Assembly for Culture in Ukraine

We are propagating and signing off on this appeal to international artists’ to push back against Russian aggression and the manufacturing of war in Ukraine.

Appeal to the International Art Community
(from the Assembly for Culture in Ukraine)

On March 1, 2014 the Russian Parliament authorized the use of military force in Ukraine. Russia’s intervention in Ukraine disregards all international norms and, especially, the “Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances” signed on December 5, 1994, when newly independent Ukraine gave up its arsenal of nuclear weapons. Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom pledged to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity; therefore this appeal is addressed primarily to the art communities of these countries.

When your government does not fulfill the international obligations it has accepted, can you still consider that you live and work in a lawful, civilized and humanitarian state?
Russia’s aggressive actions look like revenge for the Ukrainian people’s insistence on choosing Europe and ousting their dictatorial president, a choice that cost a hundred lives. Today Russia is an aggressor-state where culture is either forced to serve imperial propaganda or persecuted.

We call on you to actively denounce the imperial aggression of V.V. Putin, thus promoting the preservation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and, accordingly, peace in Europe.

We call for a boycott of cultural events that aim to represent Russia internationally (Manifesta, IV Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, etc.) and to support those cultural workers in Russia who dare to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

We not only encourage your free choice of method in impacting your own national government, but insist on applying uncompromising pressure on the government of the state-aggressor. We also ask you to inform your country’s leadership and population – using all available means – about what has happened and is still happening in Ukraine. In this, we promise to offer whatever assistance we can.

AWU – Kiev Updates “Fifty Shades of Brown”

Avtonomia_ACT_Kievrockdriving-PS

Fifty Shades of Brown

The overthrow of the authoritarian regime of Yanukovych by no means signifies for us the end of our fight. New dictators hasten to take the place of the Party of Regions. They will not hesitate to rely not only on considerably weakened security agencies, but on the far right militants as well. The regime of police and prosecutorial arbitrariness deserved its overthrow unconditionally, but now there may come a time for a new terror that will justify itself ideologically.

At the moment, the main power is concentrated in the hands of the opposition party “Batkivshchyna” (“Fatherland”) , which has managed to rally a substantial part of the ruling class. Its leader, recently released from prison Yulia Tymoshenko, has obvious presidential ambitions. It should be remembered though, that when Tymoshenko’s sentence was pronounced, the rally in her support in Kiev gathered no more than five thousand people, and all the mass demos of this party had to use paid-for extras. Batkivshchyna as well as the Party of Regions has virtually no serious grassroot support or activist base, but it has large enough material resources.

In order to stay in power, Yulia Tymoshenko’s team will have to appease the far rightists, the Right Sector in particular. Two such attempts have already been made – the fascists who had been imprisoned in cases not related to the Maidan were released after the enactment of the according law in the Parliament. New Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has promised to introduce representatives of the RS in his ministry. Now we’ll be able to call the cops “Nazis” with a good reason. But Batkivshchyna is clearly frightened of such a passionate and uncontrolled element in power. So they will try to get the far-right on the hook, not only by buying but also by tying them with blood. Right Sector dreams of settling old accounts with subcultural anti-fascists, so they were carefully supplied with the Security Service or police dossiers containing personal data. Probably in the near future the authorities will close their eyes to violence against the left or racist attacks, but will recall it a few months later, when they will need an excuse to reign in the uncomfortable allies.

Right Sector leads its own game, and has been doing so for long enough. Today its leader Dmitry Jarosh claims entry into power at a very high level, as a deputy prime minister for law enforcement agencies. At the same time, as reported by the journalist Mustafa Nayem, according to the records found in the Presidential Administration, Yarosh was communicating with Yanukovych or his representatives on February 20. Even before that, on January 28 the negotiations between the Right Sector and Security Service / Ministry of Internal Affairs  were officially announced. A day later representatives of the right let this fact slip,  declaring “the desire to join the negotiation process.” Probably such negotiations actually has been taking place since much earlier, especially when one considers the background of all the organizations that were a part of “Right Sector”: “Tryzub” (“Trident”) as well as SNA, and “Bely Molot” (“White Hammer”) have in various forms actively interacted with politicians from both system parties, and with the security forces  since the 90s – 2000s.

“Svoboda” (“Freedom”) Party is a competitor for both Batkivshchyna and RS equally. The latter will actively infringe on Svoboda electorate and by the time of the election  the standoff between these political forces will escalate. Now Svoboda has a chair in the prosecutor’s office. It is symbolic, because the cops and prosecutors always work closely and at the same time hate each other; their interests are very similar, but occasionally come into conflict. This is the type of relationship that exists between Svoboda and Right Sector.

Security Service is headed by Nalivaychenko who already held the post under President Yushchenko. Chief security officer of the country is famous not only for the posthumous prosecution of Joseph Stalin for the Holodomor (which looks like a particularly dark joke), but also the fight against “Kremlin-sponsored terrorist organization Antifa.” After losing his job, Nalivaychenko worked with the ultra-right (including future Svoboda activist Eugene Karas, known under the pseudonym “Vortex”), trying to create a movement “Otpor”, but this project was not successful.

At the same time, in the regions that have not yet submitted to the new government, but renounced Yanukovych, their own fascist sentiments are ripening. The Party of Regions representatives, who failed to join the parliamentary majority, establish blocks with pro-Russian far-rightists and Stalinists. Imperialists and Stalinists, Cossacks and Orthodox fanatics – all together fight against the often imaginary Banderovites, meanwhile cracking down on journalists and human rights activists. Brown center is confronted by at least as brown regions. The only difference is the historical tradition to which they appeal. All of them will focus on their “fight for traditional values”,  appealing to the social partnership and at the same time slashing social expenditures.

We take no side in the conflict between the Ukrainian and the Russian nationalists. But many protesters against the regime of Yanukovych will be dissatisfied  with both the rapacious policies of Batkivshchyna, which will hit the pocket of workers, and the “national revolution” of Right sector and Svoboda, which will try to take away the remnants of human rights and freedoms. It is these people who are indifferent to the ultra-right and critical of the system opposition, the “disgruntled members of the Maidan,” who can soon fill the ranks of the left and anarchists.

Autonomous Workers’ Union, February 24, 2014

A Statement from AWU (Autonomous Workers’ Union) on the Situation in Kiev

We just finished translating a statement from some our friends’ and comrades in Kiev, released by the Autonomous Workers’ Union.  The text in full:

Avtonomia_ACT_KievStatement about the situation in Ukraine from AWU (Autonomous Workers Union).

Civil war began in Ukraine yesterday.  A less than peaceful demonstration clashed with state defense forces and divisions formed by the adherents of the current government near the Vekhovna Rada (Parliament).  On February 18, police, together with the paramilitaries, arranged a bloodbath in the governmental quarters during which numerous demonstrators were killed.  Butchers from the special divisions finished off arrestees.  Deputies of the ruling Party of Regions and their bourgeois lackeys from the “Communist” Party of Ukraine fled from the Parliament through an underground tunnel.  The vote for constitutional amendments, intended to limit presidential power, did not take place after all.  After their defeat in the governmental quarters, demonstrators retreated to the Maidan.  At 6 P.M., the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Internal Security Bureau (SBU) declared an ultimatum to the protesters, demanding their dispersal.  At 8:00 P.M., special police forces and paramilitaries, equipped with water cannons and armored vehicles, began their raid on the barricades.  Police, the special divisions of SBU, as well as pro-governmental troopers made use of their firearms.  However, the protesters managed to burn down one of the armored police vehicles, and it turned out that governmental forces were not the only ones in possession of guns.  According to the data released by the police (on February, 19, 4 p.m.), 24 people were killed: 14 protesters and 10 policemen.  Thirty-one policemen received gunshot wounds.  Even if their estimate of losses on the side of the police is accurate, the number of victims among the protesters was definitely diminished.  Maidan’s medics cite at least 30 killed.

One gets an impression that President Yanukovich was certain that by morning the resistance would be crushed, and so arranged for the Opposition leaders to meet with him at 11 A.M. on February, 19.  As the negotiations did not take place, we can conclude that the government’s plan had failed.  During the unsuccessful operation to clear off the Maidan, the citizens of several western regions occupied administrative buildings and chased away the police.  At the moment the police, as an institution, do not exist in L’viv.  According to the SBU, protesters have captured 1500 firearms.  In less than 24 hours, the central government lost control over a section of the country.  Right now, the only solution may be the stepping down of the President, however, that would mean that he, his family, and their multiple acolytes and dependents, which form a rather large group in the ruling government, would lose their source of profit.  It is likely that they will not accept this.

In the event of Yanukovich’s victory, he will become a ruler for life, and the rest will be doomed to a life in which they face poverty, corruption, and the abolition of their rights and freedoms.  Rebellious regions are now experiencing massive restorations of “the constitutional order.”  It is not improbable that the suppression of such “terroristic groups” in Galicia will have the character of ethnic cleansing.  Mad Orthodox radicals from the Party of Regions have, for a long time, seen the conservative Greco-Catholics as the aids of “Eurosodom.”  Such an “antiterrorist” operation would be carried out with the assistance of the army, as the Minister of Defense, Lebedev, has already announced.

Today, Ukraine experiences a tragedy, but the real horror will start when the government breaks down the opposition and “stabilizes” the situation.  Signs of the preparation of a mass-cleansing operation became noticeable as far back as early February, when criminal cases were opened against the Maidan self-defense divisions as illegal military formations.  According to Article 260 of the Criminal Codex, members of such divisions may face imprisonment for 2 to 15 years.  This means that the government was planning to put more than 10 thousand citizens behind bars.  In the regions, as well as in the capital, special “death divisions” are acting as a supplement to the usual police forces.  For example, responsibility for burning alive a Maidan activist from Zaporozhye was claimed by such a “death division,” calling itself “Sebastopol Ghosts.”  They announced that they are ready to subject Maidan participants in the East to similar treatment.

In the event of the Opposition’s victory life would be far from perfect as well.  Although fascists form the minority of the protesters, they are quite active and are not the sharpest tools in the shed.  A few days of truce in mid-February lead to conflicts between the rightist groups, resulting in several pointless and violent confrontations, as well as attacks on ideological ‘heretics.’  Besides the fascists, old and experienced Oppositionists will also attempt to seize power.  Many of them already have some experience with working in government and they are no strangers to corruption, favoritism, and the use of budget funds for personal purposes.

The “concessions” that the Opposition is demanding in Parliament right now are pitiful.  Even the Constitution of 2004, that they are trying to restore, gives too much power to the President (control over the riot police and special forces is one example), and the proportional electoral system, with closed listings, hands parliament over to the control of a group of dictator-like leaders, who can be counted on the fingers of one hand.  Together with the President they will rule without obstructions.

Their second demand – the appointment of a Cabinet of Ministers composed of Opposition leaders – is altogether shameful.  Are people risking their health, freedom, and life for the sake of someone becoming a prime-minister, and someone-else getting an opportunity to control the flow of corrupt-money?  This is the logical outcome of preferring pathos-ridden conversations on “the nation,” and focusing on vertical structures tied to the same hated politicians, instead of developing ground-up organizations around financial and material interests.  This is the main lesson that Maidan is yet to learn.

However, we will be able to apply this lesson in practice only if the current government loses the battle.

The Opposition inside and outside of the Parliament is broken into multiple hostile and competing factions. If it wins, the ensuing regime will be unstable and lacking in coherency.  It will be as bourgeois and repressive as was the Party of Regions before their first show of force against the protesters in November.

The guilt for the spilled blood is partially on the EU which gladly receives money from the corrupt scumbags in Ukraine, Russia, and several African countries, while diligently neglecting to check the source of such “investments.”  It is only after seeing the dead bodies of the victims of such “investors,” that it gets so very sentimental and full of humanitarian pathos.

This is not our war, but the victory of the government will mean the defeat of the workers.  The victory of the Opposition also does not promise anything good.  We cannot call the proletariat to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the Opposition and its interests.   We think that the extent of participation in this conflict is a matter of personal choice.  However, we encourage all to avoid being drafted to serve in the internal military forces controlled by Yanukovich, and to sabotage by all means available the actions of the government.

No gods, no masters, no nations, no borders!

Kiev organization AWU (Autonomous Workers Union)

http://avtonomia.net/2014/02/19/zayavlenie-ast-kiev-o-situatsii-v-ukraine/

Bradley Eros VHS Archive

Cicada Press authors Bradley Eros et al. Sunview Luncheonette Video ArchiveThe Bradley Eros archive opened last night at the Sunview Luncheonette, a collaboration of our authors & friends et al. & Bradley Eros.  Check out the Eros Library here: Eros Library.

VHS, abbreviation for the Video Home System, becomes, by transmigration, the Velvet Hermetic System. Bradley Eros’ video corpus is currently housed at the Sunview Luncheonette (http://thesunview.org/) as a watchable archive.

Primarily a stash of bootlegs and obsessive hoardings these videos totter on the brink of obsolescence. The archive contains a holy grail[1] of weirdness and subversive art collected while Eros lived in Chinatown and the East Village in the 80s and Williamsburg during the 90s.

The works in the VHS archive were traded, duped, dubbed, mixed, stolen or bartered one by one from friends, collectors, roommates, fellow artists, film departments, public libraries, microcinemas, fans, connoisseurs, snobs & fanatics, perverts & subverts, as well as associates, thieves & spies from Kim’s, Bard, NYU, Kino, re:voir, EAI, Facets, VDB, ETC (Experimental Television Center) or the late great Mystic Fire.

This Velvet Hermetic System, this erasable & decaying encasement of encoded signals, typically modeled on the junk shop or used book store is here more fancifully structured as analogous to the table of the elements in a science laboratory or the entomology cases or butterfly collection in the Natural History Museum. Among the rare specimens, re-enchanted through collective display and access, are essential and unessential film and video works[2], obscure and familiar movies, unique and forgotten art works, documents and experiments, some with hand-made covers and sleeves (all scanned for perusal and preview), all vying for shelf-space on this free-standing mobile magnetic field.

SFAQ Review: The Gallows & Pinocchio

Some kind words from artist and writer Jarrett Earnest on Cicada, the release of The Gallows Are Busy, and Matthew Whitley’s poetry up on SFAQ.

“Last saturday I went to a book launch for the new press Cicada, a collaborative project between Anastasiya Osipova and Matthew Whitley. Their politics is lived poetics; inhabiting a romanticized insurgence in our “contemporary” Post-68, Post-Occupy moment—a poetry of “distraction” as a tactic. Their collection “The Gallows are Busy” brings together interviews with the artist’s collectives “et. al.” and The Anti-Banality Union, translated Russian text by Leonid Lipavsky, and a scholarly article on “la Movida” popular youth movement by Louie Dean Valencia-Garcia. Artists Bradly Eros, Steward Uoo, Chris Maggio contribute and images and poems. It is a beautiful publication that connects certain strands of the inchoate political aspirations of its milleu, giving it the kind of shape that will be invaluable for future artists and writers.

The only engagement with “aesthetics” comes from Whitley’s own poetry, a volume of which Cicada has also thankfully brought out. “Pinocchio Gone Limp” his first book, is separated into six sections each authored by a different pseudonymous persona complete with signature. Whether attributed to Henry Box, Peter Heard, Liam Happens or Raoul Patron, the poems continuously feel new, filled with fresh imagery, even as Whitley ridicules and undermines “authorship”. (At the front he includes a full set of his finger prints, signature, birth date and real social security number, signaling his interrogation of “identity” throughout the book is more than cheap ventriloquism.) There are no regular rhythms, and as soon as you begin to anticipate the next word, it changes, drops someplace you’d never expect. Whitley’s poet is a cat-burglar, stealing things from your bedroom you never missed until he shows it to you again, slightly transformed by Vaseline and theatre lighting.”

Read the entirety of the text here:

SFAQ

Upcoming Release: Armenian Translation of Artaud // Vigen Tadevosyan

Vigen Tadevosyan

We will, by some strange confluence of circumstance & associations, be releasing an Armenian translation of Artaud’s “Van Gogh: Man Suicided by Society” in early 2014. The translator, Vigen Tadevosyan, passed away before being able to publish the manuscript. His work spanned abstract painting, to performance & writing/translation.

Few English resources exist, but a few articles can be found online, as well as images of some of his work:

http://hetq.am/eng/news/22059/vigen-tadevosyan-soulful-artist-would-have-turned-70.html

Vigen Tadevosyan Painting

Release Party at Macie Gransion!

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We are hosting a release party for “The Gallows Are Busy” at artists’ club Macie Gransion Saturday, January 18th!  Come for an open bar, projections/films/artwork from Gallows’ contributors, & first edition copies available for purchase.  We will be holding the release from 6:30-9:30 PM.

Thank you to Macie Gransion for hosting us & all of the artists & writers who contributed.

Contributors joing us include Bradley Eros, et al., Stewart Uoo, Anastasiya Osipova, Matthew Whitley, Chris Maggio, the Anti-Banality Union, & Louie Dean Valencia-García.

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Follow the event here.

The Gallows Are Busy is Released!

The full print run has arrived at last for “The Gallows Are Busy.”  We will be hosting a release party in Manhattan come mid-January, 2014, with a date to be announced in the next few days.  The hard copy is available now for order in the store.

TheGallowsAreBusyWebSpread

Read the introduction here(PDF):

“The Gallows is simultaneously about, and is a product of, slippery “vacation vision.” We began and are now finishing it at a time of necessary travel, its accompanying disorientation, and the claustrophobia of weighty and unwanted leisure.  Mexico City and Kiev are the end-points of our itinerary, and in-between are several months of extorting materials from friends and comrades in New York, our actual living place.

In this publication we attempted to follow and describe the trajectory of a glazed and nervous eye, which takes in the textures of things, and all the associations that they give birth to, but fails to understand their function.  We gathered several accounts of such suspended, disassociative perception without celebrating, but also without condemning them.  Rather, our intention was to consider the broad spectrum of “checking out”: its poetry, its stupidity, its cunning, its rebellion.

We do not want to praise distraction for distraction’s sake.  Instead, we would like to remind about the necessity to historicize it.  To treat it as a tactic.

Contributions to the Gallows are clustered around several semi-clandestine, semi-subcultural groups and movements – the Spanish Movida of the 1980s, the OBERIU of the 1930s Soviet Union, the Anti Banality Union (working in the context of 2012’s movement of the squares) and et al. artists’ group of today.  Each shares a common method of invention, forcing attention to slip onto secondary things, to undo and reconstruct perceived reality by magnifying details and building from them a new whole.”

Thank you to all of our contributors, living and ethereal, for their patient zeal: Bradley Eros, et al., Stewart Uoo, Louie Dean Valencia-Garcia, Anastasiya Osipova, Matthew Whitley, Leonid Lipavsky (in original translation from the Russian), Chris Maggio, Eduardo Haro Ibars (in original translation from the Spanish), and Andrea Bellu.