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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Open call for participation in the international summer school in St. Petersburg

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The Chto Delat School of Engaged Art
The legacy of Soviet politics – why do we need to save it?
August 15th – 21th 2016 in Saint Petersburg, Russia

The call addresses any cultural workers who are interested to get involved in our educational practice and to experience the unique situation and histories of the Russian/St. Petersburg cultural and activist scenes.

“Chto Delat” has been running a School of Engaged Art in St. Petersburg for the last 3 years and this project became recognized locally and internationally for its cutting-edge experimentation in art education. The project is run in the Russian language and built a wide community from different localities inside Russia and other countries from the former Soviet Union.
For the first time we have decided to open up the School for international participants because we believe that it is very important to show how our work is embedded in the local situation and how small communities of learners could contribute to social and political change despite the oppressive and suffocating political climate of today’s Russia.
We build a curriculum of our summer school with a focus on soviet legacy and local cultural and political histories of the city. This sounds legitimate specially in a situation when there is a big buzz of celebrating the centenary of the Russian revolution. It does not mean that we believe in a certain authenticity of the place where it happened and we need to come to the mystical roots of the revolution. Not at all. But we believe that there are certain material traces – places and knowledge which are better accessible through a modest field research and we invite you to take part in this adventure with us. The Chto Delat collective very often use the method of actualization in our artistic practice – to find forgotten, lost, misinterpreted events in the past and transform them into an actual, inspiring and driven force for today’ urgencies. And we will practice this strategy in the process of our collective learning at the Summer School.
The team of the school consists of core members of the Chto Delat collective such as Alexander Skidan, Tsaplya Olga Egorova, Dmitry Vilensky, Artemy Magun, Oxana Timofeeva, Nikolay Oleynikov, Gluklya Natalia Pershina who will provide you insights into different aspect of local life (philosophy, arts, urban studies, dance, theater, poetry) and so on. Also we invite a few guest local teachers who are acclaimed experts in different fields.
Unfortunately we do not have any resources for making this program. The Chto Delat school has not received any grants for its realization. Our regular school exists with the support of Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Moscow but it covers only costs of our regular activity. There are no cultural bodies which might support it. All our work is based on free access. This time we understood that we can hardly realize such an ambitious project without your support and donation. We hope that most of the applicants would find a way to receive a support from different donors. So, we need to charge a fee for the 7 full days of participation in our program of 400 Euros. This sum includes a free accommodation in a hostel in Petersburg, lunches and coffee breaks and of course all facilities for the school which we need to rent.
Those who are interested please apply untill May 22th with your short motivation letter and CV at
The course is limited to 25 participants.

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