Educational Models

The School of Emergency

 The School of Emergencies initiated by collective Chto Delat is a transdisciplinary school for artists, writers, researchers and activists. The urgency of the school was created by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, uprising in Belarus and waves of political refuges from Russia, after growing fascisization of Russian politics. The school fellows together with mentors and invited teachers are working with these issues in the broader context of climate crisis, fossil fascism, refugee crisis, austerity measures, growing nationalistic tendencies, haunting spirits from the past, dehumanization and urgent demands for decolonization and demilitarization. They try to find a new artistic languages which are capable of grasping the situation of more and more absurd world.


What should we learn in/from desperate, helpless and absurd situations?
What kind of art and knowledge could be produced at the moment of disasters, states of emergencies and by those who lost their homes?

The School of Emergencies is a temporary educational initiative which goal is to create a situated and engaged knowledge which enable their participants collectively rethink and cultivate a new models of tactical and strategic survivance in the hard days of crisis, wars and lost future.

The school is going to study and reflect different states of emergency which, as know after Walter Benjamin, is not an exception but a rule and in the current situation of global turbulence we need to consider, to trace and map different situation and speculate on their connections and mutual influences.

The realization of this international project is plan to happen in different locations – the first platform has already happened in Stockholm in cooperation with Hägerstensåsens medborgarhus (November 2022- May 2023), the School of Emergency has participated with installation ”Educational models” at the exhibition ”Educational web” at Kunstverein in Hamburg  (April – August 2023), it organized a summer school in collaboration with HFBK in Hamburg and now (August 2023) plan few more temporary educational initiatives in Belgrade (with cooperation with Center for Political de-contamination in September 2023) and in Yerevan (in cooperation with Institute of Contemporary Art – Novemeber/December 2023) – then we will see if it makes sense to continue in this turbulent situation when we do not know what could happen in next weeks.

And the School has its based in the Emergency Project in Berlin Mitte where different community projects and informal residency is taken place.


please find a comprehensive materials on the School of Engaged Art at this link

The talk about the history of the school – Dmitry Vilensky, Chto Delat in a dialogue with Sam Thorn, art director of Tate St Ives editor of Frieze Magazine and co-founder of Open School East London. The text is published at the book School: Conversations on Art and Self-Organised Education, Sternberg Press, 2017

Education which lost its home: Chto Delat Educational models

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realized for the exhibition “Educational Web” at Kunstverein in Hamburg

important critic of the show by Anja Steidinger and Nora Sternfeld – “Whose Web is the Web?: Notes on “The Educational Web

This exhibition project has a long history, beginning during the Covid epidemic, it was postponed several times and changed several places of realization. Now it has materialized in a completely new reality shaped by war, the flight of graduates and teachers from Russia and Ukraine, and a situation where the meanings of things has seemingly collapsed.
In 2022, our project The School of Engaged Art in St. Petersburg ceased to exist. This was also marked by our exodus from our city, along with most of the community of critically minded artists, researchers, and activists that called St. Petersburg home. This is not to say that we were not prepared for this situation. During the first enrolment of the school in 2013, we experienced shock when the outbreak of war and the annexation of Crimea occurred. Our school always had many participants from Ukraine. Tragically, we experienced the breakup of our shared post-Soviet space. This year will be the school’s tenth anniversary, and looking back, we have been operating and learning in a state of emergency this whole time, but even in this generally hostile situation, we have managed to find ways to talk, create new works, and exercise our autonomy. But the escalation of a full-scale war and the rise of fascist tendencies in Russia have left us no chance of surviving even in the dissident model of confidential counter-public space. Now we are forced to change our work completely, following the flows of migration of our alumni and faculty who have found themselves in the most unexpected places.


Our school has lost its home, the place where it was rooted, and has become a wandering structure of the School of Emergencies, open to different contexts and a new assembly of confused bodies and thoughts. We have become homeless. More precisely, we begin to build our home from where we are now, from where our beds stand. From a place where we can stop along the way and begin to think about what the future holds for us and how we can care about a common future. But our beds don’t give us rest—they are like boats in a stormy sea, on the waves of which we are tossed with the rest of the other migrants. We are looking for a way to navigate, and here we are helped by memories of our Comrade-Blanket. This is an object that our school’s participants made back in 2016, and since then, it has served to shelter many sleeping bodies, tired from discussion or dance—it doesn’t matter. It’s a powerful tool for producing shared dreams and solidarity.


Changing from year to year, now with portraits of our (un)queer-(un)dead-teachers, it covers our restless beds, again uniting us and sustaining us. Flashback-fragments of video works carried out by participants in the school throughout its activity take us back in time, and we see some documentation of the school activities – like publications, quotes, photos at our archival documentation scrolls. This textile are coming together on the podiums with our maquettes of our educational process and former Rosa House of Culture also look to our lost past while proposing a possible future.
One model shows the Rosa House with Haim Sokol’s last exhibition on the walls. Everything is the same, but flooded by the waves of that same raging sea where our beds still float. The class of Political Magic, the class of Celestial Hardwood study, the class of External Environment study—these models are now populated by non-human beings, new students whose bodies have been transformed to survive in our perhaps already post-apocalyptic reality.

Beds installation - dossier page version
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Emergency Commune in Siverskaya (May-August 2022)

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This zine tells the nonlinear story of the commune that existed not far from Saint-Petersburg as a temporary project, initiated by the participants and tutors of the Chto Delat School for Engaged Art.

Russian armed forces were invading Ukraine, our unofficial headquarters at Rosa House of Culture had already closed, many activists and cultural workers — friends and acquaintances among them — were being detained or fleeing abroad. The commune was created in order to provide shelter for those who stayed. There, residents and occasional guests could gather their strength and thoughts, trying to work out the plan at a time when everything went to shit all at once. Although we had many ambitious ideas for the commune, not all of them came to fruition for various reasons — miscommunication, entropy, lack of resources, both material and emotional. This zine reflects on those projects, featuring traces of our collective cognition and imagination. Due to the fact that we worked on the publication collectively, under stress and not without conflicts, it became the collage of various inputs. Here, the reader can find visual and textual contributions provided by residents and guests, sidenotes compiled from various online sources, and poetic sketches on the mundane from the collective Telegram-chat called “Language Refuge” (introduced in the text below). The overall narrative unfolds in parts, each dedicated to a particular theme — from introduction into the commune’s habitat, through the articulation of the rift opened by the war, through the collage representing our shared language, through reports of our bodily experiences, and to the final settlement of the score. The thread helping the reader to crawl through the rabbit hole of the Siverskaya commune is the tail of our magnificent companion — Snezhana the Cat. Although originally we wanted to keep the timeline properly Gregorian and chronological, the sequence of events was skewed beyond repair in the process of editorial work. And it is fitting since such time of a cat’s twisted tail best reflects the fucked up days we have to live in. Conventional time caught up with us in the end though — the commune as a physical space of cohabitation ceased to exist at the end of summer as per original plan. This weirdly coincided with the police raid at our tutors’ dacha located at the same village. We were packing and destroying all evidence of our presence half expecting the law to come through the woods. Luckily, it didn’t happen. We managed to get back to the city safely and complete our work on this publication.

P.S. Scan this QR-code if you want to support and know more about Russian key anti-war initiatives.




1+1+1 / 3 worlds Game of Globes from chto delat on Vimeo.

Emergency commune in Siverskaya village (near Saint Petersburg), late August 2022

During the existence of the commune several video works were shot – some of them were lost in the confiscated computer, some of them were lost in the process of fleeing the country, but this video was recovered.

see more at commune zine publication



Mad Tea Party at the Siverskaya Emergency Commune End of August 2022 from chto delat on Vimeo.

The summer of 2022 was not only scary, but absurdly scary. And throughout our experience of living together, we began to turn frequently to examples of absurdist behavior and literature. And our imaginations were captured by the mad tea party scene in Alice in Wonderland. So, we decided to make our own version.
Looking back, we see a strange realization of the play that happened in real life. In the movie, Alice (Olga Egorova Tsaplya – the Heron, hides behind the camera) keeps suggesting that the tea party participants fill out different questionnaires. Only a month passed after the filming, and in real life, already outside Russia, a list of DK Rosa for a humanitarian visa to Germany was created, which included everyone in the group of specific risk of belonging to DK Rosa and the School of Engaged Art. And everyone involved in the movie had to fill out a lot of bureaucratic paperwork.

see more about Siverskaya Emergency Commune at the zine

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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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Why to become an artist? The experience of the School of Engaged Art (published by Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Moscow)

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A new collection of materials about the School in the period from 2013 to 2016. This publication is one of the first attempts to analyze the situation that has developed with the art education in contemporary art in Russia. In addition to the texts of well-known practitioners and theoreticians of contemporary art, the collection includes texts and documentation of projects of students of the School of Engaged Art.

Authors of the book: Anton Vidokle, Dmitry Vilensky, Gluklya Natalia Pershina, Nina Gasteva, Nikolai Oleynikov, Jonathan B. Platt, Tsaplya Olga Egorova, Nikita Kadan, Victor Misiano, Matthias Meyndl, Natalia Pankina, Cathy Chukhrov, Tina Farni, Lisa Hoffman and others.


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Festival “Poor Dialectics”

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poverty/poor/the poor/ – addressing these concepts immediately places us within the harsh confines of dialectical relations. It compels us to think in terms of oppositions:

weak – strong /// little – big /// fragmentary – whole /// infirm – all-powerful /// poor man – rich man /// extranormative – normative /// oppressed – oppressor /// colonized – colonizer  and so on.

We know that the problem of poverty relates to theology – a certain religious view of the way the world is organized, though at the same time liberation theology sees in poverty both the source of sin and the potential for salvation. But not the kind of salvation that translates certain qualities into their opposites (that which is poor becomes wealth and strength); salvation understood as a mystical, transformative event, negating all divisions and leading to the creation of a new world, in which the oppositions of the previous world have been dismantled. How can that happen? In the past, this type of transformation was called revolution, the coming of the messiah, or kenosis. The term “kenosis” signifies Christ’s self-abasement through becoming human, to the point of willingly accepting the agony of the cross and death. Kenosis represented an act of self-abnegation – Jesus renounced his unlimited divine power, becoming embodied in human form and assuming the image of a slave, while yet not ceasing to be god. By this act, he demonstrates the possibility of a new type of transformation, constitutive of his authority: refusal of power for the sake of obtaining what is greater than power – justice, the equality of each with all, surmounting life’s finitude. More recently, similar theological premises have often provided the foundation for a multitude of philosophical conceptions – consider Badiou’s criticism of Agamben in his book Logic of Worlds, where he speaks of “being as weakness,” a weakness that at the same time corresponds to what Badiou calls the “delicate, almost secret persistence of life, that which remains to one who has nothing left.”


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Jonathan Brooks Platt | Alternative Institutions and Intimate Counter-Publics

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In the context of contemporary Russian artistic and intellectual life, the significance of the Chto Delat School for Engaged Art and Rosa’s House of Culture is difficult to overstate. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union (and, indeed, during the years of perestroika that preceded it) Russian radical art practices have for the most part been profoundly public and performative in orientation. Whether taking the form of street actions, gallery-based performances, or longer-term social interventions based on research—most recent additions to the canon of Russian art have involved public display or the display of the public, while more contemplative projects have been far rarer.

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Documentation of activities of the School of Engaged Art in 2014-2015

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Elena Stolbtseva, Irina Aksenova, Ekaterina Shalgamova, Yulia Yakubovitch, Anna Sokolova, Maria Lukjanova, Nadezda Nikiforova, Anastasya Ryabtzeva, Tonya Melnik, Valentina Petrova, Sasha Katchko, Alena Isakhanyan, Natalya Pankova, Nadezda Kalyamina, Alexander Budaev, Denis Semenov, Svetlana Kalinitcheva


Bulletin of the School of Engaged Art №4

in a framework of the exhibition
O yeah, I remember!

Participants: Elena Stolbtseva, Irina Aksenova, Ekaterina Shalgamova, Yulia Yakubovitch, Anna Sokolova, Maria Lukjanova, Nadezda Nikiforova, Anastasya Ryabtzeva, Tonya Melnik, Valentina Petrova, Sasha Katchko, Alena Isakhanyan, Natalya Pankova, Nadezda Kalyamina, Alexander Budaev, Denis Semenov, Svetlana Kalinitcheva, Liza Syomitcheva and Ilya Firdman

Tutors: Nina Gasteva, Tsaplya Olga Egorova, Nikolay Oleynikov and Dmitry Vilensky


Bulletin of the School of Engaged Art №3

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Documentation of activities of the School of Engaged Art in 2013-2014

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Documentation of the performance Atlas is tired (June 2014, with English subtitles)

Атланты. Документация перформанса Школы Вовлеченного Искусства //// Atl from chto delat on Vimeo.

Bulletin of the School of Engaged Art №2

Documentation of the Learning Play (January 2014, Factory, Moscow) 

Быстрее! Острее! Аппетитнее! from chto delat on Vimeo.

Bulletin of the School of Engaged Art №1

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Зачем становится художником. Опыт Школы Вовлеченного Искусства

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новый сборник материалов о работе Школы в период с 2013 по 2016. Эта издание является одной из первых попыток проанализировать ситуацию, сложившуюся с художественным образованием в современном искусстве в России. Кроме текстов известных практиков и теоретиков современного искусства сборник включает в себя тексты и документацию проектов студентов Школы Вовлеченного Искусства.

Публикация издательства Фонда Розы Люксембург под редакцией коллектива «Что Делать». Книга распространяется свободно.

Авторы книги: Антон Видокль, Дмитрий Виленский, Глюкля Наталья Першина, Нина Гастева, Николай Олейников, Джонатан Б. Платт, Цапля Ольга Егорова, Никита Кадан, Виктор Мизиано, Маттиас Мейндл, Наталья Панкина, Кэти Чухров, Тина Фарни, Лиза Хоффман.

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