2019

Juggling Dinosaurs

article

The precariousness of motherhood in arts
Anna Kamay
en

24th June 2019

Interview with Elene Abashidze

interview

en

14th June 2019

Unfortunately, we cannot pay for your flight and accommodation

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
en

28th May 2019

Ich liebe dich!

article

Antonina Stebur
de

17th May 2019

Interview with Anna Vahrami

interview

en

23rd April 2019

Artist Portrait: Anastasia Akhvlediani

portrait

en

13th April 2019

Artist Portrait: Alisa Berger

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
en

21st March 2019

Faig Ahmed

interview

de

18th March 2019

There Is Sex After Soviet Union!

article

Irina Konyukhova
en

11th March 2019

Interview mit Samvel Saghatelian

interview

de

8th March 2019

Artist Portrait: Salome Dumbadze

portrait

en

4th March 2019

Interview mit Chinara Majidova

interview

Klang des Brunners vor einer Fassade
de

26th February 2019

East Wind - Art in the Former Soviet Republics

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
en
SteppenBaroque, single channel video, 11 min, 2013
Film still
Tokamak, 9 channel video installation, 2017
Foto der Künstlerin
Altar of the east, Inkjetdruck Archivpapier 100x150, 2018
Foto der Künstlerin
Tokamak, inkjet archival paper, 150x100, 2016
Foto der Künstlerin
The Constructor, video still of the installation, 2016
Foto der Künstlerin

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?

SteppenBaroque, single channel video, 11 min, 2013
Film still

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.

Tokamak, 9 channel video installation, 2017
Foto der Künstlerin

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?

Altar of the east, Inkjetdruck Archivpapier 100x150, 2018
Foto der Künstlerin

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.

Tokamak, inkjet archival paper, 150x100, 2016
Foto der Künstlerin

The Constructor, video still of the installation, 2016
Foto der Künstlerin

 

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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