Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images – source online new CNN Channel 3000
We open the first appointment of the School of Mutation with the iteration We have a situation here. The online meeting on Thursday July 2nd at 19:00 CET is facilitated and composed by Dmitry Vilensky with choreographer Alexandra Pirici.
register here [registration open until Wednesday July 1st at 12:00 CEST]
Today all of sudden we happen to live in the moment when the burden of historical injustice become unbearable. These situations usually pop up at the moment of revolution or popular uprising and it demonstrates how the system of power is constructed and still rooted in the old system of oppression. The culture and art always have always been pleading a leading role in forming a historical block and , establishing a certain image of power which could inspire, scare and glorify certain dominant narratives.
Now from Ukraine to Bristol, from US to Latin America the dark history of capital accumulation (real and symbolic) is being revisited – and we remember well that there are no any documents of democratic the progress which are not also documents of violence. The monuments start to fall again and empty places in the cities are filled with temporary manifestation of the popular uprising. This destruction of the monuments could be considered as collective healing, the a gesture of outrage and emptying the of space for new celebrations.
Should these temporary memorials be preserved for the future under the supervision of the old power which did not disappear? Or should they be replaced with by more solid memorials celebrating the current struggles and creating a counter-narrative re-codifying the dirty memories from the past?
Do the current popular movements need any forms of monumentality? Or is their power is manifesting through the series of tactical and often spectacular acts of destruction, occupation, temporary altars, wheat pasting etc.?
“Monumentality as aesthetic category is traditionally determined as a quality of the sublime. Its content is socially relevant and expressed as a large sculptural form imbued with heroic and epic themes that affirms positive ideal” (The Great Soviet Encyclopedia)
To paraphrase this statement one could say that nothing could be more sublime as people struggle for liberation and what could we/ or should we reclaim as a new forms of monumentality?
Ruth Noack in her recent FB post has shared rather popular position: “The sculptures should remain as a mark of the violence society once was happy to condone, but, of course, they cannot remain without the strongest gestures of resistance, protest, dissent. I would opt for adding counter-memorials and make them be powerful!”
Do we share this position? Should artists be involved into this practice, as long as they are part of the movement?
The artists still have access to funding and commissions for the new public project, like the recent open call to monument commemorating victims of slavery in Paris. Or like widely demanded call for new historical public commissions compared to New Deal time.
For example: in the current situation – the French ministry of culture does not wait till people occupy the space in front of Louvre and make their own monument – instead they say that “the work of art must be harmoniously integrated into the garden and take into account site constraints.” – this approach demonstrates of certain forms of normalization of the rituals of commemoration and monumentality.
How could artists counter this approach, or produce art pieces inside this commissions which generate a popular support? Do we need artists at all at the time when occupations of public space often function as most powerful visual manifestation of our time – total installation with on-going performances, altars to the victims of the struggles, educational circles and political assemblies?
Some reference materials to the works of Alexandra Pirici
These articles on Co-natural mentioning the references to US monuments that were used in the work in more subtle ways
Alexandra Pirici is a Romanian artist with a background in dance and choreography who works undisciplined, across different mediums. Her works have been exhibited within the decennial art exhibition Skulptur Projekte Munster 2017, the Venice Biennale – Romanian Pavilion at the 55th edition, Tate Modern London, New Museum – New York, Art Basel Messeplatz, The 9th Berlin Biennale, Manifesta 10, Centre Pompidou – Paris, Museum Ludwig Cologne, the Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, Russian Museum St. Petersburg, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, HAU Theatre Berlin, Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, Chicago Architecture Biennale, among many others. Alexandra Pirici works in museum contexts, theatrical frameworks and the public space. She choreographs ongoing actions, performative monuments and performative environments that fuse dance, sculpture, spoken word and music. Her works deal with monumentality or the history of specific places and institutions in order to playfully tackle and transform existing hierarchies. They also reflect on the history and function of gestures in art and popular culture or on questions about the body, its presence, absence or image and the politics of capture. Her performative artworks are part of private and public collections as live actions.
Dmitry Vilensky is an artist, educator and cultural environmentalist with no art degrees. He elicits situations and relationships. No one knows what he is up to right now: perhaps he is editing a new issue of Chto Delat’s newspaper, or maybe administering the Chto Delat Mutual Aid Fund, or editing a film, or talking with the participants of the School of Engaged Art, or making a set for a new play, or sitting in the assembly at Rosa’s House of Culture editing presentation for another conference. Most likely, he is doing all this and dozens of other activities at the same time, surrounded by various comradely compositions of bodies and minds in his hometown of Saint Petersburg, at Zoom and in many other places around the world. Born in Leningrad in 1964. He lives in Saint Petersburg.