19 June 2017
Presentation – Performance – Talk
Organized by Clemens Günther and Elena Vogman in collaboration with the Free University and Ruine der Künste Berlin

Beyond the war principle with Yevgenia Belorusets, Igor Gulin and Gleb Napreenko


Beyond the war principle: what is left beyond the global mass mediated war matrix that marks our discourse in East and West more powerfully than ever? Where and how are alternative practices forming new aesthetic, theoretical and political positions? 

We kindly invite you to join us at RUINE DER KÜNSTE for a special presentation by Yevgenia Belorusets, Igor Gulin and Gleb Napreenko.

We will be discussing ways out of the vicious circle of paranoia produced by war and military discourse. How can art counter the negativity of media war imagery with its own more potent negativity? How can aesthetics push the death drive beyond the war principle?

Yevgenia Belorusets: Abandoned outside the action

Roland Barthes considers photography to be a magical theatre, making it possible for death to take on the form of a repeating ritual, a habit. Perhaps not only photography, but documentary media on the whole have this ability, to transfer an exceptional event, war, into the rank of the mundane, permitting society the possibility of a permanent ritual meeting with it.

Yevgenia Belorusets is an artist and writer who lives and works in Kiev and Berlin. She is the cofounder of “Prostory” since 2008, the journal for literature, art and politics, and has been a member of the curatorial group "Hudrada" since 2009. She works with photography and video on the intersection of art, literature, journalism and social activism. She has taken part in a number of Ukrainian and international exhibitions in the context of social critique and socially engaged art.

Gleb Napreenko: Beyond the imaginary body: war as the truth of stalinism

Russian revolution of 1917 as well as radical art of the first years after revolution emerged from the experience of the First World War – but tried to re-think its mobilization and to convert it to revolutionization and de-militarization. In contrast to the productivist ideas of left Soviet artists of the 1920s, which were oriented in an economy of energy and a refusal to produce illusions, Stalinist culture may be described as a culture of excess and of an illusory imaginarium of ideals. The step-by-step mobilization and re-militarization of labor and culture since the first five-year plan found its truth in the Second World War. But this truth was sometimes subversive and even destructive for the imaginarium of socialist realism: it appeared in the form of suppressed modernist tendencies, which returned in disruptions of the established anti-modernist system of representations. And this time modernism wasn’t a modernism of homeostasis and enlightenment as it was for productivists, but a dark modernism obviously connected to the death drive described by Sigmund Freud soon after The First World War.

Gleb Napreenko is an art critic, art historian, and theorist born in Moscow, 1989. He was editor-in-chief of the online magazine Controversies, and has published his writings on websites such as openspace.ru and colta.ru, and periodicals such as Art magazine, Artchronika, and Dialog of arts among others. 

Igor Gulin: Cutting up bodies and text

A crisis creates fragmentation. A crisis – of society or of one’s image of oneself, of a the art-medium and of the whole communication, of love and of revolution. It can resolve in one’s urge for self-mutilation, for violence. Or one could say – for cutting up, assemblage. Thus violence is embodying itself in an art practise. This well-known modernist shift came to be quite pertinent in the post-protest /post-crimean Russia. It collides with the overwhelming fragmentation of the communication field and of the self-image which is created by facebook and other social networks. In my presentation I will be reading a small prose piece, called “A Little Bread”, which works as a private document of this fragmentation urge in times of political crisis. Since 2014, when it was written, the traces of the protest angriness came more or less evaporated, leaving space for inert perplexity and depression, and I will try to discuss what poetry tries to construct with the left stumps, bits and pieces.

Igor Gulin is a writer and a critic, born in Moscow 1985. He works as a a cultural observer for Kommersant-Weekend magazine, and is also an editor and co-creator of Nosorog [Rhinoceros] literary magazine. He’s a laureate of Andrei Bely Prize for literary criticism (2014). He has published in different websites and magazines such as NLO (New Literary Survey), Translit, Controversies, Seance, Colta and others.