Circling the Square: Maidan and Cultural Insurgency in Ukraine is at the printers at last, clocking in at 40 pages in tabloid format, in English, Russian and Ukrainian. The print edition will be available through the website late this week on a pay what you will basis. We only ask that you cover the cost of shipping.
If you’d like to pick up a copy in person, we’re hosting a release at the Interference Archive, June 26th, Thursday, at 7 P.M. with Olga Kopenkina, an NYC based curator who recently traveled to Ukraine and organized the Imaginary Archive exhibition in Kyiv, and Ian Dreiblatt, poet and one of the translators of the publication.
“Maidan Voyage” by Caroline Busta in today’s scene & herd section of Artforum gives a generous nod to the Press and to our editor Anastasiya Osipova. Caroline also met many of the protagonists of Circling the Square, and delivers a fresh report on the tangled alliances comprising the Ukrainian cultural sphere, check the article out here:
It is our desire to distribute this publication openly and widely with no cover price as a gesture of solidarity. All donations will be used exclusively to offset the high cost of printing, and to facilitate wider distribution of the complete printed edition as well as to ensure that Circling the Square remains in its beautiful full color format. While we are waiting for printer approval and turn around this also allows us to begin to proliferate the articles and calls to action that we feel have a sense of urgency and should not have to wait for lengthy printing and shipping.
To donate and receive the digital edition follow the order link, type in your selected price and click “Add to cart”. Follow the checkout on the upper right hand corner of the menu. Be sure to enter an accurate e-mail address in checkout, the download link will be automatically mailed to this address. Payment can be received not only through a PayPal account, but from any debit or credit card.
We’ve finished compiling and laying out the totality of our latest publication, Circling the Square: Maidan & Cultural Insurgency in Ukraine. Advance PDFs are available for review, as well as for any interested readers while we await the finalized print edition. A free PDF will be made available after the release event. It’s ultimate form will be a full color 14” x 22.75” newspaper with broadsheet style entries, intended to be distributed at little or no cost.
The publication features a massive list of contributors, the majority in original English translation, as well as a complete Russian and Ukrainian index of source material.
Its contributors: Pavel Arsenev, Assembly for Culture in Ukraine, Larissa Babij, Oleksandr Burlaka, David Chichkan, Chto Delat?, Nikita Kadan, Volodymir Kuznetsov, Mariana Matveichuk, Dmitry Mrachnik of the Autonomous Workers Union, Anastasiya Osipova, Petr Pavlensky, Marina Simakova, TanzLaboratorium Performance Group, Anna Zvyagintseva, Larisa Venediktova, Alexander Wolodarskiy, Serhiy Zhadan. (For a full list featuring bios and links consult our original announcement here).
Its translators: Olivia Crough, Ian Dreiblatt, Ilya Kliger, J. Kates, Ronald Meyer, Dennis Ossipov-Grodsky, Anastasiya Osipova.
Expect to see the publication back from the presses within a weeks’ time. For further information consult the Titles section.
Our newsprint/broadsheet publication dedicated to the recent events on Maidan and the culture surrounding it, tentatively titled “Circling the Squares,” is nearing the final layout phase. The printing has been delayed, but for the best of reasons: we have received and are finishing translating several new and beautiful pieces. The original post has been altered to reflect the new contributors, along with links of interest, but we would like to thank and include them here. The translators who volunteered their help and hours of time to this publication deserve a special mention as well.
Additional contributors: Anna Zvyagintseva, Nikita Kadan, Larisa Venediktova, Larissa Babij, TanzLaboratorium, and Mariana Matveichuk.
Translators: Ian Dreiblatt, Ronald Meyer, Ilya Kliger, Olivia Crough, Dennis Ossipov-Grodsky, and J. Kates.
We expect to send the publication to the printers, with a short turnaround, in about one week’s time.
We are in the process of translating and laying out writing, artwork, and statements from the radical left wing of Ukrainian and Russian cultural workers in response to the events of “the Maidan” and the political theater surrounding the invasion of Crimea. The publication will be in broadsheet or newspaper format, double facing, in both English and Russian translation, intended to be distributed at little or no cost.
The contributors thus far:
Serhiy Zhadan, Ukrainian poet and anarchist, beaten for his organization and support of the occupation in the Eastern city of Kharkiv.
Larissa Babij, translator, writer and curator living in Kiev. She has worked with fellow contributors, the performance group TanzLaboratorium, and is a member of the Art Workers’ Self-Defense Initiative.
TanzLaboratorium,a Ukrainian independent performance group that works with time in given, randomly found, or consciously chosen spaces.
Larisa Venediktova, a performer, dancer, director, and curator currently working with the group TanzLaboratorium.
Alexandr Volodarskii, who was previously sent to a labor camp as retribution for a public “obscene” performance protesting Ukrainian censorship laws. He has just released a book in Russian about his time there with a violent humor.
Mariana Matveichuk, participant of Maidan, coordinator of the School for Visual Communication and staff member of the Les’ Kurbas Center.
Nikita Kadan, artist and member of REP, Hudrada, and the Art Workers’ Self-Defense Initiative.
Anna Zvyagintseva, artist and member of Hudrada and the Art Workers’ Self-Defense Initiative.
Volodymyr Kuznetsov, Ukrainian artist and member of REP, who was recently censored at the nationalist tinged “Great and Grand” exhibition at the Kiev Arsenale.
The Autonomous Workers Union of Kiev, an anarchist organization that has released numerous statements on the uprising and ensuing crisis.
Pavel Arsenev, Russian poet, and editor of the magazine Translit.
The Assembly for Culture in Ukraine, (also translated as Assembly for Art Workers in Ukraine or Assembly of Cultural Workers) who have released a call for art workers internationally to boycott art world events supported and hosted by the Russian state.
Petr Pavlensky, Russian performance artist who recently was arrested for “petty hooliganism” with other artists and activists after a public performance of solidarity with the uprising in Maidan on the eve of Russian intervention.
Chto Delat, a Russian collective of artists, writers, critics, and philosophers founded in 2003 with the goal of merging political theory, art, and activism. They have recently released a statement withdrawing from, and advocating the boycott of, Manifesta 10 in Saint Petersburg.
MarinaSimakova, a writer, critic, and a connoisseur of the twentieth-century literature. Lives in Moscow.
David Chickan, an artist and a member of the anarchist Autonomous Workers Union. Lives and works in Kiev.
And a final special thanks to all the translators who have produced original translations of many texts new and old with incredible speed:
Ian Dreiblatt, Ronald Meyer, Ilya Kliger, Olivia Crough, Dennis Ossipov-Grodsky, and J. Kates.
Expect to see this inky propaganda go into print within a months’ time.
We are pleased to offer another publication of sorts, this in the vein of an artists’ multiple or interwoven edition. The book is a large collection of 8.5″ x 11″ prints, extrapolated from the Haunted House installation the artists’ group (and Gallows’ contributors) et al. erected in Frankfurt, Germany. Each is a densely collaged fragment in and of its own right, but the totality of the book is intended to be re-assembled, together, to make a massive singular print.
The project in et al.’s own words:
“On three nights, from the 28th to the 30th of October, the artists’ group et al.* presented the Haunted House in Frankfurt am Main. There were a little over 60 artists and crew involved. The range of skill went from lighting design to costume design to make-up and carpentry. Eighteen artists performing in 20 rooms that guests to the house walked through. Additionally each night there were invited performers: Vaginal Davis (Berlin), Jean-Louis Costes(Paris), Bradley Eros(New York) who performed on a constructed stage in the “chapel” of the house. They would mark the opening of the evening and were themed accordingly.
While returning in 1929 from South America to Europe, Le Corbusier met Josephine Baker on board the ocean liner Lutétia. Baker was famous around the world for her dance in which she was dressed in nothing but 16 bananas. Le Corbusier made several sketches of Josephine during this time and an erotic color drawing.
It was the contention of the Haunted House that Josephine Baker haunts the European cultural ego. Working from the notion of specificity of high art and the role of the architect in the city, as quoted by Le Corbusier and Amédée Ozenfant in Foundations of Modern Art: THERE IS A HIERARCHY IN THE ARTS: DECORATIVE ART AT THE BOTTOM, AND THE HUMAN FORM AT THE TOP. BECAUSE WE ARE MEN.
We will be participating in the Book Fair attached to the ACLA (American Comparative Literature Association) academic conference. It will be taking place at NYU building 19 University Place (ground floor) in Manhattan, March 22nd, Saturday, 11 A.M. to 5 P.M., just preceding an open to the public punk literary panel featuring the likes of Richard Hell and Kathleen Hanna.
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.
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.