Rough Seminar #2

Rough Seminar #2: Everyone is an artist. Folk art: a radical reading

Thursday, January 11, 2018 / 7:00pm

Presentation by Ekaterina Sharova and moderated by Brandon LaBelle

Kunsthall 3,14, Vaagsallmenningen 12, 5014 Bergen


Seminar #2 is led by Ekaterina Sharova (art historian, curator, producer, educator) who will present her current research devoted to folk culture in the Northern Russia, seen in the light of L. Vygotsky, J. Beuys, P. Bourdieu and P. Freire.

Ekaterina Sharova, Everyone is an artist. Folk art: a radical reading

Territory of contemporary Euro-Arctic Russia seems to be the most exciting and undiscovered region in the country. The territory of the North has been the most remote region in Russia, where the ancient epos of Kievan Rus and Novgorod republic have been preserved for several centuries, such as bylina, skomoroshina, plach, and the whole number of pagan and Christian rituals connected to the year circle and life of the Northern peasant. During the rapid industrialization in the North in 1930s, local culture started to be gradually replaced by Soviet propaganda, when ancient folklore bylinas (live documentation of the oral history of Russia) were replaced by novinas (epos about political leaders of the new state), and where Christian architecture in the North has been destroyed by supporters of the new ideology. Oral history, visual culture, wooden architecture of the North is just awaiting its digitalization, research and international attention, as its fate during USSR can be a lesson how non-sustainable innovations can lead to destruction of own heritage, but also to the beauty of the ancient texts, images and ways of life.

Since 1990s, after the heavy collapse of USSR, there are many challenges with identity and local heritage, with global popular culture taking over the existing markets, and where the old-fashioned management approach does not seem to give results anymore. New, sustainable methods seem urgent and necessary.

What can a producer and curator do in this complicated context, where culture is still run under plan economy principles, where participatory budgets, scholarships and state funding competitions just start to appear? How to make an expression which will have an applied value for the local audience? How to put the audience in the very center of production and to develop effective mechanisms of knowledge exchange between local and international experts? How the processes of re-discovery of the heritage can empower local people? What is folk art and folk culture today? Who is actually the artist, in the very end?

Ekaterina Sharova

Curator and producer working with interdisciplinary experiments, ecology of culture in the Post-Soviet context, education, aesthetics of everyday life, models of alternative economy and decentralization. Guest lecturer at Northern (Arctic) State University. Has written for, Klassekampen, Nytid, Billedkunst. Since 2012, Ekaterina has been involved on developing contemporary art scene and creative industries in Euro-Arctic region of Russia, support of young artists and producers, education and promotion of innovation and creative thinking. In 2014, she created Arctic Art Institute together with other artists and sociologists. Arctic Art Institute is an independent group of producers, who have collaborated with Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (Moscow), Collectio del Museo Ruso (Malaga), Kunsthall Stavanger, and a number of other institutions, however so far it has still remained a grassroot group.


Room for Improved Futures

The Imaginary Republic acts as a contributing partner to Room for Improved Futures, a two year exhibition program based in Aarhus. The project is initiated by rum46 – curated and organized by curator Agnieszka Wolodzko and visual artist Grete Aagaard in collaboration with the art projects and platforms Trade Test Site, Sigrids Stue, Imaginary Republic and CCS Centre for Contemporary Art Kiev. In Room for Improved Futures we invite a diverse group of practitioners, artists, writers and theorists who will address issues on democracy, urbanity, participation, community and hidden economies. The project is organized in 4 public programs each divided in 3 sessions which will include artists’ talks and presentations, exhibitions, lectures, texts and workshops.

Exhibition, Bergen

Hélène Frichot
Luis Guerra
Marianne Heier
Georgia Kotretsos
Brandon LaBelle
Marysia Lewandowska
Sala-manca group
Lise Skou

Tag Team Studios, Bergen

September 9, 2016 – 19:00h
(Kotretsos, Guerra, Heier, LaBelle)
September 22, 2016 – 19:00h
(Frichot, Lewandowska, Sala-manca group, Skou)
September 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25
October 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16
12:00 – 17:00h

In conjunction with the Partisan Café event program, The Bergen Assembly:
Marianne Heier / September 8th – 17:00h
Marysia Lewandowska, Lise Skou / September 23rd – 17:00h
Diego Rotman, Brandon LaBelle / September 24th – 17:00h

The Imaginary Republic looks at questions of public life and civic culture in today’s global environment, and considers how ongoing economic, social and political unrest has led to an intensification of grass-roots initiatives, artistic activism, alternative instituting and forms of commoning.

As a network of related participants, the project develops through shared methods and modes of experimental pedagogy, critical togetherness, public and creative instituting, and looks to identify through their expressions possibilities for political imagining. The political imagination is posited as a tool for problematizing and negotiating contemporary crises, enabling an understanding of public assembly as being founded upon intensely creative and psychic labors that equally contain secret desires, generative noises, breaks in identity and community, and assemblages of deviant knowledge.

In his book, Disagreement, Jacques Rancière identifies two sides to the governmental, what he calls “the political” and “the police”. As he states, often what we imagine as “the political” is only a mode of policing. Such a dichotomous view, while providing an important perspective, may overlook the more nuanced, in-between articulations found in grass-roots movements, civic cultures, radical dreaming, unlikely friendships and acts of (non)work, the daily rituals and encounters between neighbors and strangers, as well as the deep poetics of relating to what is not yet, through which agency and collective actions find their future footing.

The exhibition at Tag Team Studios, divided into two editions, brings together works, propositions, and documents that consider relations between individual determination and social and institutional structures. Questions of art and economy, biopolitics and vacancy, transience, piracy and infrastructures of the poor are brought forward as critical and creative arenas of struggle.

The exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Partisan Café, and includes three evening events with participating artists.

See more info:

Organized with support from the Bergen Academy of Art and Design.

Communiqué #0

The sun has gone down!
 The night is upon us!
 The time of drunkeness and fantasy, the time of wolves and of dreamers!
 The hour of the encounter!

Shall we play dead? 
Shall we run?
 Shall we find the exit?
 Shall we continue to dream?

To the Imaginaries – of the foreclosed and the hopeful, the dreamy-eyed and the tenacious – we gather here alongside the mountains and the sea, to make a claim onto the future horizon of a possible resistance. A possible construction.

To vote for each other.

Shall we honor the fallen? Shall we storm the gates? Shall we capture the flag? Shall we wait?

Pause Hesitate Occupy

Gather Exchange Plot and Plan

Shall we scratch the surface, or dig deep?
 Shall we create another territory?

Shall we hold hands? To carry the weight… Together

Shall we turn the other way? Shall we strike? 
Shall we refuse to pay the rent? Shall we build an underground culture, secret?

To the Imaginaries – of the enstated and the stateless, the papered and the paperless – let us announce with trembling heart the making of spaces of hope.