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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The Summer School of Engaged Art An open call for participation in a project

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initiated by Chto Delat collective and supported by Rosa Luxemburg Foundation 

We invite you to apply for the Summer school which will take place in Berlin from 30.07.2015 until 09.08.2015

The participation in the school is free. Travel and accomodation costs can be provided for a limited number of participants from Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union. The number of participants is limited to 30 people and travel grants will be considered on each personal case.

Application deadline – 21.06.2015. The decision on participants will be announced till the end of June.

The program addresses a young generation of artists and activists those who lives or originates from ex-socialist countries and want to find new ways to influence their society through a variety of experimental practices which question the notion of art and conventional approaches to politics.


What is socialist art?

Since 2013, the Russian Collective Chto Delat ( has conceptualized and implemented an experimental educational platform – the School for Engaged Art in St. Petersburg, supported by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (Moscow). The project has gained serious recognition in the Russian public sphere and among young professionals who use the school as a tool of political and civic empowerment. The school has also gained significant attention among the international scene as a unique attempt to reclaim and reconsider new forms of emancipatory education through art practice.

General outlines

The collective Chto Delat is well known for its utopian questioning and promoting the communist imaginary and desires. With the project of our summer School, we want to focus on a more pragmatic approach to the arts and scrutinize different artistic practices, which operate today in a hostile world of commodity fetishism but are structured in a fundamentally different way.  We think that it has become  more urgent than ever, since we, the cultural workers, are challenged by developments of the new European left popular movements and parties which demonstrate the courage to claim the power and thus have to restructure not just urgent economic issues and fight against austerity but also to provide a new vision of cultural politics (as the case of Syriza or Podemos) providing a possibility of true socialist political change for a future.

There is a certain numbers of artistic positions in contemporary art which do not subjugate to the logic of capital and profit but try to establish a viable alternative to the current system. These practices will be discussed in the School with a team of tutors (4 artists from collective Chto Delat) and guest teachers who will help us to gain an overview of urgencies and traps of these issues. Among the guest teachers will be: Boris Buden, Alice Creischer and Andreas Siekman, Marina Naprushkina, Vincent van Gerven Oei, Konstanze Schmitt and David Riff.

At the end of the School the participants will present the results to a Berlin public in the form of a collective performance: a learning play.


please send a short CV, motivation letter, and short essay – your choice of example of socialist art practice of today and motivate what socialist about it to the mail



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