Video Archiv

Video documentation from the Forum 2015 Russia vs. Russia. Cultural conflicts. (Russland vs. Russland. Kulturkonflikte) Kunstquartier Kreuzberg / Bethanien Berlin /  

Coordinate System documentation comes soon…


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Ethics, City and Subjectness.
The Boundaries of Activism and Protest Art
My speech is an attempt to address activism and protest art from two perspectives: firstly, from the urban perspective by using urban science, urban networks and urban space, and secondly referring to subjectness and ethicalisation of political processes. Therefore, I am interested in how political activists are interconnected in urban space, in their ‘social creativity’ and evolution as active and ethical subjects in the context of protest activities in Moscow.
Following the tradition of critical theory (Adorno), theories on subjectness (Foucault, Butler, Reckwitz) and postcolonial studies, I am mainly interested in analysing the boundaries of such terms as a ‘good’ and ‘active citizen’, ‘inhabitant of Moscow’, or an ‘activist’ etc. This allows us to draw attention to such dichotomies as ‘activist vs. victim’, ‘antifascist vs. mi- grant’, ‘activist vs. people’, or ‘corrupt vs. protest artist’.
In my speech, I will particularly focus on some subjectivisation processes employed in dealing with citizens holding oppositionary views and on processes of structural exclusion associated with such subjectivisation. To illustrate this subjectivisation process, one can look at the objectivisation of the ‘ethnically alien’ with the aim to strengthen the position of a tolerant subject. My analysis is based on my empirical studies conducted in 2012-2015 in the tradition of the anthropological activist research (collaborative research).

Olja Reznikova is a cultural scientist. She studied European Ethnology, Geography and Sociology at the LMU, Munich. In her earlier works, she has focused on the analysis of an- ti-Chechen racism and its impact on the newly erected city of Grosny. Currently she is working on her PhD within the framework of the interdisciplinary project ‘Urban Ethics’ with a focus on protests and activism in Moscow. Rezinikova works in the tradition of critical racism research, and critical migration research on the basis of (queer)feminist and post- colonial theories.

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Artist Actions at Politically Charged Places

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The Chronicles of the Russian Activist Art

In this speech I will explore the involvement of contemporary artists in protests in Russia during the past decade and a half. This involvement has altered the role of the artist in contemporary society, leading to the emergence of a burgeoning movement known as activist art.
Today art critics are faced with a challenging task: the neces- sity to articulate and to reflect upon the transformations of the place and function of contemporary artists within rapidly evolving socio-political processes.
The ideal of cultural democratization itself is associated with a whole range of participatory art practices that engage the audience in the creation of an art work. Participatory processes refer us to Joseph Beuys and his idea of “social sculpture” as a direct artistic intervention into reality. It is believed that this hybrid of art and political activism originated in America in the mid-1970s. Activist art has been characterized by innovative uses of public space for addressing socially important topics and rousing communities to action. In Russia, the term has been in use since the early 2010s, when it became obvious there had emerged a circle of artists who interacted with the reality around them in a fundamentally different way.
Now the changing functions of today’s artist-activist should be analyzed: precursor and catalyst of social processes, spokesperson for public sentiment, participant in mass pro- tests and solidarity actions with victims of repression, defender of the rights of minority and socially excluded groups.

Tatiana Volkova is an art historian and independent curator. She lives and works in Moscow. Volkova has held curatorial positions at the Tsaritsino Museum, State Tretyakov Gallery, Re ex Gallery, the Garage and ZHIR project (Moscow). Since 2009, she has been dedicated to activist art. Volkova curated a series of exhibitions of Russian activist artists at the ZHIR project, Moscow (Winzavod Art Centre, 2009-2010); ‘Silence=Death’ exhibition at Artplay Centre (Moscow, 2012), Media Impactors at OKK-Raum-29 (Berlin, 2012); Russian art activists’ show ‘Election festival’ at De Balie (Amsterdam, 2012) and many more. She also co-curated the ‘Art-Abai’ street action together with Denis Musta n (Moscow 2012). Volkova is an initiator and group member of the MediaImpact Festival of Activist Art. Since 2011, it has been held in Novosibirsk, Murmansk, Nizhniy Novgorod, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and in Moscow (three times). From 2013 to 2014, she was part of the curatorial team for the ‘Global Activism’ exhibition at ZKM (Karlsruhe, Germany). Since 2014, Volkova has been head of the curatorial program at the Higher School of the Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow.

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Vasyl Cherepanyn (*1980, Ukraine) is head of Visual Culture Research Centre and editor of the “Political Critique” magazine (Ukrainian edition). He works as a senior lecturer in the Cultural Studies Department at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and holds a Ph.D. in philosophy (with a special focus on aesthetics). He has also worked as a guest lecturer at the Institute for Advanced Studies of the “Political Critique” in Warsaw, Poland and the Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg Greifswald of the Greifswald University, Germany.

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Perspectives of Social Graphic Art in Russia

How can social graphic art be developed without access to a broader audience? The censorship situation in Russia and the creation of social art pieces for export.
In the last few years, Russian society has ceased to be apolitical. How does this influence the language and the aims of social graphic art?
Is social graphic art capable not just of reacting to events but also of showing the perspectives of societal development? Examples.
What does the term ‘artist activist’ mean? How can it be that socially themed graphic art is seen and categorized as ‘activist art’? ‘Artist activists’ of the 20th century.
The evolution process from artist to curator, artists’ self-organisation and attempts of institutionalising. Personal experience and examples (curatorial projects ‘Feminist Pencil’ and ‘Drawing the Courtroom’).

Viktoria Lomasko (1978* in Serpukhov) graduated in 2003 from the Moscow State University of Printing Arts, where she majored in graphic art and book design. Currently she works as a graphic artist with a particular focus on graphic report- age. She draws on Russian traditions of reportage drawing (as practiced during the Siege of Leningrad, in the Gulag, and within the military), and has lectured and written about the topic. In her own graphic reportage work, Lomasko explores current Russian society, especially the inner workings of the country’s diverse communities and groups, such as Russian orthodox believers, LGBT activists, underage prostitutes/sex workers, migrant workers, and collective farm workers. As a graphic reportage artist, she has collaborated with both the mass media and human rights organizations, and her work has been exhibited at numerous shows in Russia and abroad. She is also the co-curator of two long-term projects combining art and activism, ‘Our Courtroom Drawings’ (with Zlata Ponirovska) and ‘Feminist Pencil’ (with Nadya Plungian). The artist lives and works in Moscow.

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Artist’s position in Russia today
The artist in modern Russia is powerless – powerless both in creating a social or political message and in the degrees of influence this message can reach within society. Our art community is an exact re section of the current state of Russian society in general. There is no unity there; it is split into groups and individuals each holding their own point of view and despising their opponents. The number of artists working on political or social topics is exacerbatingly low; the majority of them hold left- eld views and are marginalised. Such art- ists work for themselves or for small groups of like-minded supporters without expressing any wish to work with a broad- er audience and unprepared public, although suggesting that their ideas are aimed at improving society and the political situation.
Speaking about anonymous street statements and even of signed ones, it must be mentioned that the number of politically or socially related pieces or textual messages is negligibly low. It might be a sign of apathy as a result of the current events, a sign of passivity and failure. It is also possible to see it as the lack of efficient criticism or protest as an art statement, or to read it as a hint to the art community to use other forms of social and political activity beyond artistic gestures.

Anna Nistratova (*1975 in Moscow) is an independent curator, researcher and artist. Between 1988 and 2010 she worked for several publications such as “Ogonyok“, “Roll- ing Stone” and contemporary art magazine “Black Square”. Since 2003 she has been working with documental, social and art photography. Nistratova is a co-founder of Agency. Photographer.Ru (2004-2006). In 2009-2010, she worked in Sochi as a producer and interpreter for international journalists, among others for the multimedia research project “The Sochi Project” conducted by Dutch photographer Rob Hornstra and Dutch journalist Arnold van Bruggen. In 2010, she started working at the FLACON design factory in Moscow on the exhibition “Sight Unseen. International Photography by Blind Artists”. Between 2011 and 2013, she curated cultural and social projects of the FLACON design factory. In 2014, she curated the exhibition “Casus Pacis” at the Street Art Museum in St. Petersburg. Since 2015 she has been a di- rector of the “Tolk” Gallery (Nizhny Novgorod) promoting street artists of the city. She specialises in street art, research and sociocultural projects. Besides that she paints, produces street art, practices photography and is working as a cultural journalist and lecturer.

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