ZERO GRAVITY REVOLT
Nikolay Oleynikov (Chto Delat and more)
in collaboration with Belgium-based artists and dancers
a learning mural curated by Elena Sorokina
Invited guests: choreographer ULA SICKLE, artists Rossella Biscotti, Adela Jusic and Lana Cmajcanin, philosopher Oxana Timofeeva, film-programme curator Ils Huygens and more (TBA)
In early Soviet science fiction, revolutions happened all over the Solar system - on Mars, on the moon, and of course on Earth. Full of vivid social imagination, its authors described cosmic class struggles and social upheavals booming in space - forceful and impetuous. The labor of revolution was, however, supposed to as the building blocks to create the new future conditions of labor. And here the revolutionary dynamics often got stuck on a single question: How will future humanity work? Should it work at all? The visionary writer Andrey Platonov proposed several contradictory options. In his novel Foundation Pit, the protagonists work to point of total exhaustion. In Chevengur, on the contrary, they stop working altogether as a programmatic and radical gesture. Finally, in Juvenile Sea, they become ceaselessly inventive, displaying an exuberant working creativity. Many writers of the 1920-30s hesitated between the abolition of labor, its extreme technologization, and its hyper-acceleration or a total creativisation. The text "In one thousand years," written in 1927, opts for a creative non-labor and describes the inhabitants of the future as dancing, singing, painting creatures, who also regularly engage in unassisted flight. Like art, levitation and flight are considered a creative pastime that keeps the new humanity busy. All these activities - more or less virtuosic but decidedly unalienated - can be read as pure self-expression or cultural dissemination. What they don't accommodate - and the author is absolutely certain about it - is labor. Neither painting, nor dance, nor levitation contain any "work". This opinion was disputed by some: levitation as labor was most prominently theorized by Tsiolkovsky, a great scientist but also a sci-fi writer. In his novels, people can very well enjoy the low gravity on the moon while working on their research assignments. For Tsiolkovsky, occupation of space by means of levitation is result of engineering labor and scientific work. All these observations bring us to the central question of our project: How can we see the relation between work and levitation today, in the times of our precarious present and the prevailing conditions of groundlessness? Analyzing different types of labor as they were depicted in early Soviet sci-fi, we will investigate possible links between the levitating proletariat and today's groundless precariat, which is trying to gain some leverage in occupying space and spaces. Keeping in mind Google Earth and surveillance technologies, we will try to imagine ourselves levitating while working. Finally, we will take this as opportunity to look back to at the role-models of the "working artist", "managing artist" and the "artist trying not to work" and ultimately, we will ask how artistic labour today resonates with these ideas.
About three years ago Oleynikov initiated a series of projects grounded in collective creative living. Since then, bringing together practitioners from different fields and organizing temporary communities in constant dialogue has become one of the essential elements of his artistic practice. This initiative was elaborated and developed in activities of the group Chto Delat? and supported by several other collectives and realized in a forms of experimental non-stop seminars, congresses-communes or learning plays which have been recently presented at the ICA in London, Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, at SMART and SCOR in Amsterdam, among others.
For "Zero Gravity Revolt" the artist and curator will conceive a specific temporality for the upcoming learning mural. The process will take 15 days, from the first brainstorming sessions to its actual "visible" result. This period of time will be filled with testing the ground, enacting the characters to be featured (flying proletariat as much as levitating bankers), training in levitation, screenings, talks, and informal exchanges. All this will result in collective writing of a program for the mural, which might take a fictional form, and its ultimate completion.
Expected results of the project
On December 15th 2011, at the opening of the show, the spectator can discover the following. There is a high degree of probability, that a mural, executed by all the participants of the project, will stand. It is not impossible that a performative action will be presented. A curatorial opening speech has a serious potential to take place. And depending on the outcome of discussions, there might be a screening of a film, introduced by an artist. Finally, it is almost certain, that a guided tour will be given by the artists and/or curator and the final press-release written for the occasion.
Nikolay Oleynikov (1976) is a Moscow based artist and activist, member of Chto Delat?, editor for Chto Delat? newspaper, member of editorial board of Moscow Art Magazine, co-founder of the Learning Film Group, and May Congress of Creative Workers. Known for his didactic murals and graphic works within the tradition of the Soviet monumental school, comics, surrealist-like imaginary and punk culture. Represented worldwide by his solo projects as well as with number of collective activities, Oleynikov has had numerous international shows including Welling School, London, State Tretyakov Gallery and Paperworks Gallery, Moscow. His work has also been shown at the Fargfabriken, Stockholm; Musée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris – MAM/ARC, Paris; Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella; X BALTIC TRIENNALE in Vilnius