Category: We have a situation here

ART EDUCATION IN LIMBO | Dmitry Vilensky & WHW Akademija (Zagreb) and School of Engaged Art (Saint Petersburg)

Mladen Stilinović’s text-based work Drei Tage bis zum Ende der Kunst (2002)


School of Mutation within the framework of the iteration We have a situation here. The online meeting is on Thursday July 23 at 19:00 CEST. Facilitated and composed by Dmitry Vilensky, with WHW Akademija (Zagreb) and School of Engaged Art (Saint Petersburg) 
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A dialogue between two informal art schools – WHW Akademija (Zagreb) and School of Engaged Art (Saint Petersburg) 

Art practice was always adventurous journey into unknown – to shape something which not yet exist, or it is already with us but people need some navigation to discover it. Such practices were often happening at the back ground of more or less stable world outside art. Now the background for art making is changing – the whole societies stays in limbo and no experts could predict what would happen in a next few days. 

The global pandemic has already completely transformed the situation with education from elementary schools to Universities.  The “temporary” shifting of all classes online has created a crucial dispute about the future of pedagogy and relations inside schools. What is the community of learners would mean nowadays? And how this situation has influenced the art education which was always based on personal live encounters with mentors and between students? 

Also we are faced with deep transformation of the whole idea what art could and should be. The shift of art practice into direction of reproductive work, care, therapy, healing and community building has questioned the whole convention of art making and its distribution. 

What do we teach and how do we learn during pandemic? 

How does our school survived under this condition – what have we already learned? What do we gain and lost already? 

BIOS

WHW Akademija is an independent, tuition-free interdisciplinary study program for emerging artists founded by the curatorial collective What, How and for Whom/WHW in 2018.  The name of the program, like that of the collective, includes the acronym for the three crucial questions of economic organization, What, How, & for Whom. Based in Zagreb, Croatia, the program accepts 8–12 fellows per year. Its aim is to work with the participants in Zagreb over the course of seven months on new forms of self-determination based on modes of critical reflection, curiosity, and encounters among artists, artworks, arts professionals, scholars, and practitioners in various disciplines. The program consists of a series of intensives, experimental exercises, workshops, and seminars, as well as a range of exhibitions, performances, and discursive programs that are in large part open to the public.  WHW Akademija is realized in partnership with the Kontakt Collection, Vienna. The collection focuses on experimental and neo-avant-garde art in Central, Eastern, and South-Eastern Europe from the late 1950s onwards. See more here https://akademija.whw.hr

The School of Engaged Art was initiated by Chto Delat collective in 2013 The School of Engaged art is a radical art education initiative with the goal of establishing a community of cultural workers which use art practice as a tool for transformation of society based on the values of justice and equality. The School is established and operate inside Russian social and political situation where basic democratic freedoms are under threat, in conditions that offer no support for any critical culture, and where there are no academic programs in contemporary art at all – this situation demands to develop its own tactics and method how to survive and reclaim the access to art and public sphere. The curriculum of the school is a hybrid of poetry and sociology, choreography and street activism, political economy and the sublime, art history and militant research, gender and queer experimentation with dramaturgy, the struggle for the rights of cultural workers with the “romantic” vision of art as a mission. A central component of our school is the care for collective practice.  We are convinced that a community of learners together are able to challenge the status-quo of artistic life and combine horizontal and delegation power structure. In the last 7 years we worked closely with about 140 young professionals who are now play a decisive role in the local cultural life – organizing public campaign (feminist-queer, precarious workers, conferences and exhibitions). The project is realized with the support of Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Moscow and Chto Delat Mutual Aid Fund. See more here: http://schoolengagedart.org/en/

THE PARADOXES OF GIFT ECONOMY AND HOW BASIC INCOME COULD SAVE, CHANGE, ABOLISH ART MAKING | Dmitry Vilensky & Oxana Timofeeva

Image from @Reco Steemit.com


School of Mutation within the framework of the iteration We have a situation here. The online meeting is on Thursday July 16 at 19:00 CEST. Facilitated and composed by Dmitry Vilensky, with Oxana Timofeeva.
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Today provoked by pandemic situation we hear more and more often different proposals for establishing Universal Basic Income (UBI). The UBI is often presented as the only measure which could save human life in front of growing precarity and forthcoming competitions with AI and robots. 

As correctly and precisely mentioned by previous panel of IRI:

it is a necessary condition in order to rethink our extractivist ecological model, to correct many race and gender asymmetries and, last but not least, to change the art world’s present neoliberal structure. UBI must be seen as a tool to open up new subjective spaces, alternative to the dominating entrepreneurial individualism and focused instead on commons and care. 

At the moment looks like that some affluent societies could come closer to implement this measures not at universal/global level but at their national proximity – regulated by local governments and national agencies. 

If we look back, we could discover that something similar to BI was already existed – in the West it was called welfare system, in the socialist countries it was a system of all-embracing social support and exchange of basic work/services for basic wage covering basic housing, basic food and basic health care. 

I think that we should analyses what is basic? 

Within welfare state it was pretty clear that bureaucracy has an expert power to calculate how many calories one should consumer a day, how often one need to new underwear, how many sq. meters should be sufficient for one person, what kind of medical services should stay accessible and at which quality level. So, it did not differ much from the situation when one speaks about regulation of prison’ population or orphanages. 

In general we are demanding the return to some bio-political regulations which right now sounds like a golden age of humanity which was later kind of annihilated by the assault of neo-liberalism. 

But we definitely not returning – we reconsider this radical survival strategy in completely new political situation. And we should stay sensitive to this new challenges. 

To recognize them more precisely we suggest to reconsider the BI through the concept of the gift. Right now young generation do not remember that the topic of the gift economy was the most fashionable in artistic and intellectual discourse during the nineties. Jean Baudrillard (after Marcel Mauss and Georges Bataille and some other anthropologists) in his work differentiate between the symbolic realm and the realm of signs and signification. According to his ideas “signs can be exchanged like commodities; symbols, on the other hand, operate quite differently: they are exchanged, like gifts, sometimes violently as a form of potlatch”. And he warns us that contemporary society more and more often converting this “symbolic” element into commodified signs. This we could watch very clearly in the tendencies of art world. 

Anthropologist Marcel Mauss studied the notion of the gift, particularly the notion of the “hau” – the invisible energy emanating from social relations which keeps valuable objects in circulation – to imagine a socialist state or rather commons, based on non-commodified and generalized reciprocity permeating all social relations. 

According to Georges Bataille, there are two types of economies: the general and the restricted one. Restricted economies are human activities subordinated to the production, accumulation, and growth of individuals, households, states, etc. The general, or planetary economy is the one of the non-productive expenditure. In nature, it is presented by the sun which gives light and warmth to all living beings without ever receiving anything back. In case of humanity, the general economy becomes the gift economy. How does the gift economy relate to the contemporary condition of total capitalist alienation of labor, and especially artistic labor? What is the connection between labor as our essential activity, and the gift?

So we would like to suggest to look deeper what the idea of gift means nowadays and see if we could re-approach the BI – as a new form of unconditional gift system. And as we know that any gift is a manifestation of sovereign power it imposes a certain rules of exchange – putting someone into position of debt. Gifts are not innocent and to operate inside gift economy one need to acquire a special knowledge and type of behavior – then we could reclaim a gift – basic income not as a basic compensation to temporary save our life (and as a general recognitions of our humanness) but as a precondition for plenitude of living in commons. 

So we would suggest the basic questions in relation of the transformation of art system in connection with possibility of establish BI 

1) If artists receive BI (in its minimal or utopian version) as a kind of a “gift” should they consider their artistic manifestation as a gift to society and do not demand additional remuneration? How do we combine BI and new market regulations which keeps competition afloat? 

2) With implementation of BI the old dream which haunting art world might come true: everyone becomes an artist and do not need a special institutional recognition. Would BI diminish a professional approach to art and undermine the difference between professional and amateurish approach? 

3) Would artist with BI need art system at all or they manage to establish their own system of the distribution of artistic practice – making it more local, more social and convivial?   

4) The implementation of BI could be hardly imagined practically at global scale. Like industrial revolutions it could start from the most affluent countries and then (hopefully) spread around globe. How could we soften the growing inequalities between the artists with BI and those who do not have any support? What kind of international structures of redistribution we might need? 

5) If we consider BI not just as a gift, but more as a dole could it be particular “poisoned” for the artists which system put in the position of returning gift in a form of “welcomed” withdrawing from work and from any additional responsibility of the cultural institutions?

BIO

Oxana Timofeeva is a Professor of the Centre for Practical Philosophy “Stasis” at the European University at St. Petersburg, leading researcher at Tyumen State University, member of the artistic collective “Chto Delat?” (“What is to be done?”), deputy editor of the journal “Stasis”, and the author of books History of Animals (Maastricht: Jan van Eyck, 2012; Moscow, 2017; London: Bloomsbury, 2018), and Introduction to the Erotic Philosophy of Georges Bataille (Moscow: New Literary Observer, 2009). She is also author of numerous contributions to e-flux journal and other art magazines.

Recommended readings:

The Case Against a Basic Income by DANIEL ZAMORA

David Graeber on basic income 

Can a Universal Basic Income rid the world of bullshit jobs?

THE ART CARE AND CARE ABOUT ART | Dmitry Vilensky & Janna Graham

Photo Catastrophes, performance at MUAC by Chto Delat


School of Mutation within the framework of the iteration We have a situation here. The online meeting is on Thursday July 9th at 19:00 CEST. Facilitated and composed by Dmitry Vilensky, with Janna Graham.
register here [registration open until Wednesday July 8th at 12:00 CEST]

The questions for the assembly:

  1. The practices of care do not need a critical apparatus. Aiming for good and wellbeing – they themselves become an unconditional good. Can we care critically, or can we criticize with care?
  2. How can we formulate the good of art and how will it differ from the immediate humanitarian benefit of caring for life in general – the reproductive labor?
  3. How to build relationships of equality in a situation of care?
  4. Your favorite art projects, which is based on the practices of care?
  5. Many art institutions in their recent statements speak about their priority of caring for artists in their programs. What manifestations of institutional care do we need to continue our work in art?
  6. Practices of caring can be considered as part of the practices of the participatory and community based art with their old dilemma – to do “for” or to do “with/together.” Is it possible to combine these positions?
Continue reading “THE ART CARE AND CARE ABOUT ART | Dmitry Vilensky & Janna Graham”

THE TRANSFORMATION OF MONUMENTALITY THE RISE AND FALLS AND THE DANCE OF MONUMENTS | Dmitry Vilensky & Alexandra Pirici

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. 

Continue reading “THE TRANSFORMATION OF MONUMENTALITY THE RISE AND FALLS AND THE DANCE OF MONUMENTS | Dmitry Vilensky & Alexandra Pirici”