Chto Delat? / What is to be Done?

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The collective Chto Delat (What is to be done?) was founded in early 2003 in Petersburg by a workgroup of artists, critics, philosophers, and writers from St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Nizhny Novgorod with the goal of merging political theory, art, and activism.

The group was constituted in May 2003 in St. Petersburg in an action called “The Refoundation of Petersburg.” Shortly afterwards, the original, as yet nameless core group began publishing an international newspaper called Chto Delat?. The name of the group derives from a novel by the Russian 19th century writer Nikolai Chernyshevsky, and immediately brings to mind the first socialist worker’s self-organizations in Russia, which Lenin actualized in his own publication, “What is to be done?” (1902). Chto Delat? sees itself as a self-organized platform for a variety of cultural activities intent on politicizing “knowledge production” through redefinitions of an engaged autonomy for cultural practice today.

The array of activities is coordinated by a core group including following members:

Tsaplya Olga Egorova (artist, Petersburg), Artiom Magun (philosopher, Petersburg), Nikolay Oleynikov (artist, Moscow), Natalia Pershina/Glucklya (artist, Petersburg), Alexey Penzin (philosopher, Moscow), David Riff (art critic, Moscow), Alexander Skidan (poet, critic, Petersburg), Oxana Timofeeva (philosopher, Moscow), and Dmitry Vilensky (artist, Petersburg). In 2012 the choreographer Nina Gasteva has joined a collective after few years of intense collaboration. Since then many Russian and international artist and researchers has participated in different projects realized under the collective name Chto Delat? (see descriptions of each projects on this web site)


Chto Delat? collective in Kronstadt in 2005
Standing: from the right: Oleynikov, Gluklya, Timofeeva, Shuvalov, Tsaplya, Riff, Penzin; Sitting: Magun and Vilensky


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Chto Delat withdraws from Manifesta 10

Posted in Dmitry Vilensky, Texts | 4 comments

In solidarity with the Peace March in Moscow today Chto Delat announces its decision to withdraw from Manifesta 10

On March 11th, Manifesta Foundation responded to recent calls for boycotts, cancelation and postponement of Manifesta 10, planned to open at the State Hermitage Museum in early summer.

In this long-awaited statement, the foundation announced that it will not cancel under the present circumstances. Also, presumably responding to calls for the exhibition’s radicalization, curator Kasper König reaffirmed his commitment to a group show demonstrating the broadest possible spectrum of art’s possibilities, emphasizing that his contract allows artistic freedom – within the limits of the Russian law – and that he will (try) to keep the show free of censorship. But at the same time, he also restated his dislike for “cheap provocations” in topical political references, warning that Manifesta 10 at Hermitage could be “misused by political actors as a platform for their own self-righteous representation,” and insisting that “it is [his] hope to present far more than just commentary on the present political circumstances.” ( It is clearly art over politics. Kaspar König’s most recent statement denigrates any attempts to address the present situation in Russia by artistic means, demoting them to “self-righteous representation” and “cheap provocation” and thus effectively preemptively censoring them.

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Anti-anticommunism, a play in space – project at Tranzit Display, Prague

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Chto Delat

Dmitry Vilensky

Tsaplya Olga Egorova, Nikolay Oleynikov,
Dmitry Vilensky, Gluklya Natalya Pershina

Martina Malinová
(song Who thus spoke of solitude? -
the fragment from a text by ALAIN BADIOU “Of an Obscure Disaster”)

The play consists of 5 elements

1. The film program (run in loop) compiled of two films which directly confront the history of the communist ideas and its realization: The Partisan Songspiel: A Belgrade Story (2009) and The Baden-Baden Lessons of Dis-consent (2011) (Both directed by Tsaplya Olga Egorova). Both films are staged reconstructions of situations in which the ghost from the past appears completely out-of joint and at a wrong moment and place.

2. Installation Anti-anticommunism specially created for the space of Transit display and which will be a poetic metaphor on the topic (realized by Nikolay Oleynikov and Dmitry Vilensky).

3. The recording of a fragment of the Alen Badiou article “Of an Obscure Disaster. On the End of the Truth of State” which will be a sound track in the installation and played by Martina Malinová.

4. The newspaper publication where we publish a few texts reflecting the current state of the discussion on the idea of communism.

5. Open discussions on the topic of the show.

the publication with the concept of the show and related texts: 

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