In this interview, IU art professor Andréa Stanislav talks with Anna Bitkina, independent Russian curator and co-founder of The Creative Association of Curators TOK, a curatorial collective based in St Petersburg as a platform for conducting interdisciplinary projects in the fields of contemporary art and design and social sciences. Bitkina discusses the intersection of art and politics, the challenges of creating art exhibits in the age of COVID-19 -- especially exhibits that rely on the importance of a physical presence -- and the relevance of politics and in her art exhibits. She also reveals a newfound interest in science and biology as a consequence of the pandemic, and entertains the possibilities that such an interest may inspire.
Anna Bitkina, according to an interview by the Museum of Non-Visible Art project "...sees curatorial practice as a multidisciplinary process that connects theory, science, philosophy, and politics in order to generate knowledge about the contemporary reality where art has an ability to articulate socio-political conditions and foster social changes. Her curatorial research often lay between historical analysis and the political imaginary where she combines her cultural background with current life experience. In her practice, Anna explores post-Soviet conditions in contemporary Russia and remnants of Soviet history in different social spheres like public space, local governance, educational and youth policies, media landscape. She is also interested in local and global implications caused by the accelerated capitalism in the region. More about Anna can be found at the Dutch Art Institute and at the Museum of Modern Art.
TOK’s projects have a strong social component and deal with current issues that are widely discussed both in Russia and internationally such as migration, public space and citizens, development of education, deprivation of social resources, forming collective memory, use of natural resources, growing role of the media in the global society, changing political climate and many others. TOK curators have also always been largely interested in exploring the concept of public space in post-Soviet Russia and the former Soviet Union, as well as perception, understanding and mechanisms of use of public spaces and open areas by residents of post-Soviet cities. One of the current interests of TOK is reaction of the media to global sociolopolitical processes. More about TOK can be found at http://tok-spb.org/new/en/about-tok or at on the TOK Facebook page.
Monday, June 1, 2020
Interview with Fedor Begemot Lavrov
Fedor Begemot Lavrov is a musician, composer, arranger, sound producer, and founder of Begemotion Records. Feddy talks about his recent move to Montenegro right as the COVID19 pandemic began, making music and sound tracks for Russian TV, and producing Moscow-based rock bands from his remote studio while also and getting back to his musical roots with his new personal music project Floor is Lava made during shelter in place. Learn more about Feddy at his website, https://www.feddymusic.com/about.
Talk with artist Gluklya and curator Anna Bitkina: Interview by IU professor Andréa Stanislav
IU art professor Andréa Stanislav talks with internationally renown Russian artist Gluklya (Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya) and Russian curator Anna Bitkina of TOK (see below), both currently living in The Netherlands. Gluklya and Bitkina discuss art in the age of COVID-19, how the pandemic has redefined time and relationships not only for artists but for all people, the need for art today, and how their collaborative art projects have developed and grown. Their collaboration began with the ongoing performance project, "Debates on Division: When Private becomes Public," which started in 2014 upon Russia's annexation of Crimea. They also discuss a project made up of a series of conversations about the process and act of drawing and creating. This project in particular looks at the struggle for artists to find space and time for their work and for creativity, when time is so often eaten up by other demands such as meeting a deadline, writing a proposal, etc. At their heart of their collaboration is a desire for understanding one another, for building up community, and for reflection in the way we act and think.
Gluklya is a performance artist who now lives in Amsterdam. Gluklya is a recipient of the Joseph Brodsky Memorial Fund Artist Fellowship; exhibitions include the 56th Venice Biennial. Gluklya's artwork and exhibits can be found at: http://gluklya.com or on Gluklya's Facebook page.
Anna Bitkina, along with Maria Veits, in 2010 founded TOK, a curatorial collective based in St Petersburg as a platform for conducting interdisciplinary projects in the fields of contemporary art and design and social sciences. TOK’s projects have a strong social component and deal with current issues that are widely discussed both in Russia and internationally such as migration, public space and citizens, development of education, deprivation of social resources, forming collective memory, use of natural resources, growing role of the media in the global society, changing political climate and many others. TOK curators have also always been largely interested in exploring the concept of public space in post-Soviet Russia and the former Soviet Union, as well as perception, understanding and mechanisms of use of public spaces and open areas by residents of post-Soviet cities. One of the current interests of TOK is reaction of the media to global sociolopolitical processes. More about TOK can be found at: http://tok-spb.org/new/en/about-tok or at on the TOK Facebook page.
Thursday, May 14, 2020
Anastasia Patsey of the Museum of Non-conformist Art: Interview by IU professor Andréa Stanislav
IU art professor Andréa Stanislav interviews Anastasia Patsey, Director of the Museum of Non-conformist Art and the St. Petersburg Artist Residency (SPAR) in St. Petersburg, Russia. Patsey talks about how the Museum and SPAR have been responding to a new way of life during the pandemic. As part of Pushkinskaya 10 Arts Center -- an important part of St. Petersburg's vibrant contemporary, alternative arts scene -- the Museum collects and does research on the unofficial, independent art of the Soviet Union. The Museum provides working and living space for artists, as well as gallery space. While the physical buildings housing the Museum and SPAR are currently closed, Patsey shares in this interview how cultural production has continued -- most notably in SPAR's new virtual studio for artists to continue networking and creating art during the pandemic -- and discusses how this unusual time and experience will change the art world, and what she misses about art most at this time. Andréa Stanislav is a sculptor and associate professor of art at IU's Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture and Design. SOAAD.
For more about The Museum of Nonconformist Art (Музей нонконформистского искусства): http://www.saint-petersburg.com/museums/museum-non-conformist-art/ @museumofnonconformistart
For more about The St. Petersburg Art Residency: https://virtualresidency.p-10.ru https://www.facebook.com/residencyspb @residencyspb \
Friday, May 8, 2020
Joe Crescente: Promoting media literacy and living in Moscow during the Coronavirus Pandemic
Joe Crescente reports on life and media literacy in Moscow, where he has been living off and on for the past several years. Joe discusses day-to-day life in Moscow during the COVID-19 epidemic, changes he has observed, and how we need to become especially critical consumers of media. About Joe Crescente: Joe is a writer, teacher, and media literacy specialist. He holds MA degrees from Indiana University’s Russian and East European Institute (2007), New York University’s Department of Anthropology (2010), and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst where he completed an MFA in Creative Writing-Fiction (2019). A former editor and journalist, he is currently serving as the Media Literacy Fellow at the American Center in Moscow where he holds seminars and workshops on topics ranging from confirmation bias and fact-checking to data privacy and media consumption habits. He is currently querying his first novel and is at work on his second. You can find him at https://www.joecrescente.com
Monday, May 4, 2020
Professor Sergei N. Zatravkin: Coronavirus and the History of Medical Statistics in Russia
From the point of view of historians of medicine, the coronavirus pandemic is a challenge to modern states and societies, and the liberal cultures they have created. In the very recent past, mass infectious morbidity was quite common, but today it has given rise to panic and seems has thrown global civilization back two centuries. This pandemic has revived the importance of nation-states and borders between countries. Each country around the world is experimenting in the struggle for survival, developing and implementing various administrative practices to combat the epidemic. They are accompanied by the production of a large array of texts, including health statistics and options for their interpretation.
Russia as an object of study gives medical historians some advantages. First, the vastness and specificity of Russia’s territory, including the different landscapes and climatic zones, have created and still pose various threats to the health of residents; even Russia’s location between Asian and European sources of infections (natural focal points) has made and makes the country susceptible to pandemics coming from both the east and the west. Secondly, Russia is interesting because of the nature of the political regimes that have changed over the last two centuries, and whose differing ideologies have played out differently in the lives of the population. This allows us to look at Russia like a laboratory of epidemiological experiments. In collecting statistics on the coronavirus pandemic, we consider such information as an instrument in establishing control of the epidemic, and a means to monitoring and making administrative decisions. In a long-term retrospective, studying the structure of collecting statistics, its distortion, and the ability to create zones of visibility and invisibility will allow us to establish how the statistical mechanism has influenced the management of epidemics and social fears as well as the justification of unpopular political decisions. Specifically, we are looking at two primary research questions: What mechanisms have been used to count infectious diseases when monitoring the situation of territories? And how has the use of digital indicators of infectious morbidity in local and transnational situations been carried out when making administrative decisions, as well as in information wars?
Professors Sergey Zatravkin and Elena Vishlenkova, researchers at the Center for the History of Medicine at the Higher School of Economics University in Moscow and the Department of the History of Medicine of the Semashko Public Health Research Institute have been collaborating on the development of a history of medical statistics in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, and have been widely published on this work.
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Professor Ilya Utekhin: Video Diaries from Russia
In this inaugural installment of the Covid-19/po-russki series, anthropologist Ilya Utekhin (European University) describes his "Virus Chronicle Project." He collects daily 1-minute video diaries from Russian speakers across the world during the global COVID-19 crisis. The video diaries will later be edited into a documentary film. Prof. Utekhin describes the project in the first video (in English), and the second video, below, is a compilation of sample daily video diaries from project participants (in Russian). Prof. Utekhin is happy to entertain your questions about the project--please leave questions and feedback in the "Comments" section of the first video!
About Professor Utekhin: Ilya Utekhin specializes in visual anthropology, anthropology of technology, and ethnography of communication. He is co-curator of the Virtual Museum of Soviet Everyday Life: Communal Living in Russia (Виртуальныймузейсоветскогобыта"Коммунальная квартира.")