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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

You are looking for: Yarat Center  

4th March 2019

Interview mit Chinara Majidova

interview

Geführt von Ira Konyukhova
Welcome To The Dollhouse!. Сatechism for the Mass on dresser (on physical medium!). 2018
Photo by WH!PH!
Alisa Oleva. Lozhechka / one-to-one action. 2019
Photo by WH!PH!
Frida Sandström. Inburst. Discussion and movement session. 2018
Photo by WH!PH!
Cara Tolmie. “Gender of Sound” Listening Session. 2018
Photo by WH!PH!

Another production drama

Interview with WORK HARD! PLAY HARD!

Antonina Stebur

5th December 2019

The turn to the dematerialization of art, the transition from creating objects to creating relationships, conditions for complicity and interaction in the field of art, was typical for the 1960s, for example, as part of the situationist movement or the Fluxus movement. This turn was associated, on the one hand, with criticism of the white cube and the recognition of art institutions as fitting into the existing economic context, and, on the other hand, as a requirement of individualization and self-expression. In a concentrated form, this requirement is expressed in the famous Joseph Beuys statement: "Everyone is an artist."


Today in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, we can also observe a new round of dematerialization of art, the focus shifts from objects on relations. However, unlike the 1960s, contemporary artists do not oppose "white cube" and the institutional framework. They settle in existing social forms, reconfigure familiar social actions and activities, work "on ruins and in gaps".

 

The same strategy - work and reconfiguration of everyday practices, established forms of work and rest - is typical for the “Work Hard! Play Hard! ”(RB!OB! or WH!PH!). RB!OB! is a week of events, which takes place annually in Minsk and gathers artists, cultural workers, activists, intellectuals, urbanists, etc. from different countries. The core of RB!OB!, designed around the problems of work and leisure, the production of knowledge and the reassembly of collectivity. A week of coexistence is divided into two activities - a series of events and joint activities in Minsk, and concentrated living - three or four days of working together and relaxing in a sanatorium

 

RB!OB! is based on participatory, performative and discursive practices that allow you not to focus on finished product or result, but to enjoy on living together while creating a process. The organizers and participants dissect, change, collide with each other usual forms of work and leisure, such as excursions, rave parties, hackathons, etc. For example, the subversive collective meditation “Inhale and everything that has already melted in the air”, composed of quotes from Karl Marx, Sarah Ahmed, Slavoj Žižek. Or the practice of "Reading at night on-demand" from Nikita Kadan, in which he is coming to someone's home to make a night read. As the artist himself writes: “Reading at night is usually a ritual carried out between loved ones. When an unfamiliar person reads you at night, it can be, at least, uncomfortable. In this case, only trust in the intentions of this person and that same reflective distance that allows us to consider this reading as a ritual can save.”

RB!OB! can be described as a self-organizing platform, and as a chain of events, and as a laboratory. The working group consists of Aleksey Borisenok, Dina Zhuk, Nikolay Spesivtsev and Olya Sosnovskaya.

Antonina Stebur

You often emphasise the difference between “Work Hard! Play Hard!” (WH!PH!) and festival types of organisation, you refuse to call the week a festival. What is the best way to describe the WH!PH! format? 

 Dzina Zhuk

 I think that a festival is a story for an external viewer who comes to see a ready-made program, while we focus on creating an event together. We wanted to have everyone hang out together, get acquainted with each other, to enjoy collective moments of intense time experience and moments of relaxation. 

Antonina Stebur

Why does WH!PH! emphasise performative and participatory practices?

 Olia Sosnovskaya

I would like to add that we also place the focus on lectures and discussions. Other formats, for example, an exhibition, imply passive contemplation. Our participation formats are premised on getting together and working with a different economy of engagement and attention. Moreover, our events are pretty mobile: we are constantly moving in and out of the city. We like not to be bound to any particular space – we can just flicker here and there.

 Nicolay Spesivtsev

I would like to add that we are working with forms that induce collective experience, this is where we put the focus of our week. Collective practices help to organise areas of tension or relaxation, reducing the intensity of co-presence next to each other. There can be situations of conglutination and clumping or, on the contrary, of an accelerated distancing from each other. Inducing and provoking this kind of experience lies within the area of our interests as the working group.

 Aleksei Borisionok

Processes born as a result of the collective dynamics, as well as the narratives that are born within lectures, discussions, seminars, actions are important for WH!PH!. Likewise, it is crucial for us to shift the focus hanging as a dominant idea over Minsk that any exhibition or event is aimed at representation of the final result. I believe, an important part of WH!PH! is the possibility to experiment and think about how you can work or abstain from work, use different strategies, etc.

Antonina Stebur

Why did the amount of time you live together as WH!PH! at a sanatorium become fundamental for you from 2018?

 Olia Sosnovskaya

For us, a format where we produce nothing, show nothing, just live together was vital, because WH!PH! was born out of a desire to do something together and to live together. 

 Dzina Zhuk

Last year, we had a day of rest that we used to learn to relax together again. It is important for me to construct collectivity in such a way. By putting everyone in a single environment that provides historical context, we induce and create new forms of cohabitation and a new routine. We think about new forms of collectivity, about a new form of kinship in Donna Haraway's terms, where our connections would be constructed according to the ideas and thoughts we have, that is essentially like-mindedness.

In Minsk, this experience is distributed, because of such phenomena as “Vpiska”, a contemporary variant of crash pads parties and gatherings.

 Nicolay Spesivtsev

Vpiska’s are an integral part of “Work Hard! Play Hard!” Fundamentally,  the experience of Vpiska is shared by all participants from different cities than Minsk, because they have to spend the nights at places belonging to other people. And in this way, they become dependant on the daily routine of their hosts. Days of such a distributed daily life in Minsk may transform into the situation of a focused, intensified being together in a sanatorium. At the same time, this concentrated experience is supported by the routine of the sanatorium, it gives us no chance to be carried away by the routinization of collective life. This allows us to engage with boredom, use it as a starting point, or, subduing the boredom, come up with new collective living.

 Aleksei Borisionok

The sanatorium has been associated with the automation of daily routine and reproductive work in the Soviet Union from the 1920-30s. Today, the sanatorium is also a ruin which faces severe pressure of capitalist transformation. Sanatoriums are cheap places with some infrastructure, so you don't drown in the organisation of collective life. In this sense, a sanatorium has a significant emancipating force, it is important for WH!PH!.

Antonina Stebur

Why, is a reinterpretation of collectivity and creating new forms of coexistence important for you? It is obvious that except a party, there is a political or socio-critical aspect, an emancipatory layer.

 Aleksei Borisionok

An important point for us was the law on parasitism It became the theme which made us think: what does the word “work”, “non-work” or  “work status” mean? What is an unalienated experience of time and work? Work and leisure are the core and heart of the modern capitalist system of exploitation which imposes certain ways of living time, a certain production of relations.

 Olia Sosnovskaya

It's also a reaction to how collectivity is treated in many post-socialist countries. People are scared of it, it is believed to be the legacy of the Soviet, like collectivisation. For us, it is important to regain the desire, pleasure, and the political message of staying together, working together, and forms of self-organisation. This is a response to liberal disunity which prevailed in the 90s.

 Dzina Zhuk

It seems to me that the left movement reached a mental block at some point. Our attempts to engage philosophers who speculate on the issues of new left movements, on the expansion of the collective imagination, are also a kind of endeavour to construct potential collectivity. 

 Aleksei Borisionok

To sum up, the politically important thing is the discussion on labour per se, and of course the criticism of labour, reproductive labour, various forms of precarity, the transformation of immaterial labour. WH!PH! is the imagination of the future, which would not be so closely associated with labour, the idea of unalienated labour, of the feminist critique of labour, etc.

 Dzina Zhuk

These practices and discussions are also related to language. We have a collective glossary containing concepts such as affective labour, outsourcing, yesterday's unalienated celebration, extractive capitalism, left melancholy, spontaneous grassroots alternative, etc. Some of these concepts are absurd, others invoke transforming significant terms into a new language. The glossary is created collectively, these terms were coined by all participants. What is important is the process of reinventing the language, the way we can speak about it in the circumstances we find ourselves. 

Antonina Stebur

How is the glossary made out?

 Aleksei Borisionok

In part, it is based on the elaborations of the working group, which seems to generate some tensions chain. Every year, when the event is over, we invite participants to add terms that would become part of the glossary.

 Olia Sosnovskaya

These terms are usually associated with the practice which the participants offered or performed. But it can be something that comes up spontaneously. It's also an archiving method, a way of comprehending experience that has been lived, a kind of critical documentation, a follow-up of discussion and experience within WH!PH!. These terms are associated with past events, – it's a sort of reticule one can use to look at WH!PH!

Antonina Stebur

How is this imperative “Work Hard! Play Hard!” interpreted in relation to the post-Soviet context?

 Aleksei Borisionok

The post-Soviet context plays a specific role in the global economic transformation of capitalism, and at least now Eastern Europe increasingly looks like what is often referred to as nearshore, that is a huge reservoir of labour-power which is not so strongly associated with physical labour as with immaterial labour (as opposed to material production facilities that have been moved to Asia, to the East). This includes different things: from the notorious programming to care work. No wonder that care work in so-called Western Europe is primarily done by migrant women. In this sense, on the one hand, the post-Soviet region is represented as a reservoir of the labour army. But on the other hand, there are also tension lines within the region like Russian-Ukrainian conflict or growing imperial ambitions of Russia.

 Nicolay Spesivtsev

There are the ruins of the institutional support of labour and various forms of recreation that existed in the Soviet Union, and that have been dismantled to varying degrees today.

Antonina Stebur

How do you think art production or the negation of production in art can influence this neoliberal imperative “Work hard, play hard” and as a result of more consumption?

 Olia Sosnovskaya

Probably, I would not like to isolate the field of art in such a way. I find productive a situation when artists unite with someone else or include other methods, spaces – within WH!PH! we do not exceptionally do art. In this inclusion or cooperation, emancipatory opportunities emerge because art often deals with imagination, but also with some play format that can include playing something out, rehearsing, and practice. It is a play similar to a child's play which includes such elements as joy, spontaneity. Perhaps, it is also an attempt of rejection of any highly frozen forms, a constant search for something. 

 Dzina Zhuk

It seems to me that we think about how to escape the binary logic of work and rest and other opposing concepts that are already captured by the existing capitalist dynamic. We are trying to understand whether there is, or rather, is it possible to make a step to the side, not thinking about your practice as an escapist practice, a practice of escape or resistance, but rather as an emancipatory practice which could be an instrument of identification, of collective solidarity.

 Aleksei Borisionok

It seems to me that, in fact, this issue is important, and speaking exclusively about artistic practices, about art as a certain invention format, the most significant thing is that art – outside the institutional context – has the ability, unlike many other spheres, to expand the space for imagination, the imagination which is associated not only with the future but also with the past – with the synchronisation and desynchronisation of various temporalities. In this sense, for me, art or some of its forms remain the space where I can think about the alienation and non-alienation, and that includes life, creative thinking, inventive competencies or skills. Art contributes to the development of these skills.

 Nicolay Spesivtsev

I am interested in how speculative-functional and cross and connections between the field of art, and for example, the philosophical scene, IT sector, culture professionals practices, in general, are formed and induced. Perhaps, this is one of the ways of the deformation of the existing power dynamics. I would not suggest resistance, rather the creation of riffles and overlapping movement.

 

 

RB!OB! can be described as a self-organizing platform, and as a chain of events, and as a laboratory. It consists of Aleksey Borisenok, Dina Zhuk, Nikolay Spesivtsev and Olya Sosnovskaya.

 

Antonina Stebour is a curator and researcher. She graduated from Visual and Cultural Studies at the European Humanities University (Vilnius, Lithuania) and the School of Engaged Arts (CHTO DELAT art group, Saint-Petersburg, Russia). A member of the #DamaUdobnayavBytu group (#LadyOfConvenience), exploring the feminist agenda in the post-Soviet context. She was the curator of a number of exhibitions in Belarus, Russia, Poland, France and China. Her research and curatorial interests include community, reassessment of everyday practices, feminist criticism, new sensitivity, grassroots initiatives.

 

Editors: Ina Hildebrandt, Ira Konyukhova

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