Categories
Performance Where has Communism Gone?

Where Has Communism Gone? (Former West, 2013)

We are used to the reality principle of one-dimensional liberal propaganda, according to which, nothing can be better than the present state of things, which in fact means the neoliberal economy accompanied by the rhetoric of human rights and legal democracy. They say that communism was a utopian project, which ended in disaster, with violence and totalitarianism, and that the only thing we have left to do is to forget all hope for a better future for society and rather focus on our individual lives, to enjoy this eternal present, to use our possibilities and skills in order to succeed in working our way up a pyramid built of money, trampling the heads of others as we climb.

However, today, after decades of excessive ideological overproduction of the monstrosity of communism, a general anti-communist phobia has ended in a new disappointment. The liberal utopia, based on the notion of free individuals freely operating in a free market, was demolished by the intervention of the reality of a global economic, political, and ecological crisis. From this perspective, all the debates about communism became valuable and actual again, not only with communism as a valuable experience from the past, but also as an alternative for the future.

The only problem is nobody really takes it seriously.

Neoliberal institutions easily give their money to any kind of creative and sophisticated critic of the present, taking for granted that all these debates are based on market exchange, and that all the ideas discussed have their own nominal values. The ghost of communism still wanders around, and to transform it into a commodity form seems a good way to finally get rid of it. Conferences and artistic events dedicated to the idea of communism are going on one after another, speakers are paid or non-paid, advertisement production machines function well, and the sphere turns round as before.

But beyond this exhausting machinery of actualization and commodification, we still have as a potentiality this totally new desire of communism, the desire which cannot but be shared, since it keeps in itself a “common” of communism, a claim for togetherness, so ambiguous and problematic among the human species. This claim cannot be privatized, calculated, and capitalized since it exists not inside individuals, but between them, between us, and can be experienced in our attempts to construct this space between, to expose ourselves inside this “common” and to teach ourselves to produce it out of what we have as social beings.

We invite you to think, discuss, and live through these issues together at our seminar and try to find a form of representation for our debate.

During this seminar the platform is represented by Tsaplya Olga Egorova, Nina Gasteva, Artemy Magun, Alexey Penzin, Natalya Pershina, David Riff, Oxana Timofeeva, Alexander Skidan, and Dmitry Vilensky.

About FORMER WEST: Documents, Constellations, Prospects

FORMER WEST: Documents, Constellations, Prospects consists of artworks, talks, discussions, rehearsals, and performances in various constellations of documents and prospects that offer a multitude of encounters with the public for negotiating the way of the world from 1989 to today, and thinking beyond. The seven-day period is guided by five currents that feature contemporary negotiations on Art Production, Infrastructure, and Insurgent Cosmopolitanism, with Dissident Knowledges contributions offering dynamic interventions into the ongoing program with artworks, performances, and statements. Finally, Learning Place operates alongside the full program involving students in workshops and inviting them to engage in the week of discussions.

Conceptualized by Maria Hlavajova and Kathrin Rhomberg in collaboration with Boris Buden, Boris Groys, Ranjit Hoskote, Katrin Klingan, and Irit Rogoff. FORMER WEST: Documents, Constellations, Prospects is a joint project by Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin and BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht.

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announcements

Chto Delat? / What is to be Done?

Chto Delat publication

at Seccesion, Vienna
Posters Time line and Lexicon

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) – active till 2011, 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 2012). 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)

020_opening-kronstadt
Chto Delat? collective in Kronstadt in 2005
Standing: from the right: Oleynikov, Gluklya, Timofeeva, Shuvalov, Tsaplya, Riff, Penzin; Sitting: Magun and Vilensky

 

Categories
#6: Revolution or Resistance

Artemy Magun // Commentary on Badiou’s 15 Theses

We cannot, on this newspaper’s pages, offer you a complete, coherent introduction into the work of Alain Badiou, who is one of the most significant and original thinkers of our time. We can only clarify a few things that the “proletarian aristocrat” Badiou did not find necessary to explain.

In his first thesis, Badiou is obviously referring to the psychoanalytical interpretation of art. He agrees with Lacan that art’s main gesture is subtraction, abjection, and ellipsis. But he also opposes Lacan’s Kantian ontologism of the Infinite and Unreachable “Real” and its constructive pathos: subtraction affords the possibility for the appearance of the subject, the subject of event, truth and political action.

Categories
#2 Autonomy Zones

Artemy Magun and Dmitry Vilensky // Toward the 100th anniversary of Theodor Adorno

Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno was born in 1903. He attended the University of Frankfurt where he studied philosophy, sociology, psychology, and music. In 1931Adorno joined the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research. Escaping from Nazism, the Institute moved to Zurich in 1934, and Adorno in 1938, rejoined the Institute, which was now located in New York. In 1953, at the age of 50, Adorno left the United States and returned to Frankfurt to take up a position with the Institute In 1959 he became its director following the retirement of Max Horkheimer. In 1969 students occupy the building of the Institute and Adorno calls police to clean the office. After that incident, students, in an aggressive form, of happening, boycotted his lectures. Adorno died in 1969 in Switzerland, after being shocked by the aforementioned events, and while writing what many believe to be his most important work, Aesthetic Theory.

The main works of Adorno: “Dialectics of Enlightnenment” (with M. Horkheimer), 1947, “The philosophy of the new music” (1949), “The negative dialectic” (1966),”The Aesthetic Theory” (1970, published posthumously). Adorno, along with other participants of the so-called Frankfurt School, used Hegelian dialectics for the analysis of the political, ideological, and economic contradictions of the late capitalism. Adorno followed his friend and teacher Walter Benjamin in insisting on a special, irreconcilable form of dialectic, which does not lead to a frozen result and where the negative trumps over the positive. Unlike Hegel, Adorno developed his “negative dialectics” in the constellations of loose aphorisms, never aspiring to a system and avoiding any stabilization of his concepts.

Categories
#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.