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

The Chto Delat School of Engaged Art
Actualization.
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 dmvilen@gmail.com
The course is limited to 25 participants.

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About

Open call for participation in the international summer school in St. Petersburg – August 2016

The Chto Delat School of Engaged Art
Actualization.
The legacy of Soviet politics – why do we need to save it?
August 15th – 24th 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.

freska
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 24th with your short motivation letter and CV at dmvilen@gmail.com
The course is limited to 25 participants.

 

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On “The School of Kyiv – Kyiv Biennial 2015” and the exhibition “Against the Covert War in Ukraine” at the Academy of the Arts of the World, Cologne

Some friends of us and our colleagues have been asking if we are taking part in these coming events (PHONE CALLS FROM THE CEMETERY AND OTHER STORIES and The School of Kyiv – Kyiv Biennial 2015. No we do not. And we have not refused from participation. Just in opposite – we are very glad that these projects are taking place. Both projects are very close to the main topic of our artistic work in last year (the issues of emancipatory education, the war in Ukraine, the possibilities for radical school etc.) and we are looking forward to see many new voices and positions dedicated to these urgent issues which are so important for us. And of course we are very glad to see a few participants and initiatives which cooked inside of our School of Engaged Art.

We wish a good luck to all participants and we definitely study and try to develop the lines of this important projects in the suffocating Russian situation and not only.

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

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 (www.chtodelat.org) 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.

Applications:

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 dmvilen@gmail.com

 

 

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Chto Delat 2014 – remarkable moments

It was a hard year but we tried – despite everything – got some sense out of it – thanks to everyone who make it happen – without you we can hardly survive

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Open Letter – Who are the Friends of Political Critique (Krytyka Polityczna)?

Not too long ago, we ran into some strange and worrying news from Poland. The story happened during a recent public talk of renowned philosopher and political commentator Slavoj Žižek. The discussion was moderated by Sławomir Sierakowski, the leader of the Polish journal and collective “Political Critique” (Krytyka Polityczna), which enjoys wide reputation as a leading Polish left-leaning think tank.

The talk was streamed online and then uploaded onto YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1RJZVd_RmI&feature=youtu.be&t=1h31m).

After Žižek’s talk, the discussion turned to the most pressing issues of the ongoing escalation between Russia, Ukraine and the West. At some point, Žižek noted that he has good friends in Russia, namely, the Chto Delat collective. He said that Chto Delat embodies a position different from both from the liberal-center mainstream that Sierakowski now praises and the mix of left-patriotic and neo-rightists who support in Putin in Russia and Europe.

All of this is true. But in his comment Sierakowski was quick to say something totally hallucinatory, as if it was a known fact. We quote: “Chto Delat supports Kremlin. We have better friends for you in Russia”. This is public now. As a Russian proverb says, “a word is not a sparrow, once it flies out, you won’t catch it”. And we got the message.

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The School for Engaged Art – what is it?

a Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung project

initiated by Chto Delat

 

How does one become an artist?

Why become an artist?

What could art be today, and what could its role in society be?

We are not sure that we know the answers to these important questions and that’s why we started this school; in order to face these issues together with a young generation with whom we need to share our urgencies and concerns.

What do we want from the art school?

First of all, we have no illusions about miserable situation about current stage of artistic production today, but we do not want to coop with this state of things: a free play of all type of différance. And despite of this objective situation we want to share our belief that art is essential for all human becoming, art is always a gesture of negation and a call to the world to be otherwise — thus the role of art in society has always been crucial. And it was and still is a legitimate ground for the crucial quarrel what is the truth.

But what is this role today, when all the borders between art and life, art and media, art and social studies, art and activism, have been destroyed and we have fewer and fewer opportunities to formulate not just the notion of art but even its location?

What kind of knowledge is important to gain to become an artist?

How can this knowledge be evaluated?

Who are the experts who make judgments on what is good and what is bad art?

We feel a strong unease with the current process of academization of artistic education. Maybe it is because none of us (the artists who initiated this school) have ever properly studied art as a discipline. Or maybe we keep believing that art cannot be taught, that it must rather be practiced.

This is why we would like to modestly continue the good old tradition of artists of one generation trying to inspire younger generations with their own beliefs, fears, hopes, love and poetics.

Just to commemorate a long list of such initiatives we want to mention a few – UNOVIS in Vitebsk, Black Mountain College in the US, Soviet confidential circles around dissident artists, Bauhaus and numerous other similar initiatives (1) which left behind tangible and sometimes invisible results. The most important of them have always created a change in communities of enlightened people whose presence in societies made a difference and inspired hope, even in the darkest times.

What kind of art education is possible in the Russian context, where basic democratic freedoms are highly strained and the level of state and everyday violence is steadily increasing? In a situation where there are no academic programs in contemporary art and no institutions (or support) that are concerned with politically engaged practices in art?

We continue to think about art that engages in all the painful processes of the development of our society, about art that cannot hide in the secure ghetto of institutions and proper curriculums. Art that abandons the formalist approach to politics, art that is able to tell stories about humans which touch others, and communicates not just with trained professionals but with a broad audience. To achieve this, we need to obtain knowledge from different disciplines, and then use it in a most heretical way. We need to marry poetry and sociology, choreography and activism, art history and militant research, queer studies and drama theory, political economy and the sublime, artists’ labour rights and romantic visions of art’s mission and so on.

Our project is unique because we want to maintain fidelity to the leftist tradition of modern art, and at the same time escape narrow “old school” approach to politics. We want to experiment with true egalitarian practices of emancipation which succeed despite all the traps of real politics. We think that it is time to build a viable alternative to the private interest of oligarchs, corporations and senseless public entertainment. The 10 years of activity of our collective, and the positioning of the sponsors of our school – “Rosa Luxemburg Foundation” clearly place our educational program on the side of leftist politics in their universal approach to the vocation of human beings.

No one has asked or invited us to open a school – just in opposite – there are many forces which did their best here that this project would never happen. And our school is far from having any standard facilities as a proper art academy. We wish we could have an equipped, permanent base– with classrooms, studios, proper wages and so on — but it is not the case. But our school operates under quite generous conditions – it is free (we even provide a travel and accommodation’ grants to participants outside St. Petersburg), it can provide all teachers a decent remuneration for their labor at highest local standards and we are able to integrate into our activity most remarkable teachers from all disciplines.

The school operate as a module structure – we meet with participants one week in a month – a very intense time during which we run all of our seminars and tutorials, and also mount public presentations and lectures. We have 5 permanent courses composed for one year –The History of Modernist Art (Andrey Fomenko), Aesthetics (Artyom Magun), Body Studies and Choreography (Nina Gasteva), Critical/Poetical Writings (Aleksander Skidan) and English for Artists with Emily Newman. The rest of time we dedicate to practical seminars with 3 tutors (Nikolay Oleynikov, Tsaplya Olga Egorova, Dmitry Vilensky). And of course, we invite occasional guest-speakers for topical discussions with our participants and in the context of public presentations.

From the outset, we established that we would not focus our program on the development of individual projects of our participants (although we of course consult personally with students about their own work as a matter of course.) We decided instead to try to build new forms of collective work – to create knowledge in order to conceive and spread ideas of possible new communities. These ideas are far from the imagination of neutral positivist space of knowledge. We believe that our school is a not a place for learning about whatever is considered good in contemporary art – instead we demand that our students take a position in a world where the main battle is the fight over ideological tendencies. In this, we strive to shape and defend our own tendency with all our means, inherited and new, in the process of mutual learning.

 

Notes:

  1. see a very comprehensive list of initiatives listed in Anton Vidokle’s article:

https://attachment.fbsbx.com/file_download.php?id=149548778587897&eid=ASsfQTKVs91qoa6fqLV2MzGNt9v4LGaLe9ZdC7zM0D0FxUFYTngX5pU4o4pSPPk9IdQ&inline=1&ext=1381786961&hash=ASs-3OzDFaNB_mNN

 

 

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Shivering with Iris – a new film by Chto Delat

Shivering with Iris from chto delat on Vimeo.

Talk show: Shivering with Iris
Based on a learning play which was premiered at Sommer festival at Kampnagel, Hamburg in August 2014. The play was realised in a form of talk show and filmed with 5 cameras . The final result of the performance is a videofilm.
The play is dedicated to the problem of the romantic sublime in art, which it represents using the symbol of fish. The muteness of fish and its underwater position pose a contrast to the current condition of art from which everyone expects a statement. Like the fish lives in the water as its medium, art today lives in the environment of the media, which keeps compromising it both through profanation and sublimation. The play addresses this conflict by engaging a dialectic of the artificial and the real in the contemporary artwork.

Host of the show: Iris Minich
Participants: Vedrana Madžar, Alexey Markin, Alicia Agustín, Tatiana Baskakova, Fransis Jacobi, Genja Loginova, Antje Prust, Corina Lucia Apostol
Tom Frank: Marc Siemoneit

Chto Delat on the stage: Nina Gasteva; Artyom Magun; Alexander Skidan
Directing and narration: Artyom Magun; Alexander Skidan; Tsaplya Olga Egorova and Dmitry Vilensky
Cheer leaders: Nikolay Oleynikov /Chto Delat/ and Alicia Agustín
Cameras: Andrey Nesteruk, Marlene Denningmann, Dmitry Vilensky; Katharina Duve; Karsten Wiesel
Set: Nikolay Oleynikov
Sound effect at the play: Arvild Baud
Sound mastering: Alexander Dudarev
Special thanks: Oxana Timofeeva and Gluklya Natalya Pershina and Schwabinggrad Ballett (Ted Gaier, Margarita Tsomou, Christine Schulz and Christoph Twickel); Hamburger Kunsthalle (Brigitte Kölle, Mira Forte, Petra Pirsch) and many our friends from Hamburg who consulted us and provided help and hospitality.
Maria Markina performed a poem by Maxim Gorky “The Song of the Stormy Petrel” (1901) at the happening at Hamburger Kunsthalle
Music: Revolutionary Étude by Frédéric Chopin
At the happening at Reeperbahn the fragment of the poem by Nikolay Oleynikov “Inspiration” (1932) was used.
The play and film was produced with the generous support of
Otto Runge Stiftung, Kampnagel Sommerfestival, Hamburg;
the postproduction of the film is supported by Gallery Apart, in collaboration with “Joan of Art”

Second and third part of the installation is a display with few objects specially made for performances documented in the film – the artificial fishes hang from the ceiling of the gallery and collection of hand painted aprons with a texts from the most famous Russian revolutionary poem of Maxim Gorky "The Song of the Stormy Petrel" and from the absurdist Soviet poet Nikolay Oleynikov (1932) which formed a base for the conceptual narrative of the play and whole composition of the installation.

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