#1 What is to be done?

Artemy Magun, Evgenij Maisel and Alexander Skidan // Manifesto 003

In the streets of Saint-Petersburg, one has always to watch one’s step, so as not to fall into this or that pit. But sometimes we raise our eyes and look up one’s leaky roof onto the large Petersburg sky. The sky gets closer.

Today, just before the pompous festivities of the 300th anniversary of Saint-Petersburg, it is about time to think about the future of our city. Its official cultural politics is the suffocating conservatism. Its main focus is all sorts of restauration work; the opening of memorial desks, and speculation on the”great history and cultural traditions”. Since 1991, that is since the city got its old name back, no single new building was build that could compete with the masterpieces of the modern architecture, and what is built is nothing but the cowardly imitation. No single influential journal or newspaper in these 10 years. The situation in the visual arts is somewhat better, thanks to some private initiatives and to the Western funding.

#1 What is to be done?

Alexey Levchuk, Alexander Romanchuk and Andrey Juukin // The New Foundation of St. Petersburg – The Manifesto of the Architects

In this manifesto, three Petersburg architects explore the architectural alternatives to representing an increasingly affluent market economy. This text should be read in the context of the speedy renovations made in Petersburg on occassion of the 300th anniversary celebrations.

– The alternative to consumer society is the  refusal to take part in its games of the infinite purchase/change of  commodities.
– Every product of postindustrial system has poor quality, and could not have a better one, because in this system the amount of updates has killed the quality.
– Speed of the cycles – a product’s cycles of change – is caused by its poor quality and is in direct ratio to deterioration; the consumer is obliged to replace a trendy product before it falls apart in his/her hands. Each new cycle is a sort of a crime made with an aim to conceal the previous ones.

– How should we name the condition of a person who is not included in the senseless race behind the pseudo-updated product? Proceeding from today’s system of values and hierarchies is  POVERTY.
– The condition, that we name poverty is a social pace.
– It is not necessary to change society, it is necessary to leave it. What kind of exodus is it important to choose? An individual or a group one? We believe, that the group one is more effective. The number of members in a group is directly proportional to its efficiency. Local communities are doomed to gradual degradation and, finally, to defeat. The mass exodus means a destruction of existing society (an exodus as the base of its dismantling). This is the target of our aspiration, because it is unique now: the reasonable and responsible public action.

#1 What is to be done?

Felix Guattari // Remaking Social Practices

A few weeks before his sudden death on August 29, 1992, Felix Guattari sent to Le Monde Diplomatique the following text. Counting on additional weight conferred upon it by its author’s tragic disappearance, this ambitious and all-encompassing series of reflection takes on, in some sense, the character of a philosophical will or testament.

Translated by Sophie Thomas


How could we reconnect the head to the body, how could we join science and technology with human values? How could we agree upon common projects while respecting the singularity of individual positions? By what means, in the current climate of passivity, could we unleash a mass awakening, a new renaissance? Will fear of catastrophe be sufficient provocation?

Emphasis must be placed, above all, on the reconstruction of a collective dialogue capable of producing innovative practices. Without a change in mentalities, without entry into a post-media era, there can be no enduring hold over the environment….

The world market does not have to lead the production of each group of people in the name of a notion of universal growth. Capitalist growth remains purely quantitative, while a complex development would essentially concern the qualitative. It is neither the preeminence of the State (in the manner of bureaucratic socialism), nor that of the world market (under the aegis of neo- liberal ideologies), that must dictate the future of human activities and their essential objectives. It is thus necessary to establish a planetary dialogue and to promote a new ethic of difference that substitutes for current capitalist powers a politics based on the desires of peoples.

#1 What is to be done?

Antonio Negri, Danilo Zolo // Empire and the multitude. A dialogue on the new order of globalisation

“With Empire, Michael Hardt and I wanted in no way to reach conclusions: the process constituting Empire is still largely open. We were interested in underlining the need to change register: the political philosophy of modernity (and obviously the institutions with which it interacted) is over. The theory that goes from Marsilio to Hobbes and from Althusius to Schmitt is finished. Empire is a new theoretical threshold”

A synoptic translation of this text was published in Russian. For a complete version of the text, visit:

#1 What is to be done?

The ESCAPE Program // Against the Wind

The pretext for the creation of the project “Where the wind blows” was the actual situation where we found ourselves during the preparation of the festival “Art-Kliazma 2003” – all our lyrical projects were rejected with a request to make “something more spectacular”. First, we wanted to refuse participating at all, but then realized that this situation was symptomatic, and decided to make a special critical project dedicated to the present condition of the artist who has to serve the Big Client and his capital. Surprisingly, the project was accepted.

Project description
The project “Where the wind blows” criticizes the situation where art has to sell itself. It presents a real striptease  performed by a professional at the festival “Art-Kliazma”. The post that is used by the performer serves at the same time as a windvane showing the direction of wind. The striptease performance takes place at the special floor where a portrait of the president Cleveland (taken from the largest and rarest bill of thousand dollars) is drawn.

What is to be done?
We, the program “Escape”, are the windvane that provides a diagnosis and a reflection of a situation, being necessarily a part of it. As J.Baudrillard notes in his book “The Seduction”, “any movement that believes in the possibility of subverting the system through its basis, is naive”. We would add: naive or… hypocrite? Because the critique of the system is one of the most successful strategies to obtain a place within it. This ambivalence is probably the main problem of the new avant-garde art. How not to lose the capacity of self-criticism? Are compromises possible? These are the questions to which the general question “What is to be done?” leads today.