Anti-festival of Mutations: In Limbo

‘I Hate COVID-19 and COVID-19 Hates me’, Nada Prlja, 2020. Documentation of a performance, 18 photographs, colour. Courtesy © Nada Prlja. Photographs © Niccolo Serafimovski

Where: Saint Petersburg (Rosa House of CultureBorey Art CenterSDVIG (Studio of Performative Arts)Yegorka communal galleryStreet UniversityParasite art galleryAssembly, 4413 space) among other places/states of soul

Initiative and score by Chto Delat and other tender mutants of care

Participants: Anna Averyanova, Daniel G. Andújar, Babi Badalov, Zoe Beloff, Lada Baricheva, Anastasia Vepreva, Alice Creischer, Grupo Etcétera, Gluklya Natalia Pershina, Nikita Kadan, krёlex zentre, Georgy Mamedada , Roman Osminkin, Performative Drawing Studio (Rena Raedle & Vladan Jeremic), Alena Petit, Party of the Dead, Pyotr Prynev, Laure Prouvost, Roee Rosen, Andrey Rudiev, Natalia Rybalko, Christoph Schäfer, Maladen Stylinovich, Julia Strauss, Haim Sokol, Schwabing Balgrad / Arrivati, Anna Tereshkina, Adele Chereshnya, Society of the Friends of the Virus, WRONG NINNA NANNA (Franco Bifo Berardi, Marco Bertoni, feat. Lydia Lunch) and Olga Tsaplya Egorova, Nina Gasteva, Dmitry Vilensky, Nikolai Oleinikov (Chto Dodel group) and a visual archive of mass images of the fight against the pandemic.

Nada Prlja participated with 18 photographs from series I Hate COVID-19 and COVID-19 Hates me (read more about the project).

‘I Hate COVID-19 and COVID-19 Hates me’, Nada Prlja, 2020. Documentation of a performance, 18 photographs, colour. Courtesy © Nada Prlja. Photographs © Niccolo Serafimovski
‘I Hate COVID-19 and COVID-19 Hates me’, Nada Prlja, 2020. Documentation of a performance, 18 photographs, colour. Courtesy © Nada Prlja. Photographs © Niccolo Serafimovski

To all who share an alarming uncertainty in the face of the current transformations of our shared world, our bodies, our professional and personal future. Anyone interested in reinventing their agency in this mysterious situation where we cannot find answers to the most basic everyday questions

This festival is conceived as a project of solidarity among the community of cultural workers of St. Petersburg in dialogue with the international community, which shares similar concerns

The pandemic situation revealed new forms of necropolis: in nursing homes, in refugee camps, in prisons, behind closed doors, where there is no protection from domestic violence, in emergency referenda and elections, in mass impoverishment and growing inequality. Experimental governance technologies at the intersection of security, health care and police surveillance are defining (in a penetration test mode) an anthropological shift in politics.

On the other hand, not everything is so gloomy. During this period, many unexpected things happened: a sudden semi-suspension of production and consumption, the invention of grassroots forms of caring for each other, an explosion of resistance to racism and social injustice, as well as a call for asceticism in culture and everyday life. Life opens up a horizon of new opportunities, even in Russia, where the situation looks especially hopeless and seems frozen until the end of Putin’s life.

This can become a central question for all participants who consciously decide to present their work in real spaces (indoor and outdoor).
We clearly understand that in the current situation there remains a serious, non-calculated risk of infection for those who mount the exhibition, who take care of its work, for the public, who wants to see it. At the same time, spaces of culture and art try to maintain their position as safe, as it were, protected places, while masses of people are forced to travel to work in crowded public transport, treat the sick and do all the necessary work to support the life and reproduction of communities. Is this a sign of the conscious responsibility of cultural institutions to society, or are we witnessing a new division between the ultra-safe zones of exclusive art consumption and the brutal “contagious” economic dictate? Moreover, the artists

The existence and rituals of “art and culture” are often taken as some of the few self-evident justifications for our human existence. However, now nothing is self-evident, and together we must find new solutions how the practice of creating exhibitions and the processes of alternative education could be realized, despite the growing anxiety forcing us to hide behind the screen.

Viruses mutate. The metaphor of mutation raises a number of new questions that need to be considered in the broader context of the new biopolitical regime: what is the nature of environmental and human mutations? How are they structured? How can we read and develop the language of mutations (we remember that art is also the most important virus)?

We are looking for other forms of mutation: from individual to general, from necessary forms of self-care to radical concern for the life of a community of people, nature and technology and the ability to speak about it in art.

With the support of Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (Moscow Branch), Foundation for Arts Initiatives and Chto Delat Mutual Aid Fund.

Executive partner: The Creative Association of Curators TOK

Information support: Sigma