School of Engaged Art Poor Dialectics, Festival of the School of Engaged Art, Rosa House of Culture #2016

Festival “Poor Dialectics”

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.”


see documentation of the festival here
Shivering with Iris /2013/ Shivering with Iris #2014

Shivering with Iris

a videofilm based on the performance at Kampnagel, Hamburg and installation

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.



Chto Delat / Kortrijk Congé: All Our Futures… /// Documentation

what is that?

It is a public manifestation with rituals, initiated by the yearly event Kortrijk Conge and conceptualized by Chto Delat collective together with people and local communities of Kortrijk. The event takes place on 11th of July 2015, The Day of the Flemish Community of Belgium, celebrated every year in remembrance of the Battle of Golden Spurs or Guldensporenslag that took place in Kortrijk in 1302. All our futures opposes the nationalistic connotations of that holiday and pleads for an open society based on egalitarian solidarity that is aiming for a common future. All our futures will take the form of a street parade and will be launching the Time Capsule.


We live in the moment when the collapse of visions of a better world is omnipresent. And our usual imaginations about future tells more about catastrophes, ecological disasters, growth of inequality, and direct threat of barbarism. In this particular moment we need to reclaim a certain dialectical and utopian platform which gives us some hope and unleashes our ability to think and imagine things which do not exist – like true equality, solidarity, inhabiting other planets, the existence of harmonious mutants, resurrection of the dead, pure healthy environment for everyone and many other things that humanity always dreamed of.


We are organizing a theatrical street parade which proceeds through the city, arranged around 6 movable platforms –
1) The Time Capsule platform which carries the Tree, the Soil and the Capsule in a form of giant heart which will be filled with all possible wishes collected from the people of the city. The tree will be planted inside the heart during a special ritual.
2) The minivan Red Dawn. Wandering futuristic lab will join the procession after having functioned as a mobile workshop throughout the city. It symbolizes the idea that future very much depends on colonizing outer space and de-colonizing earth.
3) The Danko platform is based on the fusion of two stories – the story of one symbol of Soviet time – the famous monument ‘The Peasant and the Worker” realized by Varvara Mukhina after the ancient example of the sculpture “Harmodius and Aristogeiton”, dedicated to the two men lovers whose act of daring in 514 BC opened the way for Athenian democracy. It also refers to the famous Russian visionary fairy-tale “The Flaming heart of Danko” by Maxim Gorky. It’s a fascinating story about one man who sacrifices his life by wresting his heart, and the heart lamped the people the way out of darkness.
4) The Beast – a collective sound platform – is a machine on wheels which allow people to create a variety of sounds that are unimaginable on normal music instruments, nor by human voices.
5) The Communist Arch is a palanquin in the form of Green House, modeling the life in the paradise.
6) The Black Cube – is another palanquin, referring to Malevitch’ painting “Black Square” and also to the mysterious Ka-aba building in Mecca. In our theatrical narration it stays for the loss and attainment of the future.
All platforms will be celebrated with the speeches and performances at 4 stations during the procession: The station of Hope, the Station of Futurism, the Station of Overcoming the Insuperable Obstacles, and the Station of the Lost Future
The event will end up in an Iftar, (the moslim’s moment to start eating during Ramadan) where all communities are invited to share food, thoughts and visions on a common future.

So we say:
OXI/no to the present
YES to the future

The parade starts at 19:00 at Budabrug (Diksmuidekaai / Overleiestraat)

Projects Face to Face with Monument #2014

Face to Face with Monument

The Newspaper “What is monumental today?” was published on the occasion fo the Chto Delat project in Vienna at Schwarzenberg Platz (May-June 2014)

Face to Face with Monument – the documentation of the project

User manual to teh square:
1. Study The Paper Soldier
2. Wake your inner Paper Soldier up
3. Visit history (in red container)
4. Take an audio tour
6. Evoke your ideological traumas
6. Ascend the tower through the forum
7. Use telescope to face the face of the Unknown Soldier.
8. Run down (carefully)
9. Engage with the mural
10. Visit library /white container/– study display “Transformation of monumentality”
pick up your own copy of project newspaper there

11. Free time (suggestions): seat at the forum discuss your experience with strangers, take a book and seat at the café, read the newspaper, listen to the radio, text friends to come….


The display – Transformation of monumentality


First set of documentation of the display at Seccesion, Vienna

The description of the exhibition here

and here is the newspaper publication which we published:


Anti-anticommunism, a play in space – project at Tranzit Display, Prague

Chto Delat

Dmitry Vilensky

Tsaplya Olga Egorova, Nikolay Oleynikov,
Dmitry Vilensky, Gluklya Natalya Pershina

Martina Malinová
(song Who thus spoke of solitude? –
the fragment from a text by ALAIN BADIOU “Of an Obscure Disaster”)

The play consists of 5 elements

1. The film program (run in loop) compiled of two films which directly confront the history of the communist ideas and its realization: The Partisan Songspiel: A Belgrade Story (2009) and The Baden-Baden Lessons of Dis-consent (2011) (Both directed by Tsaplya Olga Egorova). Both films are staged reconstructions of situations in which the ghost from the past appears completely out-of joint and at a wrong moment and place.

2. Installation Anti-anticommunism specially created for the space of Transit display and which will be a poetic metaphor on the topic (realized by Nikolay Oleynikov and Dmitry Vilensky).

3. The recording of a fragment of the Alen Badiou article “Of an Obscure Disaster. On the End of the Truth of State” which will be a sound track in the installation and played by Martina Malinová.

4. The newspaper publication where we publish a few texts reflecting the current state of the discussion on the idea of communism.

5. Open discussions on the topic of the show.

the publication with the concept of the show and related texts: 


New installation of Chto Delat “Nevrossiya (Notinrussia)” at Moscow Fabrika, February 2014

A project by the group Chto Delat

With the participation of the School for Engaged Art

Supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation

Organizer: FABRIKA Center for Creative Industries
February 1 – March 8 2014

“Where do you live? Not in Russia? Why are you asking me these questions?”
Yakov Krotov

Any government and any state is primarily an apparatus of violence (of one class over another), so at least says a famous definition. And society itself? It too is saturated with violence: moral condemnation and exclusion, affirmation of norms, control over corporeality, religious taboo etc. The role of violence varies from society to society, and here, Russia takes a place of its own, a space steeped in various forms of aggression and checkered with spaces of exclusion, where the violence of repressive, punitive shocks is cultivated by both power and the population at large and has a nearly ritual character. Russia sports a highly profitable market of “violent actions,” which acts as an important if not key factor in the local economy: the courts and the police, the prisons and the corporations, migrant labor and cultural production, all of these spheres are based on the consequences of violent raids, each of which comes with a price tag of its own.


Art Projects

Most issues of the newspaper Chto Delat? have either sparked artistic collaborations, or provide commentary on art projects carried out by members of the workgroup.

Since 2003, this has led to an ongoing collaboration between Nikolai Oleynikov, Tsaplya, Dmitry Vilensky, Gluklya, as well as other artists from both Russia and abroad, so that Chto delat has become a creative platform where collaborations are not just hypothesized in editorial or curatorial practice, but become a matter of artistic reflection in works that are genuinely collaborative. At the same time, all of these artistic efforts attempt to reconnect to the discursivity of the newspaper, which often functions as a supplement or intervention in the artistic venues.

Chto Delat’s exhibitions are always space and case specific. They create total installations combining of films, murals, graphic, objects and architectural elements. This artists consider that institutional spaces should be transferred into public space dedicated to education and discussion. The idea behind the construction of such spaces was influenced by the soviet concept of workers’ clubs and houses of culture, that the artists reconsidered for new contexts of art institutions and publics (See here on the concept of the activist club)

This section will be expanding constantly with extensive material documenting the artistic work of Chto delat. For now, it consist of comprehensive image material and project descriptions, as well as “Texts” for their contextualization.

Stay tuned for updates!


Documentation of Exhibition Projects (2010-present)

Documentation of installations (2010-present) 


You Don’t Have to Be Leftist to Think Like That. An Exhibition as a School, GEZ 21, St Petersburg 2012


Film and the exhibition: The Lesson on Dis-Consent, Stadliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, 2012


Documentation of the project Perestroika. Twenty Years after: 2011-1991; Cologne Kunstverein, Germany, 2011


Documentation of the project “What is to be done? Between tragedy and farce,” SMART project space Amsterdam, 2011


What is to be done? … The Urgent Need to Struggle, ICA, London, 2010


The experiences of Perestroika, U-turn, Copenhagen, 2008


Activist Club, 2007-2009


Self-Education, NCCA, Moscow, 2006


Angry Sandwichpeople, 2005


Drift. Narvskaya Zastava, 2004-2005, Museum of the city St Petersburg and NCCA, Moscow, 2005


Builders, Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany, 2005


Displays and seminars, 2004-2008


Wall Newspapers, 2006-2007


The Negation of Negation, 2003-on going




Iskra – Chto delat?, graphic installation by Dmitry Vilensky


Documentation of Installations (2010-present)

Documentation of the set for the Creative Time Summit in Venice and New York

see here:

On the sources and currents of Chto Delat collective
The documentation of solo exhibition at the gallery Luda, Petersburg
see here:

Chto Delat. At the moment of danger.
Dossier watch here:
Dossier of the show at Gävle Konstcentrum

Chto Delat – Time Capsule. Artistic report on catastrophes and utopia.
The description of the exhibition here

Installation view of the reading room “Study, Study and Act again” at The exhibition “Really Useful Knowledge” | Reina Sophia Museum, Madrid
new version with shelves sculptures (realized by Alena Petite) and Educational Flags (realized by Nikolay Oleynikov)


Documentation of Chto Delat installation “Study, Study and act again” (new version) installation at Tate Liverpool at the show “Art turning Left”

dates: 08.11.2013 – 02.02.2014


Documentation of Chto Delat exhibition at BWA Wroclaw „To negate negation”, dates: 29.04 -16.06.2013

Vladan Jeremic & Chto Delat installation of Partisan Songspiel Monuments at the exhibition Moving forward, Counting Backwards,  at Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico, February – May 2012