IRI shares the Declaration by Dmitry Vilensky published on Chto Delat website with the idea to open a space of critical thinking on the complex present situation that art and cultural institutions are called to face.
“With great sadness, Daria Serenko (Feminist Anti-war resistance) and I have decided not to participate in the discussion organized by Creative Time and Vera List Center “Teach-in on Ukraine for Artists and Activists”. We want to thank Larissa Babji, Nikita Kadan, and Mykola Ridnyi for their willingness to take part in this event together with us.
After spreading information about the event on social media, Daria and I both received a lot of angry messages. The accusation was that Western experts and Russian activists would have nothing to teach about the war in Ukraine, and that especially the Russians should give their places to Ukrainian speakers in light of the current situation.
Of course, neither Daria nor I can teach anybody anything about Ukraine – just opposite, we were invited modestly to talk about the situation around anti-war protests in Russia and to show solidarity with the Ukrainian struggle. We totally respect and understand the anger of anyone who is demanding a total and undifferentiated boycott of Russian voices in any context. There are no nuances in class war, as we used to say.
Those in Russia who have resisted the local fascist regime from the very beginning and have not received anything from it except repression, we do not need to be celebrated.
It is our privilege that we never had to speak from the position of nation, force, militarization, and violent struggle. This has never been our language of resistance. We have always spoken from the position of weakness, vulnerability and care that today is shared by all protesters in Russia and Belarus, facing draconic wartime legislation We will continue our anti-war campaigns in all possible forms.
Today’s growing movement against the war and the fascist regime continues an age-old struggle in Russia against autocracy and colonialism. We are proud to belong to this tradition which the current regime is trying to silence and erase.
There is an old Polish slogan: For our freedom and yours (Za naszą i waszą wolność). It was first seen in 1831 at a patriotic demonstration in Warsaw, held to commemorate the Russian Decembrists. In partitioned Poland, it meant that a Polish victory would also mean liberty for the peoples of Russia–fellow inmates in that “prison house of the peoples.” The slogan made it clear: the Polish struggle for self-determination and nationhood was aimed not at the Russian people but at tsarist despotism. It was also a call to action. To be freed from serfdom at the arbitrary hands of oligarchs and bureaucrats, Russians would have to topple the regime that expands into other countries and colonizes them. This common history of struggle against Russian imperial autocracy has a colossal meaning to all “real” Russian culture–and not the one we are now “learning” about from Putin and his cronies.
Today, what we need most are discussions based on mutual respect and solidarity. We cannot participate in discussions where all Russians and everything Russian is considered as a culture of oppression and colonization. We respect this view of Ukrainian patriots at a time of fascist war, in light of all the regime’s atrocities. But we cannot agree. Silencing our common history and our emancipatory heritage is exactly what Putin is doing. Please do not help him.
Nevertheless, we support your fight; it is our fight as well. We still believe that this war is not Russia’s war, but that of PutinZ and his regime and we are grateful to you for this chance to formulate and advocate this position.
Glory to Ukraine, glory to the people of Belarus and Russia who resist, glory to anyone who does their best to stop the war and care about life not death!”
The internal polarization in Ukraine between pro-European nationalism and Russian nationalism, which has lasted and grown for years, does not explain the political point of the contemporary conflict. It does not explain why this conflict will go down in history for having sanctioned the end of bipolarism and the formalization of multipolarity.
Plans for this conference were first drawn up some months ago and we doubted whether to carry it on. We decided to use this platform to stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and condemn the war.
We will begin the sessions on March 9 with news from artists and cultural workers in Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora, to listen to what they want and need.
Our question: what does democracy mean in these current, bleak conditions? How do we both seek to defend the limited space to think and act that we still have and push for a new sense of living well and caring for the planet we share?
📺 online at European Cultural Foundation YT channel
Plans for the Democracy Pavilion were first drawn up some months ago. However, with the current Russian’s army invasion of Ukraine in our minds, L’Internationale association wants to use this platform to stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and condemn the military invasion that affects the lives of millions of civilians.
During the three days, we will discuss many issues of democracy, Europe, colonial legacies and contemporary empires. We will do this with Ukraine in our minds and our hearts. We share the urgency of stopping the war and we are taking the actions that are in our hands as civilians to demand an immediate end to the attacks. In addition to solidarity with those who directly suffer from Russian aggression, we also want to stand with those who resist from inside Russia and who risk their own lives and well-being to defend others. Together, we must try to use art to imagine a society that will prevent such conflicts in future, and then go on to build it. We hope our conference can contribute a little to all these urgencies.
While condemnation of the war is crucial, it is in itself only one necessary step. We also find it important to maintain the spaces for public debate and analysis of the causes of the war and the position of arts and culture when life and democratic values are under threat. In that light, we carry the pain of ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and elsewhere, as well as the histories of exploitation and erasure that still manifest themselves in the present. Our question remains what does democracy mean in these current, bleak conditions? How do we both seek to defend the limited space to think and act that we still have, and push for a new sense of living well and caring for the planet we share? We will begin the sessions on Wednesday with news from artists and cultural workers in Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora. We hope that some of them will be able to travel to Ljubljana so that we can listen to what they want and need. With this invasion, it is more clear than ever that real existing democracy is under existential threat. While it is true that European democracies are imperfect, they have allowed for governments that are to some degree responsive to open, independent elections decided by debate and argument. Today, even that version of democracy is something we need to defend, as well as to nurture the better, more equitable, more joyful versions we hope can yet emerge. Re-energizing our common futures is something to which everyone can contribute; but we believe that the arts can play its role as an initiator of imaginative epistemologies and a new ethic of living together within the limits of the planet. We want to use this opportunity to explore that belief.
Curated by Zdenka Badovinac and Charles Esche, the Democracy Pavilion for Europe aims to contribute to the rethinking and potential revival of communal forms of decision making as a vision and practice, with artists playing a key role in their conception of different and better worlds and an ethics of living together differently on this planet.
The aim of the Democracy Pavilion for Europe conference is to concentrate artistic, activist, and institutional energies. The objective is to find ways for the creative community to understand democracy and its limits, articulate its values, and propose forms through which to build a new commitment to shared control, public interest and the commons.
The Pavilion will start as an international conference in Ljubljana on 9–11 March, organized by the L’Internationale association in cooperation with ZRC SAZU. This is the first step in the Pavilion’s planned programme that will unfold through local workshops at L’Internationale confederation member locations and transform into an online pavilion at: http://www.internationaleonline.org.
The Democracy Pavilion for Europe is part of The European Pavilion – an initiative by the European Cultural Foundation that aims to support and promote artistic projects that imagine desirable and sustainable futures for Europe. The European Pavilion was initiated by the Amsterdam-based European Cultural Foundation and is developed in partnership with the Camargo Foundation, the Kultura Nova Foundation, and Fondazione CRT.
Over the course of 2021, seven arts and cultural organizations in various countries across Europe have joined this exciting new initiative: ARNA (Sweden), Brunnenpassage (Austria), INIVA (London), OGR Torino (Italy), State of Concept (Greece), Studio Rizoma (Italy) and L’Internationale (Ljubljana, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain and Poland).
More information at: theeuropeanpavilion.eu
Coordination of the Democracy Pavilion: Nika Ham, Maria Mallol
9 March, Day 1
Should we stay or should we go? Leaving or reforming liberal democracy
This day will be devoted to looking at people/groups/organizations that are questioning their experience of existing democracy and investigating an “elsewhere”, thinking about cultural efforts in communities, in cultural education, in other forms of change. Is existing liberal democracy a viable way towards emancipation, inclusion, and social justice? What is the potential relation between culture, social justice, and democracy? What cultural forms might sensibly contribute to these aims?
10:00–10:30 Welcome. Oto Luthar, Zdenka Badovinac, Charles Esche. On zoom: André Wilkens (Director of the European Cultural Foundation) and Lore Gablier (ECF program manager) presenting the European Pavilion Program and the European Culture for Solidarity Fund.
10:30–12:00 Artists and Democracy – Panel 1 Emergency action. Contributions from / for Ukraine.
Open panel. Artists and cultural workers in the Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora. including Nikita Kadan (artist and curator) and others depending on the current situation.
12:15–12:45 In conversation with Iskra Geshoska (zoom) 12:45- 14:00 Artists and Democracy – Panel 2 Gabriella Riccio – IRI Nika Autor
Moderator: Charles Esche
14:00h- 15:00 Lunch 15:00–17:00 Artists and Democracy – Panel 3 Dmitry Vilensky (zoom) Antifascist Year Eszter Szakács Moderator: Charles Esche
17:00–17:30 In conversation with Hazal Halavut (zoom) COFFEE BREAK
18:15 EVENING LECTURE Peter Klepec
10 March, Day 2
On the second day, actors are invited who are active in politics, theory and institutional organisation and who make use of culture and art in their work. They are working within and around the liberal democratic nation state and the public sector, often looking for the opportunities it affords for dissent and for taking democratic power. How to use or access the languages of art and culture to question democracy or hold the state to its stated ideals? What is the relationship between democracy and public cultural institutions and subsidies? What is needed to reshape existing liberal democracy away from its apparent capture by the conservative and revolutionary right? 10:00–11:00 Conversation (zoom): Manuel Borja-Villel and Joanna Mytkowska Towards the Museum of the Commons.
What is the use of apparently democratic public institutions today? Moderator: Zdenka Badovinac
11:00–13:00 The Use and Abuse of Existing Structures
Asta Vrečko Tomislav Medak Aleksei Borisionok
Moderator: Bojana Piškur
13:00–14:00 – Lunch
14:00- 17:30 Constituting and reconstituting: practices and repairs
15:20-15:40 Rolando Vasquez 15:40-16:10 Marcelo Expósito 16:10-16:30 Jonas Staal
16:30-17:30 Questions and open discussion
Moderator: Corina Oprea
18:15 EVENING LECTURE, Tomaž Mastnak
11 March, Day 3
Kakšna sramota! (What a shame!) The Case of Slovenia
The case of Slovenia: what is happening here and why? What is to be done about it in the cultural field? Artists, cultural workers, and activists from Slovenia are invited to discuss their role in the fight for democracy as it is currently threatened in Slovenia. The day will be dedicated to the sustainability of such resistance – to its economy, structure, networking, and archiving.
10:00 Introduction of the Historical Context Oto Luthar, historian and director ZRC SAZU (introduction by Zdenka Badovinac)
11:00–12:30 Artists and Activists – Panel I
NON-GRUPA Protestna ljudska skupščina (The Protest People’s Assembly) Aktiv delavk in delavcev v kulturi (The Culture Workers Active): Petja Grafenauer, Miha Zadnikar Vladozlom (via Zoom) 12:30-14:00 LUNCH 14:30–15:30 Artists and Activists – Panel II Miha Blažič, N’toko Tjaša Pureber COFFEE BREAK 15:30-17:30 WORKSHOPS Workshop 1: Artistic approach as basic tool of non-violent protests, Jaša Jenull (representative of The Protest People’s Assembly) The workshop will discuss the mechanisms, experiences, and practical approaches that have helped us carry out more than 90 mass protests and a large number of small artivist interventions over the past two years of struggle against the far right government in Slovenia. Through practical examples, we will present our answers to some of the key questions we have faced in our two years of constant presence on the street. Among others: How to make the invisible visible? How to effectively utilize mass media? How to maintain protest mobilization with the help of art in the long run? How to empower and connect the wider community of protesters using artistic approaches. The second part of the workshop will present a concrete protest action that will take place on the same day and offer participants the opportunity to participate in the protest itself.
Workshop 2: Culture, art, and political activism – key problems today, Miha Zadnikar (representative of the Culture workers active) This workshop will touch on crucial points of the (quite changed) activism / art / culture relationship that are critically seen from a critical perspective today.
The main topics will be:
a) older, recent, and unconscious traps of liberal / illiberal democracies
b) aggressive times of biopolitics; radical state repression and “predatory capitalism”
c) disintegrated subjects within the so-called cultural and creative sectors; cultural fetishism; defetism; recent unexpected difficulties in shaping heterogeneous political movements
d) questioning the “activism of names and family names”; personal career-making activism; grass-roots vs. NGO trends; autonomy and non-hierarchical politics
e) spontaneous inclinations towards a liberal political worldview / liberal jargon
f) opportunities and obstacles in attempts to move away from ideological struggles (with using reorganized and sharpened “national culture”) towards more productive (class) ways of struggle.
Antifascist Year (Bogna Stefanska and Jakub Depczinsky), Nika Autor, Zdenka Badovinac, Miha Blažič – N’toko, Aleksei Borisionok, Tania Bruguera, Charles Esche, Marcelo Expósito, Iskra Geshoska, Petja Grafenauer and Miha Zadnikar (representatives of The Culture workers active), Hazal Halavut, Sandi Hilal, Jaša Jenull (representative of The Protest People’s Assembly), The Protest People’s Assembly, Nikita Kadan, Peter Klepec, Oto Luthar, Tomaž Mastnak, Tomislav Medak, Joanna Mytkowska, NON-GRUPA, Corina Oprea, Tjaša Pureber, Gabriella Riccio, Jonas Staal, Eszter Szakács, Rolando Vásquez, Dmitry Vilensky, Asta Vrečko, Miha Zadnikar (representative of the Workers in Culture Task Group), Vladozlom
“There will be no return to old ‘normality’ in the near future” These are Tedros Adhamon’s words. Meanwhile, due to “old normality”, in some places disguised as “new normality”, no near futures seem to appear on our horizonts.Global illness. A yearning for accumulation that does not pay attention to those who are left out, crowded in refugee camps or in shacks surrounded by greenhouses of slave labor; those who are evicted from their homes, neighborhoods and lives; those who are forgotten in jails which negotiate with their black bodies; those who are forced to put their dignity in the queue of the food bank, of the charity of the State or the Churches, of unemployment, of the papers, or the hawthorn borders. Global resistance. A force that reinvents each time the meaning of the word freedom to undress it from the abuses it suffers on a daily basis. Which recovers the word justice by putting it into practice, day by day, in the networks of mutual support, in stopping evictions, in the demonstrations for the support of the public, of the common; in strengthening ties; in the planetary virtual proximity of the contagion of slogans, struggles and political affections. With this text we invite you to continue denouncing the unbearable injustice of normality, and to tell where it breaks and how from these cracks emerge genuine political springs ; through words, posters, sounds, images, graffiti, tweets, stones or birds.
With this campaign we invite you to continue denouncing the unbearable injustice of normality, and to tell where it breaks and how from these cracks emerge genuine political springs ; through words, posters, sounds, images, graffiti, tweets, stones or birds.
The context of the global pandemic has amplified all the inequalities that feed the capital accumulation system: gender inequalities (more violence in closed-door households, more care workload for women without schools or senior centers, more harassment on online channels…); the inequalities of border regimes; inequalities in the international division of labor, among many others. At the same time, all public goods have been eroded, as shown by the state of health systems around the world. That was and it is our normality.
Thursday 31st 20:00 – 21:30: Summer School of Slow Orientation in Zapatism, 2017. In the framework of IRI Madrid Meeting May 2018 an artists talk by Olga Egorova and Smitry Vilensky, collective Chto Delat. Filmoteca popular de la Ingobernable, 3rd floor.