Here we collected a series of (mostly) retrospectively made posters which reflect different aspect of our activity with a focus on less visible parts of it.
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)
WRITTEN & STAGED:
Tsaplya Olga Egorova, Nikolay Oleynikov,
Dmitry Vilensky, Gluklya Natalya Pershina
(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:
In recent months, our friends have often asked us (members of Chto Delat collective) to comment on the situation around the realization of Manifesta 10 in Petersburg. We have had many personal conversations, skypes and mails but now, it looks like it is time to summarize things in public.
I have already written a critique on the boycott position (recently updated call to boycott Manifesta can be seen at the official web-site of AICA: http://www.aicanederland.org/manifestas-unfortunate-choice-of-location/), and my position has not changed: a boycott focusing on the local attack on LGBT rights will not benefit but rather harm both local civil society as well as the potential audience of contemporary art in Russia. Putinism never took seriously such measures. Without further discussing why the boycott doesn’t work, it is quite clear that if the goal is to repeal repressive legislation, one needs to use more sophisticated and complex modes of pressure by creating new zones of public life where all forms of confrontation could become visible.
So, what could be done with Manifesta here?
We have received and accepted a pre-invitation of Kasper Konig to participate in his exhibition. It is very important for us and we are in a process of developing a full scale project around our old film “The Tower: a Songspiel”. This musical was realized in 2010 and it was our reflection on the civic resistance to the construction of the Gazprom Tower in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately the film has not lost its political actuality – four years later, we still face the shameless greed of corporation like Gazprom, the disgraceful clericalization of public life, a glut of sheer physical violence, the conscious destruction of civil society and its social space. Our work focuses on finding an artistic language for reflecting and opposing such issues, and therefore often meets a cold reception from Russian institutions, aside from some exceptions. Thus, it is crucial for us to show this piece to the local public. It was never shown properly in Petersburg, and the visibility that Manifesta-Hermitage could provide would vault into above the safe horizon of invisibility into the realm of broader political and artistic significance. This is a minefield of dangers, including direct censorship, at the first sign of which we will have to withdraw from the show.
Also we are looking forward to participate with our new School for Engaged art (1) in different forms of collaboration with the Manifesta Public Program as long as it makes sense for our mutual interest. At the moment, it looks like that our possibilities of collaboration with the Manifesta’s Educational program is not welcomed from their side.