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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

Alex Ulko

Antonina Stebur

People

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.

Lene Vollhardt

Lene Vollhardt-Wongrowska is an artist, filmmaker, triple Gemini, and speculative pragmatist based in Berlin and London. Through various media, her work undermines the classical juxtaposition between conceptuality and corporeality. Fascinated by the cultural signification of the female body as a processing site for transfer of value and valuation, she conceives shapeshifting, liquid counter-processes in alliance with people across various backgrounds – philosophers, human rights activists, intuits, sex workers, economists, and so on.
Vollhardt's interest in the implied aesthetic of political negotiation and its proprietary tactics of performative gaslighting is reflected in her works. She explores this in transposition with the embodiment of herself as an environment and remote viewing the weather. She has exhibited and screened at many institutions: LOOP Barcelona, Vitra Museum Basel with BlessBerlin, Athens Digital Arts Festival, European Days of Culture Karlsruhe, and Toronto Arthouse Film Festival. She has received the scholarship from the German National Foundation and the Art Foundation Baden-Wuerttemberg, and her works have received the Nikolaj Kunsthal Fokus Award (DK) and Hong Kong Arthouse Award (HK).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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This document was last updated on March 10, 2019

You are looking for: CentralAsia  

21st March 2019

Faig Ahmed

interview

Interview geführt von Ira Konyukhova und Pavel Metelitsyn

26th February 2019

East Wind - Art in the Former Soviet Republics

article

Thibaut de Ruyter
"Turandokht" at 58th Venice Biennale
Photo by Pavel Metelitsyn
Artist Farhad Farzaliyev
Photo by Pavel Metelitsyn
Ta(r)dino-6 Team (Asli Samadova, Olga Selezneva and Farhad Farzaliyev) with visitors of the installation
Photo by Pavel Metelitsyn
Turandokht: 58th Venice Biennale
Video by Pavel Metelitsyn

When there are no opputurnities, create your own Giardini

Asli Samadova

12th July 2019

The first years of its independence Azerbaijan, a new country on a post-Soviet political map with a very difficult name to pronounce yet to remember, was known as a conflict zone with vast oil resources. Apart from political journalists and oil sector businessmen, Azerbaijan would rarely interest anyone else. 2012 Eurovision, the first among many major international sport and cultural events, promoted the country as a unique blend of Oriental and Western civilizations.

 

Many if not all contemporary artists from Azerbaijan have referred to a carpet or other craftsmanship traditions, yet very few could articulate the reason why they chose carpets as subject-matter or medium. Reflecting this fashionable local trend, Western curators invited to represent National Pavilion at Venice Biennial would make group shows reshuffling two dozen contemporary Azerbaijani artists and having at least one ‘carpet’ artwork - woven, photographed, drawn, used as decoration pattern, digitized. Mainstream contemporary art from Azerbaijan deviates more towards decoration which is easier to attribute and connect with the country’s identity and heritage whereas most of the conceptual artworks remain local without making one step further to become glocal - a business term that Encyclopedia Britannica explains as “simultaneous occurrence of both universalizing and particularizing tendencies in contemporary social, political, and economic systems”. This situation, however, is not exclusive to Azerbaijan: one observes similar trends in the neighbouring countries and across the Caspian Sea. Unsurprisingly these are post-Soviet republics that thirty years after the collapse of the Union are forming their intellectual basis and shaping national identity.

WHEN THERE ARE NO POSSIBILITIES, ONE SHOULD CREATE THEM 

Short-lived Wings of Time art association founded by the late Leyla Akhundzadeh has inspired Aida Makhmudova to build Yarat Contemporary Art Space – a Baku-based institution that consistently supports and help the sustainable development of the local art community. Yet, as a non-profit organization, Yarat cannot alone fulfil the mission of broadening the perception of what is art working in parallel with the general audience and professional art community through exhibitions and events programming and commissioning artworks to international and local artists to expand its collection. Interest in collecting contemporary art still has to pick up as without it Azerbaijani artists struggle to create contemporary forms of expressions.

 

When there are no opportunities, one should create them: an ‘alternative Azerbaijan Biennial pavilion’ to showcase the migrating sound installation Turandokht. Radio Riddles in the oldest and largest Venetian private garden was organized within less than a month by a small group of enthusiasts. Coincidentally, a private garden was within walking distance from the Accademia Bridge and Campo San Stefano, where the traditionally Azerbaijan National Pavilion was situated. As a result, an opening of the National Pavilion on May 9 was chosen for showcasing Turandokht. Radio Riddles. This five-channel radio installation resulted from a collaboration between Farhad Farzaliyev, Leyli Salayeva, Asli Samadova and Jahangir Selimkhanov. It found a home for one day.

 

Fascinated by the centuries-long journey of a narrative fragment from the epic The Seven Beauties (1197) by Azerbaijanian poet Nizami Ganjavi (1141-1209), the team studied the original plot. It is about a wise and self-sufficient Slavonic beauty who declares she will marry only her equal, and thus tests her suitors with riddles. Only the brave and wise successfully pass all challenges to conquer the special heart. A quest for personal identity and asking a question of what it means to be an Azerbaijani woman living for most of her adult life abroad. Surprisingly, some answers were found in medieval literature.  Nizami Ganjavi is as important for Azerbaijanis as Dante for Italians, Goethe for Germans or Pushkin for Russians. He wrote predominantly in the Persian language, but presumably never left Ganja, the second largest city of present-day Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, his influence is spread across a wide territory – Caucasus, Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa. Unlike Rumi or Omar Khayyam, he still needs to be discovered in the West. His influence in Western culture is not known outside narrow academic circle: the plot and its slight adaptations are found in the writings of the Frenchman François Pétis de la Croix (1653-1713), the Italian Carlo Gozzi (1720-1806), and the German authors Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805), Karl Gustav Vollmöller (1878-1948) and Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956). A nameless princess from Nasrin Nush’s story became the famous literary figure Turandot, a princess from China. The plot further migrated into music: the German composer Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826), the Italians Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) and Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), and the Briton Havergal Brian (1876-1972) are among those who composed operas on this subject. 

 

The amount of work and number of collaborators - over 40 actors, musicians, composers - involved in the creative process makes Turandokht. Radio Riddles one of the most complex artworks ever made in Azerbaijan. The artwork touches many hot buttons of modern society in a series of interviews and poetry recitals: culture and self-identity, solitude, empowerment, relationships and balance with oneself and outer world, setting priorities. These topics make Turandokht. Radio Riddles a multilayer piece that requires time and concentration. It re-explores popular sound material, mixes and distorts it along with the text. So, Nessun Dorma, which is sung in by a tenor in Puccini’s opera Turandot, is voiced in the sound installation’s multiverse by a countertenor, a chorus of female voices and even a Vocaloid (computer programme). Another famous piece, Le Cygne by Camille Saint-Saëns, illustrates the reverse journey of a classical European music piece into Eastern classical music traditions. The composition is recorded in Azerbaijan mugham modes on the Medieval musical instruments mentioned in Nizami’s poetry. The modality of a riddle is continued in poetic texts translated into different languages. 

 

Almost like an initial message in the game of Chinese whispers, Nizami Ganjavi’s plot has passed through countless transformations over the centuries. The creators of Turandokht. Radio Riddles have taken the process further, to imagine what kind of person Nizami’s protagonist, a smart and astute princess, would become in modern times; what would her thoughts and essence be? As a result, they have created a composite portrait of someone simultaneously strong and vulnerable. The sound installation thus immerses the listener into a carefully constructed fantasy world of a present-day Turandot, a protagonist of Giacomo Puccini’s eponymous opera and one of the most recognizable works based on Nizami’s plot. Centuries long transformations of the story are traced in the sound installation which is an allegory of the shifts in gender attitudes and cross-fertilizing cultural mutations that have taken place throughout human history. For example, tenor arias are sung by sopranos, European 19th-century classical music is performed on medieval Azerbaijani instruments, due to English grammar construction some texts are gender-neutral. The sound material is mixed and distorted along with text, creating a variety of possibilities to experience and interpret the artwork.

 

The Venetian garden opened up new possibilities and pushed the creative boundaries for artist Farhad Farzaliyev who engages in anthropological research on the Azerbaijan cultural context and the cataloguing of striking forms of neo-folklore. Farhad mixes puns, social content and self-irony in his works by using paintings, objects, video and sound. His artistic practice is deeply intellectual reflected in multiple layers of experiencing his artworks. With the nonlinear narration and overlapping sound, Turandokht. Radio Riddles offered a unique experience to each visitor: interaction is personal and unique since one’s body placement, even its slight tilt or move would affect what a person would hear in a given moment. The further one walks and the longer one listens to the radio emissions, the deeper and more confessional they become. Turandokht. Radio Riddles is a poetic multiverse of possibilities in the quest for love striving to rebirth its essence. It is a refuge from reality, a spiritual delve into a polyphony of sound in an attempt to reach catharsis.

 

 

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.

"Turandokht" at 58th Venice Biennale
Photo by Pavel Metelitsyn

Artist Farhad Farzaliyev
Photo by Pavel Metelitsyn

Ta(r)dino-6 Team (Asli Samadova, Olga Selezneva and Farhad Farzaliyev) with visitors of the installation
Photo by Pavel Metelitsyn

Turandokht: 58th Venice Biennale
Video by Pavel Metelitsyn

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