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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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Rosa’s House of Culture (ДК РОЗЫ – Дом Культуры Розы)

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Rosa’s House of Culture (ДК РОЗЫ – Дом Культуры Розы) – is an initiative of collective Chto Delat.
It is the space and process in which critical and leftist art is building its new engaged public. It is very important to understand what is happening with an alternative forms of artistic communication at the moment when it is more and more criminalized by new laws and the state structures and exist in a situation of staged aggression from general public and at the same time risks all forms of instrumentalization from the side of neo-liberalism.

The Rosa’s House of Culture is about constructing counter-public at the moment of closure of publicness.
This project is questioning the legacy of Soviet tradition of Houses of Culture which was a well-spread state supported infrastructure for leisure and educational activities of people in Soviet Union. What can we learn from that experiences and how can we imagine a new model of House of Culture in composing a counter-public sphere?
How this places could “function as spaces of withdrawal and re-groupment and/or as training grounds for agitational activities directed toward wider publics” (Nancy Fraser).
For realizing this research and praxis we have decided to establish an experiment in operating a space where members of different marginalized leftist collectives invent and maintain their activities, which in turn permit them to shape and defend their identities, interests, and needs and how this different groups could come together and mutually support each other at a dark times.

The core of the activities of our “D.K. Rosy” (Rosa’s House of Culture) are different initiatives which we welcome from different field of activism and alternative educational initiatives such as an grass roots unions of IT workers, the union structure of educational workers (профсоюз «Учитель»), some self-organized feminist theater groups, sewing educational co-operative “Shvemy”, School of Engaged Art and many others.

The main function of this space is to bring these diverse groups into dialogue which could lead into building of a new composition of solidarity and engagement into common mutually supporting activities.

At the moment the premises of D.K. Rosy consists of an exhibition and lecture hall which can accommodate up to 100 people and smaller spaces for different seminars and workshop activities – we welcome anyone who shares our position to join us.

D.K. Rosy has started its activity with the support and in the framework of the international project Draft ( – initiated by Institute for Contemporary Art Research IFCAR
Zurich University of the Arts ZHdK


Rosa's House of Culture – live & events | ДК РОЗЫ – события и жизнь from chto delat on Vimeo.

ДК РОЗЫ (Дом Культуры Розы) – инициатива коллектива Что Делать, направленная на создание и исследования процессов,
в которых современное критическое и левое искусство формирует свою новую вовлеченную аудиторию.
Проект опирается на историю Домов Культуры в социалистических странах, текущий опыт антикапиталистического развития социальных центров в Европе и Латинской Америки и тенденции прогрессивных арт-институций, ориентированных на развитие альтернативных аудиторий современного искусства
Rosa’s House of Culture – is an initiative of collective Chto Delat. It is the space and process in which critical and leftist art is building its new engaged public. This project is questioning the legacy of Soviet tradition of Houses of Culture and also a tradition of social centers in Europe and Latin America and last not least the politics of progressive art institutions. What can we learn from that experiences and how can we imagine a new model of House of Culture in composing a counter-public sphere?

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The School of Engaged Art

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How does one become an artist?

Why should one become an artist?

 What is art today and what role does it play in society?

We aren’t sure that we have ready answers for these and other urgent questions, and this is why we started the school—to meet the younger generation and work out together what is happening with art and the subjectivity of artists here and now, in contemporary Russia.

What do we want from an art school?

First of all, we have no illusions about the miserable situation in which contemporary art finds itself today.  Least of all are we inclined to indulge the free play of “differences” (of little concern to anyone), which provides an excuse for withdrawing from any kind of responsible position.  We want to go against the grain of things and insist that art remains essential for human becoming, that art is always a gesture of negation and a call for the world (and oneself) to become other.  This is what defines the engaged position of the artist in society.  Art, like philosophy, has always been and still remains a special space in which debates about truth can occur.

But how can one defend this position today, when all talk of truth is suspect, interesting only the marginalized, and the borders between art and life, art and media, art and the social sciences, art and activism have been effaced to such an extent that any desire or opportunity to redefine the meaning of art is blocked?

What knowledge should an artist possess?

How should such knowledge be evaluated?

Who has the power to judge whether an artwork is good or bad?

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