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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: representation  

6th September 2019

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

interview

Third Trimester I, Kamee Abrahamiam
Mixed Media Collage, 8x10 cm
Third Trimester II, Kamee Abrahamiam
Mixed Media Collage, 8x10 cm
Myrtle, Kamee Abrahamiam
Mixed Media Collage, 6x7 cm
Seeds, Kamee Abrahamiam
Mixed Media Collage, 16x20 cm

This meeting came about through a facebook post linking a Mexican artist Julieta Aranda who lives in Berlin, and an Armenian curator and activist Anna Kamay. After several conversations via mail and phone, we have finally met with them both to discuss the issues of motherhood and femininity in the arts.

 

TransitoryWhite

Dear Anna and Julieta, thanks for finding time for this conversation! Let’s start talking about Annas current project “Juggling Dinosaurs”. Would you, Anna, introduce the project? Where did the name come from and how it is evolving right now?

Anna Kamay

I’ve been working on this project for a couple of years already. The topic of motherhood is fascinating to me because all of the projects that I ever worked on were based on my personal experience, so I believe the personal is political.

I'm a single mother, and at the same time, I'm a freelancer, which is not a common thing in Armenia. Most of the artists have a secure job together with their art practice because you can’t earn money in Armenia with art - like everywhere else as well, I guess. So, one day I was juggling with my daughter’s plastic dinosaur toys, and my friend Tereza Davtyan, who is a curator, said: "This could be the name of your project!" We were thinking of the dinosaurs, which are the social norms and expectations from women that we have in our society. They are almost extinct, and at the same time, they are so huge. We know we cannot meet up with all these expectations. 

I started my research, and I saw that in Armenia, we don't have many female artists - mostly they are male. Especially after becoming mothers is when women withdraw from the art scene. There is simply no platform for them, where they could be present or would be able to develop their art without being deprived of the possibility to take care of their children.

TransitoryWhite

Do you have any precedents in Armenia/Caucasus with that kind of associations?

Anna Kamay

In Armenia, we don't have any precedent of self-organised maternal groups. During Electric Yerevan protest in 2015 and the Velvet Revolution in 2018, there were attempts to form a group of parent activists who took turns babysitting their children so that the parents could take part in the demonstrations, but it didn’t become popular. Then, I started looking at other countries in the region, and I still haven’t found anything relatable yet. However, I came across some initiatives in Belarus. There's an art centre in Brest, where mothers in arts unite, and they also curated one project about it. In Ukraine, there is possibly one partner organisation. Now I'm looking for a partner in Poland because in all these countries the situation is the same: post-soviet background, kind of anarchy in terms of social security, no collective consciousness. We don't have this collective unity with numerous communities that exist in Europe. Now, I also started researching initiatives in the West.

I AM VERY VOCAL ABOUT MOTHERHOOD, BECAUSE I DON'T SEE A LOT OF SUPPORT IN THE ART WORLD FOR WOMEN THAT WANT TO HAVE A FAMILY

TransitoryWhite

  

I would like to ask Julieta now that we’re coming to the situation in the Western countries. Julieta, you live in Berlin and raise your child alone. What challenges do you have here?

Julieta Aranda

Having a child, being a single mother is not something that “happened to me”, but something that was done very, very consciously. And before I went ahead with it, while I was researching reproductive technologies, I was pondering a lot: what will happen to my career? And, what kind of effect will motherhood have on my work, and how will I manage to work and to support my child? I tried to calculate and plan, but of course, this is one of those things in life that you can never estimate in its entirety.

Third Trimester I, Kamee Abrahamiam
Mixed Media Collage, 8x10 cm

The reality of it is that it is incredibly hard to have a child because it is relentless. It is something that happens all day, every day, and if you are alone, you have to take care of everything. I have to manage to be a balanced human being, to remember to trim my son’s fingernails and to give him love. At the same time, I have to provide myself with love and care, because if I'm unhappy, my son will not be happy either.

TransitoryWhite

How do you deal with all those demands that come to you as an artist and a mother?

Julieta Aranda

I am very vocal about motherhood, because I don't see a lot of support in the art world for women that want to have a family, and it is a situation I want to challenge and change as much as I can. There are a lot of conversations and conferences on interesting social practices and exciting community-based work, but the discussion about something that is as essential to society as bringing up a child just doesn't enter the conversation. It's not even supported in a practical sense. For example, the time for art events is always between 6 and 9 pm. These are the main parenting hours of the day. So you’re invited to an event, but what are you going to do with your child during that time?

Another example:  was recently invited to do a three-month residency in Singapore, and once I accepted the invitation, I was told: "you cannot bring your child". So, what do you expect me to do? Leave a two-year-old child alone for three months?

TransitoryWhite

We’ve seen this much-shared post on facebook about the story with residency in Singapore. How did the situation evolve after you went public with it?

Julieta Aranda

Well, I put up a fight with them. And we reached a kind of compromise: I would be allowed to bring my son -but then my residency would be only one-month long instead of three months; I would be responsible for all the expenses related to my son while in Singapore. But after this conversation, I realised that I was not happy and that this particular residency had lost its appeal for me. I was invited to do this residency by people that know me personally, and that know perfectly well my situation as a single mother. And to be asked to leave my child behind became completely unacceptable to me. This is a perfect example of the idea that as a woman (things pertaining to family matters are incredibly gender-based) you have to choose. Being forced to choose and sacrifice one’s personal life for the sake of a potential professional career is something that the art world has never requested of male artists.

I also get upset when meeting me on an art event people ask: "How is your child?".  I know it's very well-intentioned, but I’m here to talk about my work. It's important for me to try to figure out how to create a space where having a child or a family does not become a disadvantage. We are monkeys; we are the kind of animals that thrive on families and groups, so why am I asked to give up my family? To feed the cliché of the artist as a fragile, neurotic and isolated figure? 

TransitoryWhite

There are successful female artists who decide against having children because they want to dedicate their lives to an art career. Particularly for women-artists, there is an unwritten rule: if you want to make a career in art, there is no room for children.

Julietta Aranda

Women disappear from the art scene anyway after they turn 40, regardless of whether they have reproduced or not; as if talent was dependent on fertility. It's not a coincidence that many female artists are beautiful. It has something to do with the economies of desire - Artist Mira Schor has stated formula of the three stages of the woman artist’s life is: “young and naked, still too young, not dead enough”. 

In general, male artists careers have a higher chance to last, while female artists keep being replaced by younger ones. And if these are the odds, I am not interested in giving up my family so that I can belong to a field that will probably forget me once that I reach middle age. 

WOMEN ARE NOT A MINORITY. MOTHERS ARE NOT A MINORITY.

TransitoryWhite

There is another interesting point in the discussion: some artists include their children in their artwork after birth and some switch entirely to the topic of motherhood. In your case, have you changed your artistic approach since you became a mother?

Julieta Aranda

I don't want to make work about being a parent. I love my son, but my work is not about him. My work has never been about my personal life. But some people have indeed expected that all of a sudden my work is going to become something that it has never been and that I'm going to start making work about my placenta, or something like that...

TransitoryWhite

In 2018 there was a big show in Kunstquartier Bethanien in Berlin about motherhood. What do you think about this particular and other similar initiatives? Do these projects bring us forward to achieve our goal of equality?

Julieta Aranda

I think that women are not a minority. Mothers are not a minority. Everybody has a mother. And this is why I do not want to be relegated to women shows, or mothers-only shows. Motherhood is not a disability that needs to be compensated for. I want to be in exhibitions as an artist, not as a representative of some kind of perceived minority (women/mother/Mexican). The truth is that the art world cannot consider itself inclusive if all successful artists are men. And in order to create a rich, complex, polyphonic artworld, we need to make allowances for the many realities that people live. Not everyone is young, rich, single, white and male. In the set of realities that I inhabit, motherhood takes a lot of space. And I am not an exception; I am one of many. We have seven billion people in the world, so reproduction is something that is happening all the time. To refuse to take these realities into account, while we claim the artworld as a socially and politically engaged field, is irresponsible, in my opinion.

Anna Kamay

It's true that we're not a minority, I agree with you, Julieta and Ira. But throughout history, women were excluded from the discourse, and they had no chance, they were invisible. The topic of womanhood and motherhood was sexualised and brought down to Jesus and Mary. Motherhood was like a taboo topic; it was never there. That is why I think that this exhibition is a good idea. But it shouldn't be an exclusive event; it just has to be present everywhere. We need to start somewhere. And maybe this exhibition is a good choice. Because I believe that we need some success stories of self-organised communities of people who sit in solidarity with mothers who have an example or a model that we can make it, advocate for it, become supported by the state. If there are no such examples, we cannot stand up for them.

TransitoryWhite

What strikes me most is the prevailing view that we live in post-feminist countries where inequality is part of the class problem but no longer a gender problem. We all know that it is only partially true. But when we talk about women in art, we have the same - practically the same - situation as maybe 50 years ago. 

Third Trimester II, Kamee Abrahamiam
Mixed Media Collage, 8x10 cm

Julieta Aranda

We also still have a pay gap. When a man has children, he tends to get a salary raise, because now he has one more mouth to feed. When a woman has children, she gets a pay cut. It doesn't matter if she's a single mother or if she has a husband - the rationale for this being that, now that she is a mother, “she won’t be able to focus on her work fully because her mind is elsewhere.” If I can’t make it to a meeting, it's easier for me to say that my car broke down, or that I have a dentist appointment, than to say that my son has a dental appointment, or that my child is sick. Because if I say that, it is assumed that I am not taking things seriously enough. 

FEMINISM IS AN INCLUSIVE MOVEMENT! 

TransitoryWhite

What is your experience with the feminist communities in Armenia, Anna? In Yerevan, we personally met many feminist activists who were very vocal about the oppression of women in art.

Anna Kamay

 

The feminist circles in Armenia are mostly child-free. It means they are excluding you because of a child. This is for me, the worst! Feminism is an inclusive movement! How can you just not include the mothers? It must be considered that motherhood is not only a personal but a political decision: mothers are bringing up the next generation. One of the most prominent feminists in Armenia also has a baby now. I saw on facebook that she brought her child there, and it made me so happy. I was rubbing hands thinking: “Okay, it's starting”.

I try to organise the residency here because I have space here (Nest Artist Residency and Community Center) and we just need some funding, so I can start working on it. I will invite artists from abroad, and it will be mainly focused on the mothers since it’s rare for fathers to be the caretakers of children in our reality.

TransitoryWhite

Are you going to accept fathers too?

Anna Kamay

I think, if the fathers are the ones who are really taking care of their kids, just like the majority of mothers do, then yes.  But the whole thing is that women are becoming invisible after becoming mothers in a contemporary art field. For this reason, this is about women, mostly.

TransitoryWhite

How do you want to organise the childcare in these residencies?

Anna Kamay

Right now, I'm trying to figure out the model. It's either going to be entirely self-organised, where the parents will decide who's taking care of the child, taking shifts between babysitting and working. Or I will have a professional nanny to take care of the kids while all the artists will be working. There are precedents in the Netherlands and in the UK for this kind of residences for mothers in arts. 

TransitoryWhite

Do you manage to get some funding for that?

Anna Kamay

 

I don't have any funding from the Armenian government. But I hope to get some funding from European organisations.

My goal is to promote solidarity in society for children. Even, if you decide not to become a mother, you should know that all these children are going to be our future, they will be decision-makers, so you better address them as human beings and not ignore them. I'm taking my child to places because I want people to see that I can be here with the child. 

TransitoryWhite

I think we have two different approaches to motherhood within art structures here. Julieta, you say that you as an artist don't really want to be seen now only as a mother. So, your point of view is a bit different from Anna's who focuses on her personal experiences and wants to share her ideas about it. Your focus is more on the social problems and the social structures that cause the discrimination that you are exposed to.

Julieta Aranda

For me, my work has never been personal, and my work has never been about me. And I think it would be bizarre if all of a sudden, I would start making work about my life. It is my life, and I’m very vocal about the complexity of being a mother in the art world; I am open and public about the process I have gone through, but it doesn’t have to become my work. And after having gone through this experience, I believe that several things need to be done and addressed, from the practical to the symbolic. On the practical side, create an environment that takes family structures into account, i.e. make childcare available at talks, at museums, at art events. And if you are an institution that invites a mother to take part in some event, you should find childcare for her during this time. Finally: increase the salaries of women if they have families.

Myrtle, Kamee Abrahamiam
Mixed Media Collage, 6x7 cm

Anna Kamay

I do understand your point. But I think the reason why many artists after becoming mothers start working on the topic of motherhood is that it becomes such a big part of their life that it's too overwhelming. And they start working on it as on an art project as well, and when their children grow up, they may begin working on other topics.

However, I am happy to meet someone from a different perspective. It is important for me to see that there are some artists who only want to do their art and are not considered as mothers. It's good to know, and I think that there are many people like you. Do you feel isolated?

Julieta Aranda

No, not isolated. But there are not so many people that go ahead and have their children made in a laboratory - that's not something that happens very often. We also have to remember that there's a lot of precarity in the art world. If you don't have basic financial security, it is harder to think about raising a family.

TransitoryWhite

I would like to thank you both for taking the time to have this interesting conversation.

 

 

Julieta Aranda earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts (2001), and a Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University School of the Arts (2006), both in New York. Aranda’s work is focused on the aesthetic potential of the role played by circulation. She manipulates existing circulation formats to generate viable propositions for alternative transactions of cultural capital. These explorations have taken several forms, including printed media, installation, video and the creation of alternative spaces to explore concepts such as power, politics, reciprocity, systems of popular culture and the production of cultural expectations. Three years ago, Julieta became a single mother through the use of assisted reproductive technology.

 

Anna Kamay is an independent curator and cultural manager currently based in Yerevan. Anna organises community-based arts projects intending to use public space and art to meet local needs and manages Nest Artist Residency and Community Center at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Yerevan.  The project Anna Kamay is currently working on is "Juggling Dinosaurs" created during her studies at the Visegrad Academy of Cultural Management (2017) highlighting the place of women, especially mothers in arts and ways they reconcile their practice with motherhood. The project tackles the notion of modern motherhood in post-soviet space and the societal expectations from women concerning work, activism, motherhood and womanhood.

 

Kamee Abrahamian was born into an Armenian family displaced from the SWANA (southwest asian, north african) region, and grew up in an immigrant suburb of Toronto. They arrive in the world today as a queer and feminist mother, interdisciplinary creative, scholar, writer, producer, and facilitator. They have a BFA/BA in film and political science (Concordia University), an MA in expressive art therapy (European Graduate Institute), and soon to be MA/PhD in community, liberation, indigenous and eco psychologies (Pacifica Graduate Institute). 

http://saboteurproductions.com

 

English editor: Alexandra Vetter

Editor: Ira Konyukhova, Ina Hildebrandt

 

 

 

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