A Miracle or Misunderstanding: Eight Social Practice Artists
in Conversation with Curator Ana Janevski
Co-presented by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation and CEC ArtsLink
Wednesday, July 24
from 6 to 8:30pm
“Socially engaged art in the former Soviet countries is either a miracle or a misunderstanding, for there are too many reasons why it should not exist.” – Viktor Misiano, art theorist and curator
Organized by CEC ArtsLink in collaboration with the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, this event presented eight Art Prospect Fellows from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Ukraine who discussed their work and what social practice means in their home countries. The conversation was led by Ana Janevski, Curator, Department of Media and Performance at the Museum of Modern Art. The artists, Agil Abdullayev, Diana Berg, Pasha Cas, Anastasia Kizilova, Zhazgul Madazimova, Nikita Seleznev, Nadia Valetskaia, and Artem Loskutov, were selected by CEC ArtsLink through a rigorous annual application process to visit the US and learn about socially-engaged art practices.
Update as of July 18th: Artem Loskutov’s US visa application was subjected to additional vetting because of a fabricated, politically motivated drug conviction in Russia in 2009. He did not participate in the event or the Art Prospect Fellowship study trip.
Ana Janevski is currently Curator in the Department of Media and Performance Art at The Museum of Modern Art. Most recently, she co-organized Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done (with Thomas Lax and Martha Joseph) She has collaborated with many choreographers and artists such as Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Jérôme Bel, Yvonne Rainer, Rabih Mroué, Boris Charmatz & Musée de la danse, Simone Forti, Martha Rosler, Ralph Lemon, Trajal Harrell…. She is the editor of a MoMA Dance Series book on Boris Charmatz and co-editor of Art and Theory of Post-1989 Central and Eastern Europe (with Roxana Marcoci and Ksenia Nouril). She co-edited with Cosmin Costinas a publication Is the Living Body the Last Thing Left Alive?: The New Performance Turn, Its Histories and Its Institutions.
From 2007 to 2011, she held the position of Curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Poland, where she curated, among many other projects, the large-scale exhibition As Soon As I Open My Eyes I See a Film, on the topic of Yugoslav experimental film and art from the 1960s and 1970s. She also edited a book with the same title. In 2010 she co-curated the first extensive show about experimental film in Yugoslavia, This Is All Film! Experimental Film in Yugoslavia 1951–1991, at the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana.
Art Prospect Fellows Bios
Agil Abudullayev, Baku, Azerbaijan - Born and based in Baku, Agil Abdullayev recently graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a BA in Fine Arts. Primarily working in moving image, photography and performance, his practice examines the Caucasian queer identity that has been shaped by historical, cultural and social backgrounds. Abudullayev’s recent works aim to facilitate a dialogue between queer identity and society and address such subjects as femininity and masculinity, public life and private life, politics and society, western and eastern cultural standards and bridging the spaces between these topics. He was recently selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2018 and was a recipient of "Attic Residency" by One Throsby Street in Nottingham, UK. His works have been shown in group and solo exhibitions, including: Salaam Cinema, 2019; Photographers Gallery, 2019; Liverpool Biennial, 2018; Primary Contemporary Art Space, 2017; The Wrong - New Digital Art Biennale, 2017; Tate Modern, 2016; and Yarat Pavilion at 4th Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, 2012.
Diana Berg, Mariupol, Ukraine - Born in Donetsk, Ukraine, Berg was relocated to liberated Mariupol from her hometown in 2014 due to the war conflict. In Mariupol she founded the art platform “Tu,” which promotes human rights and freedom through arts and culture. She is a curator and art-manager of numerous Ukrainian art-projects. As an artist, she uses public actionism, street theatre, installations and performance to address topics of critical thinking and human freedom, such as inequality, the border between public and private, memory and remembrance, countering stereotypes, and indifference.
Pasha Cas, Almaty, Kazakhstan - Street art artist Pasha Cas is well known for his far reaching, socialIy acute works addressing societal indifference, corruption and ecology. In his work, Cas uses minimalistic stencil presentation techniques to create street art that is a manifestation of the present reality and strives to challenge the observer to rethink the current world. Pasha Cas is one of only a few street artists, who choose not to hide their face behind a mask, but rather believe that it is important to have an open dialogue with the public. He was recently awarded the prize for “best public art work” in 2018 by the Sergey Kuryokhin Contemporary Art Awards for his work Happy New Year, Comrades in St. Petersburg.
Anastasia Kizilova, St. Petersburg Russia - A researcher, artist, and science fiction writer, Anastasya Kizilova began her artistic career in 2001 as a student at the Stieglitz St. Petersburg State Acadmey of Art and Industry. In 2013, Kizilova presented the project The Artist’s Uniform, the aim of which was to interact with participants of the professional art system. In 2015 she co-organized the horizontal initiative, Flying Cooperation, which unites multi-skilled young artists, who were born in the Post-Soviet space (Belarus, Russia, Ukraine). Since 2016, she has collected an archive of unrealized artists’ ideas entitled Found Project: authors share their ideas for free, so other people who are inneed of ideas can realize them. She currently works in the field of environmental communication, focusing on posthumanist and nonhumanist ways of interacting by bringing together theoretical approaches such as queer-ecology, cyberfeminism, bioanarchism and practical methods such as performative creation of an interspecific collective body.
Jazgul Madazimova, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan - Born in Osh, Madazimova studied International and Comparative Politics at the American University of Central Asia and currently lives in Bishkek. She worked in post-war emergency relief with Doctors without Borders and more recently has been involved in projects helping labor migrants from Central Asia in Moscow. For the last four years, the focus of her work has been the exploration of the relationship between art and society through the ArtEast group and collaborative projects with other artists in Bishkek. Madazimova’s work focuses on gender, migration and contemporary social issues in Central Asia. She is currently involved in art and activist alliances to create a public dialogue through the tools and language of art. Madazimova studied contemporary art practices at the ArtEast School and the Central Asia Cultural Managers’ Academy organized by the Goethe Institute Tashkent-Berlin.
Nikita Seleznev, St. Petersburg, Russia - Seleznev works with installations, sculpture, and objects and graduated from the St. Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design and the PRO ARTE School for Young Artists. During the past few years, he has participated in international group exhibitions, including the Special Project of the 5th Moscow Biennale of Young Art, The Parallel Programme of the 4th Ural Industral Biennale of Contemporary Art, and the 5th Art Prospect Festival. His recent solo exhibition projects in St. Petersburg include: My green crocodile, Navicula Artis; Pets, 2.04 Gallery; and My little protest, Quartariata residence.
Nadia Valetskaya, Omsk, Russia - Born and based in Omsk, Valetskaya is a member of the Nadenka Creative Association, which was established in 2014. This feminist art group of five artists currently includes Anastasia Makarenko, Maria Rybka, Maria Alexandrova, Alena Isakhanyan, all alumni of the School for Engaged Art “Chto Delat”, St. Petersburg. Nadenka creates textile objects, video art, performances and public art, holds talks and seminars, as well as feminism awareness events and recycling workshops. Valetskaya is interested in collectivity, sisterhood, art-activism, craftivism, self-education, learning and unlearning, gender studies and other artists.
CEC ArtsLink, founded in 1962, promotes international dialogue and understanding through innovative arts projects. CEC ArtsLink believes that the arts are the most deliberate and profound means of communication that can help overcome long histories of distrust, insularity and conflict, and contribute to building more open and civil societies. The core programs – ArtsLink Fellowships, Art Prospect, and Back Apartment Residency – facilitate collaboration among leading artists, arts managers, curators, and communities in the U.S. and 37 countries. Our Art Prospect Fellows program provides an opportunity for talented emerging artists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan to visit the US for a study residency.
The Art Prospect Fellows’ visit is supported by the Trust for Mutual Understanding, U.S. Embassy in Moscow, and CEC ArtsLink.