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Artist Volodymyr Kuznetsov has taken legal action against the Mystetskii Arsenal (Kiev, Ukraine)

May 19, 2015

UPDATE

21/05/2015:
At the court hearing, only the plaintiff (Volodymyr Kuznetsov) and his representative (the lawyer) were present. The other people involved in the case did not present themselves before the court, although they had been duly informed. On May 19th, a request was filed by the third party (N. Zabolotnaya) and her representative to postpone examining the details of case to another date. The hearing was then adjourned to June 30.

_________________________________________________________________________

The lawsuit of Volodymyr Kuznetsov against the State Enterprise Mystetskyi Arsenal begins on 21 May 2015 in Kyiv Pechersk District Court. The artist says the action relates to the destruction of the artwork “Koliivshyna. The Last Judgement”. In July 2013, it was painted over with black paint at the order of the Mystetskyi Arsenal’s Director [Nataliya Zabolotna].

Volodymyr Kuznetsov is requesting the following:

1. Recognize the actions of the State Enterprise “National Cultural Art and Museum Complex “Mystetskyi Arsenal” of painting over the work by Volodymyr Kuznetsov “Koliivshyna. The Last Judgement” as unlawful and a breach of intellectual property rights of the author.

2. Recover 1,000 (one thousand) hryvnas 00 kopiyka in damages and 121,800 (one hundred twenty one thousand eight hundred) hryvnas 00 kopiyka for material damages from the State Enterprise “National Cultural Art and Museum Complex “Mystetskyi Arsenal”.

3. Require the State Enterprise “National Cultural Art and Museum Complex “Mystetskyi Arsenal” to publish, at their own cost, information about the breach of copyright in regard to Volodymyr Kuznetsov, the grounds for this breach as well as corresponding apologies in mass media, in particular in Ukrainska Pravda within a 2 (two) month period starting from the date the court decision is enacted.

4. Obligate the State Enterprise “National Cultural Art and Museum Complex “Mystetskyi Arsenal” to pay related legal costs.

21.05.2015

12:00

Plaintiff:

Volodymyr Kuznetsov Oleksandrovych

Defender: State Enterprise “National Cultural Art and Museum Complex “Mystetskyi Arsenal”, third party: Nataliya Zabolotna Pylypivna

on recognition of unlawful actions, compensation of moral damage and payment of compensation for copyright breach

42A Khreshatyk Str., Kyiv, Kyiv oblast, 1001

Civil cases

“This is not a question of personal relationship or personal attitudes. I accepted the personal apology of the Arsenal’s Head and forgave the insult. However, the thing here is not about apologies, but about addressing the public with a social and political gesture. With this trial, I want to draw public attention to the problem of artist-institution relations and to the legal vulnerability of the workers in the arts and culture when dealing with culture functionaries,” said Kuznetsov.

The artist believes that the trial will initiate positive changes in the cultural field and will help to build fairer and clearer relations with workers in the arts and institutions. “I also want to raise questions about the narrowing interpretation of the notion of censorship in our country, about the lack of legal obligations even in state exhibition spaces, not to mention the private galleries,” Volodymyr Kuznetsov believes. In his opinion, since there is no clear definition of censorship in Ukrainian law, the trial that he initiates will allow to classify future censorship issues more clearly.

Link to the full text in Ukrainian and Russian:

“The Last Judgement” in Pechersk Court or why I am initiating a trial.

 Vladimir Kuznetsov's work

Volodymyr Kuznetsov’s work “KOLIYIVSHCHYNA. JUDGEMENT DAY” after the censorship
© Volodymyr Kuznetsov / Facebook

For more background on this case read Ukrainian Museum Director Destroys Critical Painting Ahead Of President’s Visit.

Suzana Milevska // Disobedient (Reasons for Resignation)

April 27, 2015

For more background into this case please read: Suzana Milevska // VIS VERITAS OBSES (Truth Is the Hostage of Force) and Suzana Milevska // VIS VERITAS OBSES (2).

22 April, Schillerpark, Vienna

Information distributed to the students who attended the meeting requesting more information from Prof. Dr. Suzana Milevska regarding the course for Central and South Eastern European Art Histories, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. 

Dear students, thank you for your support and for coming to the Schillerpark. Some of you requested more information about the reasons for my resignation when you received the student’s campaign and petition Free Suzana (in support to my request to your Academy of Fine Arts Vienna for one sided premature termination of my contract).

Things became awkward already in November last year, when the Erste Foundation never mentioned my name as the previous winner of the Igor Zabel Award for Theory and Culture at the Award Ceremony for the new Igor Zabel Award. Moreover they even disinvited me from giving a key note speech at the Ceremony (usually given by the previous winner), to which I was originally invited as the 2012 Igor Zabel award’s winner. Yet I was not aware of any specific issues with either the Erste Foundation or the Academy of the Fine Arts Vienna, and even now I am not sure what triggered all the disrespect that I and my work suffered at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (unless the plan was to replace me, but how could I have known this?). Now the Erste Foundation that founded my position in partnership with the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna claims that it’s only the Academy’s decision (read: Rectorate) to select the new Professor (see: Apology letter from 12 April).

However, I have many reasons to believe that, in fact, it was a mismanaged deal between the Erste Foundation and the Academy and I hope to be able to prove this problematic intrusion of the founder’s in the academic autonomy during this meeting. Because in all correspondence with the Rectorate, the Rector and the two Vice-Rectors always have the last word, and I am treated as a liar and my voice is overwritten on so many different levels it became impossible to me to teach and believe in this academic structure, and in the promise for a dialogue behind this position. During this meeting I want to put emphasis on the dangers to my integrity and self-respect that eventually led to defamation and thus forced me to ask for resignation. The most important points of the conflict are that:

1.  On 16 December 2014 – the Rectorate answered that I am eligible to apply [for the Endowed Professorship for Central and South Eastern European Art Histories at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna], after I asked via the Dean of the Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies where I taught (evidence number 1).

2.  On 16 December, the same day when they might have realised that they made a mistake or omission, they threatened me not to apply before I applied (in an accidental meeting the Vice-Rector quoted some financial reasons that later turned not true-again, the rotation rule was never mentioned)-my testimony and the Dean’s testimony for the same quote confirm the consistence of this story.

3.      Obviously, only later they decided that I am not eligible, behind closed doors, when the decision was already made, and this cannot be legal (it should have been in the call)

4.      When the professors selected me, the Rector decided to appoint another candidate on the basis of a rotation rule that was never written before, and without informing even the professors (why then would have they voted for me, if they knew? and why would have I applied, if they had ever told me that I didn’t have the right to apply?).                                         

5.      When I asked why my application was rejected the Rector answered that ‘I knew’ about the rotation rule, and that this was implied (so I was either stupid or a liar) (evidence number 2)- so my question is how could I know when this was not mentioned in the call, not in the contract? (not to mention that when I asked, the Rector told our Dean that I could apply). So how could I know something that at that time nobody knew? However, the official explanation is still that ‘I knew’ about the a posteriori rule all this time so this implies that I am either stupid, clairvoyant or arrogant.

6.      The first year I had a contract for 10 months, then it was prolonged for 10 more months -I never had a contract for 2 years. The Rector wrote that 2 year rule change was implied – implied means that something was always the same and obvious. In my case, they kept changing the rules (evidence number 1,2, 3-previous calls and the definition of Endowed professorship-don’t mention any 2 year rule, but only excellence in theoretical contributions, teaching records and other academic merits.

7.      The first time that I’ve heard any explanation about the reasons for my rejection was on 17 December during a phone call with the Erste Foundation, when one of the coordinators of the Professorship (with no university degree) informed me that it was their preference to get a new Professor (so it was clear who’s decision the selection was). I was invited to discuss this with the other team members of the Programme Culture, regardless of direct conflicts of interest – because of family relations between an Erste Foundation’s curator, and the person responsible for the professorship at the Academy. I withdrew from such a meeting for obvious reasons: to avoid yet another stressful situation and entering the vicious circle of conflict of interests.

8.      Now the most important is that after all this the Editorial Board (consisting of the Rector and two Vice-Rectors) are trying to censor my book On Productive Shame, Reconciliation and Agency. I believe that they are trying to punish me for disobeying (just because I applied? and was selected, and objected that they selected the second on the list without proper legal or academic reasons). The Rectorate heavily disrespected my work (and my contributors’ work) by putting footnotes in my reader (without my knowledge and consent), they changed the cover image that I proposed for being too controversial – namely, a work by Sanja Iveković, Disobedient (Reasons for Imprisonment) from Documenta 13 to which I referred in my introduction as to the most inspiring work for the book’s concept).  They’ve even given my book (or just a text, who’d know?) to a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts who hasn’t contributed to the book in any capacity to check how she was mentioned in one text (without my knowledge and consent) because of the “defamatory nature of the mention” and this was the last drop. Is this how books are made in Austria? I consulted everybody in the editing business- everybody said that this is outrageous – people would have never published anything critical if they knew that their texts would end up in the hands of criticised writers for their text (and the criticised text regarding the “defamed” professor’s class was published only in the Academy’s newspaper and the critique was mild- not mentioning the conflicts in the her studio class). The Rectorate claimed that the text was defamatory (to me this sounds even absurd taking into account my case), but everybody knew that there were conflicts in the class and some students withdrew from the class, so I as an editor didn’t think that a footnote was necessary. Moreover the inserted footnote on the one side doesn’t react to the criticism, so it still ignores the conflicts, but on the other side it claims that the issues discussed in the book have been discussed in the class. The Rectorate thus gave another writer the chance to include a criticism to my book in the book before it was even published! However, the Rectorate refused to include my note stating that these two footnotes were included without my consent (the both footnotes are difficult to explain because they go all the way back to the sensitive case of anti-Semitic treatment of one student from the Vice-Rector, whom now the Rectorate blames for misconstruing her claims although she graduated from the Academy in 2014 with a diploma work dedicated exactly to her conflicts in the class).

10.  Finally, the Rectorate doesn’t allow to me to resign without going to the Rector’s office to “negotiate” my resignation, which usually means further disciplining and signing a confidentiality agreement- that I won’t share this information. I didn’t go to the office because I want this story out, even though I am going to be hurt.

I am alone in this, but I hope that future professors from my region and also the Austrian professors, whose’ respect and autonomy was also affected, may gain at least more respect and awareness from this case. I felt as a guinea pig- they were experimenting with me how much humiliation I can take – to some people this sounds like nothing, but for me it turned into a complete dismissal and defamation of my work. More importantly I hold that the other professors – my colleagues from the region who applied to the competition and/or may apply in future deserve to know how the selections and decisions are being made since they might have hoped the same as I did: that their elaborated course’s proposals, their CV’s and their education were the main criteria so they went on completing demanding applications when the truth was completely different –the fact that the newly appointed professor had never even studied art history, not teaching it in a proper academic and university context makes this story a farce! If those responsible for this Professorship, the course and call mix the terms “discipline” that is in the title of this Endowed Professorship (usually given for excellent achievements in the discipline) and “field of study” (gender studies are not even mentioned in this title, it’s only mentioned as one of the topics of interest), then this is really amateurism! Using the term “postcolonial” in the open call makes it even cynical. Is this responsibility towards you, the previous and the future students of this course?

I hope these 10 reasons are enough to convince you in my endangered integrity and self-respect. There are many details about the Erste Foundation that are even more problematic. Anyway, my contract is signed with the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and in my apology to the students I already stated that “the truth is hostage of force” because the Rectorate always finds a way to prove that their lie is the only ‘truth’ including inventing a posteriori rules, rules about who can teach art history, etc.

Perhaps some of you were right, the information is not complete, not yet, but the others believed in my story and signed the petition. Now I am too ill even to deal with the resignation and the petition.

Thanks again for your trust and support.

Sincerely,

Dr.Suzana Milevska

The appointment of Jelena Petrović as the new Endowed Professor for Central and South Eastern European Art Histories at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Austria was announced today by The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and the ERSTE Foundation.

Suzana Milevska // VIS VERITAS OBSES (2)

April 24, 2015

For more background into this case please read: Suzana Milevska // VIS VERITAS OBSES (Truth Is the Hostage of Force)

Dear Colleagues from the Institute of Art Theory and Cultural Studies ​at the Academy of Fine Arts​ Vienna,


Thank you very much for the update. I have just received a message from the Dean of the Institute of Art Theory and Cultural Studies, prof. Ruth Sonderegger informing me about the ​meeting at the Rector’s office regarding my case​ on ​23 April 2015.​

​I​ didn’t understand what was actually gained with this meeting because all updates consisted of the information that I can go to the Rector’s office accompanied by someone (not specified in the message) and that I’ll gain support regarding the editing of my reader (highly appreciated)​.

​Anyway, ​as you know already, the Rector(s) were calling me to such a meeting​ to discuss the “misunderstandings” regarding my case ​ever since I tried to resign. They could have said the same things even before that the Dean and colleague, ​Andreas Spiegel met with them (I wouldn’t know because, as you know already, I could not go to the meeting in the Rectorate and even now I cannot, with or without any company, because of health reasons). Since the Dean informed me that she is again away on a professional trip, and because I don’t have any energy left, nor time for yet another week of stalling and waiting for “news” regarding my case, I am addressing this letter to all colleagues at the Institute.

I knew that I was right all the time: I never received any negative information about my eligibility to apply for the job opening (except from the message which was sent to the Dean from the Rector directly, on the 16th of December 2014, that inconspicuously stated my eligibility to apply). Saying (after two or three months of all these conundrums) that “irrespectively who is right or wrong” only weakens my claims. This gives another opportunity to all people involved in this prolonged and complicated labyrinth that each day only multiplies its legal and ethical turns, and already hurt me, hurt ​my career, and even more, my health ​by just covering up the whole story, with the Equal Opportunity Team and the Arbitration Commission – from whom I haven’t heard from in weeks.

I am not sure whether I will ever get back to the healthy and successful person and professional I was before coming here. I say this after having already cancelled 4 professional trips this month, including a presentation at the Venice Biennale at a CEI Venice Forum for Contemporary Art Curators. Therefore, I just want to let you know that this news, which I’ve just read in an sms message doesn’t prove that my case was taken seriously nor appropriately and it means simply nothing to me. I respected the hierarchies and the communication channels as they were established and clearly conveyed to me until now. I officially asked and received information regarding my Professorship only via the Dean, until now, for obvious reasons. I went through all offered instruments and institutions that were offered to me – the Equal Opportunity Team, Arbitration Committee and Work Council (they all stalled any action and as I mentioned above, I haven’t heard any news from the first two parties already since weeks, but the Work Council promised to communicate this case even to the ‘Arbaitkammer’), but now I address this letter to you only for academic reasons.

The position, the salary, the two years in Vienna, all opportunities for projects, texts, books, meeting most of you in a very friendly setting (well, at least last year) – nothing is worth this humiliation and going backwards in my life, health and career. I was paralysed for two months. As I write this letter, the Association of curators IKT holds its Congress in Vienna and I won’t go there (even though I’ve been registered as attending since months) exactly because of all the stress and harm that I suffered at your Institution. ​

I don’t think that I deserved any of this disrespect regardless of any of my actions (whilst in the ​meanwhile, my thoughts were always respectful and positive towards you, my peers)​, so I’ve taken this diplomatic message from the Dean of the Institute IKW about “irrespectively of who is right or wrong” as yet another disappointment and humiliation.

The Rector and the colleagues from the Institute should be also aware of the existence of the other professional applicants who follow this case: they are also people with dignity and long biographies in our​ discipline of art history​. This whole case, which has become a public story, is a complete humiliation not only to me, but to all professionals from this long established​ field in my region because handling this competition with such obvious lack of interest (today it is the 24th of April- three months after the closing of the call -19 January 2015,​ and application, ​two months after the decision was made) and incompetence (“irrespectively who is right or wrong”) is really outrageous and goes directly in the opposition to the main aims of this professorship that was originally designed as giving the opportunity to scholars from my region to exchange their knowledge (at least, this is what we all thought back in 2013)​.

Now, I am not writing only about the mistreatment of my own humble person, but also about the final selection from the pool of applicants, regardless how and who made this selection. Only in the course of the last week, I’ve found out that the Erste Foundation had already spread the word about the newly selected professor. (I had only suspicions which I didn’t want to even think about. I was already hurt so much, and didn’t want to enter​ any comparison or competition trusting the Institute and its decision based on a unanimous vote – now, I wish I had been more adamant regarding this knowledge, asking for more answers and more information.​)

Justifying the decision for why a person who had never studied art history is going to teach art history (from whatever region, period and regard any gender and sexuality​) at the highest university level, a position which is given for excellence in the field as a far higher title than Professor, will come on the shoulders of IKW as the professional Board of experts. Especially, when considering that the position was given to an individual from a completely different field, you may do the math. The title of Endowed Professor is not the same as the title Guest Professor as the Rector misconstrued in one of her messages. The Endowed Professorship is a title which is higher than most of your own, a name which has always caused (me) a certain amount of discomfort because I appreciated your work so much.

The main question here is why there is a new position and a new title – Endowed Professorship for Central and South Eastern European Art Histories – if one didn’t even have to study art history for one single day to receive such a title? Is this only because the region is so irrelevant, or the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna is a non-academic institution? Most of the other candidates, whom I even know personally, not to mention that I’ve been quoting and teaching their texts to my students, were disrespected and undermined with this decision. Priority was given to a candidate who I am sure has other excellent qualities and academic merits in other fields, but not the discipline of art history and thus doesn’t fit the profile from the call. It is clear (at least to me) that the non-transparent way of making this decision gave a way to so many procedural (and I suspect even illegal) mistakes that even in my country, probably the most corrupted state in Europe, the decision regarding this open call and competition would have been dismissed.

Many people deserve an apology for this, not only I. Has anybody thought about the students, what they would gain​ through such art history classes taught by an unqualified person​? My investment into ​studying art history at a BA and MA level and completing a PhD in Historical and Cultural Studies (field of study: Visual Culture) and going so far in ​designing a specific course -unique not only in terms of regional, historic and gender focus, but also in terms of methodology specifically designed to teach art history to students of an art academy – was obviously too advanced, sophisticated and irrelevant, because of the two-year change rule. But now that I am aware​ that ​the Rector’s decision implied also ​that anybody could teach art history of our region, the whole scandal goes much further than the ethical mistreatment that affected my personal integrity during the competition.​

But of course “irrespectively who is right who is wrong” I don’t expect that such things can happen in Austria given my experiences during the last couple of months.

I already apologised to the students who were curious about the current situation with the course, providing them with more information about my health and reasons for my request for resignation.

Currently, as you are all aware, I am not able to teach because I am on sick leave. My health suffered tremendously in the course of all these events. I am not sure when and whether I will be able to go back teaching and how to proceed with this situation – the amount of stress and pressure continues and is raised each week, including some warnings about police, lawyers, and the possibility of other services that could be called to “calm” me down or check my situation. I was even warned not to leave the country. In a way, they have made me feel like a criminal just because somebody wanted to cover the omissions from the open call, the incompetent decision for a selection of a new professor, …etc.

Please note that all of this could have been prevented with a simple solution – if the half of the Erste funding, or at least a very small amount of it, which stays at the Academy was paid to a professional to formulate the open call. Even my husband came up with a simple solution – namely, if it’s illegal to state my eligibility in the call, you could have added only one sentence: “we give preference to new candidates.” It’s legal and it would have conveyed the message to me: the only “old” candidate, telling me not to apply. He​ isn’t asking for copyright! Please, try to make this amendment at least​ in the next call, if there will be one, making it more ethical and professional.

With this letter, I want to profoundly apologise to all colleagues from the IKW for that I cannot continue teaching under such conditions and in such a framework which has made me sick: one which has repressed transparency and truth. I am very sorry for my bitterness, which has been a result from the unpredictable course of events for which I don’t consider myself guilty nor wrong. Therefore​, given this entire situation, I cannot accept any such formulation as “irrespectively of who is right or wrong​” to be a suitable response to this case. 

The message from prof. Ruth Sonderegger has provoked me into finally writing my own account of the current situation. ​I am not sure whether you all agree and participated in the tone of communication with the Rectorate, so I am directly addressing this to you.

Best regards,
Suzana Milevska

Defending one’s right to freedom of expression: A statement by nominees of the “Innovation” prize to the artistic community in Russia

April 20, 2015

//EN

We, a group of nominees of the  2014 Innovation” prize, consider it necessary to take advantage of our position to make this collective statement. We have been forced to take a stand after the scandal that broke out around the banning of the opera “Tannhäuser” in Novosibirsk. This situation has (once again) revealed the strengthening of illegal censorship, the clerical and reactionary policies of the Ministry of Culture, and the continued cuts in the funding of contemporary art, theater and cinema. We cannot agree with this status quo.

This negative situation is not new -in recent years, a series of events have led to such a state of things in society, criminalising the very understanding of contemporaneity. What is more, contemporaneity is not criminalised through the acts of pseudo-religious groups but rather, through of the policies of the Ministry of Culture itself, and its leader Vladimir Medinsky. Any statement made in the context of contemporary art, and which is based on the principles of independence, criticism, and the desire to experiment, is considered unnecessary and even harmful, and is consequently deprived of any support and funding, or even prohibited. The downside of this approach is the active transformation of culture into a propaganda tool for pseudo-traditional values ​​that support the present-day political structure. Only art that is ideologically tuned and considered appropriate for the current state of affairs receives state support. As a result, artists are deprived of the right to make independent critical statements. We do not harbour any illusions: the position of the Ministry of Culture is part and parcel of the present-day politics in Russia, and our ability to influence it are very limited. That is why we have to use every opportunity to draw attention to these issues, and to do everything possible to ensure that the sphere of culture does not become the vanguard of retrograde processes taking place in society.

Being nominees of this award is a great honour for us, because it shows the appreciation of our work within the community of our colleagues, many of whom, like us, are protesting against the constant attacks on contemporary art. Some critics may say that the competition in the field of contemporary visual art “Innovation” is held with the support of the Russian state, and that by participating in it, one accepts the imposed rules of the game and, thus, supports the current state cultural policy. However, we believe it is not so. On the contrary, we seek to affirm and defend our right to free expression. Our participation in the competition is another opportunity to emphasise our position.

Of course, an artist or an author expresses herself/himself, above all, through her/his works. The “Innovation” 2014 award has demonstrated that while many of us nominees employ different approaches with respect to aesthetics and creative strategies, we share a common view on critical contemporary practices. Today, it is precisely this type of art that most faces the threat of censorship, suppression, demonisation, and which is doomed to remain without basic support.

In this situation, we want to express our solidarity with the participants of the rally “For creative freedom”, which was held on April 5 in Novosibirsk. We support the basic provisions of the resolution of this rally, and above all – the inadmissibility of any form of censorship, and the need to repeal article 148 of the Criminal Code, which privileges a specific group of religious believers and gives them a special right to be offended. Also, we want to emphasise that any relationship of cultural patronage should be built on the “arm’s length principle”: no sponsor, whether private or public, has the right to interfere in the creative process, and/or its result. Support does not mean ideological dictates. The budget should not become a police baton.

We invite the community of contemporary art workers in Russia to support these demands and to unite in defence of our right to the development of independent and critical artistic thought.

Nominees of the Competition in “Work of Visual Art”

Where the Dogs Run (Vladislav Bulatov, Natalia Grekhova, Olga Inozemtseva, Alexey Korzukhin)

Teresa Art Group (Vika Begalska, Alexander Vilkin, Marina Denisova, Taira Dance, Diana Portland, Sergey Potapov, Karina ‘Katwoman’ Dulina, Baretta)

Irina Korina

Haim Sokol

Chto Delat? / What Is to Be Done? (Dmitry Vilensky, Nina Gasteva, Olga ‘Tsaplya’ Egorova, Nikolay Oleinikov)

Nominees of the Competition in “New Generation”

Polina Kanis

Anastasia Potemkina / Urban Fauna Lab

Evgeniya Dolinina, Maria Sokol

Nominees of the Competition in “Art Theory and Criticism”

Mikhail Kurtov

Igor Chubarov

Anna Romanova, Galina Metelichenko

Nominees of the Competition in “Regional Project of Contemporary Art”

Nailya Allakhverdieva, Arseny Sergeev

Unfortunately, we did not receive responses from all the nominees. This statement is still open for signatures by other participants in the award competition.

We, the winners and nominees of the 2014 “Innovation” prize (awarded for 2013), hereby support the above published letter drafted by the nominees and winners of the 2015 award, against the illegal censorship, religious pressure and reactionary policy in the cultural sphere in Russia, and express solidarity with our colleagues.

Yuri Albert
Antonina Baever
Dmitry Bulatov
Dmitry Venkov
Tatiana Volkova
Sophia Gavrilova
Dmitry Gutov
Ekaterina Degot
Petr Zhukov
ZIP Group (Eldar Ganeev, Evgeny Rimkevich, Vasily Subbotin, Stepan Subbotin)
Kirill Lebedev
Ilya Orlov
Sasha Pirogova

The letter is also signed by:

Ilya Dolgov, winner of the 2013 “Innovation” prize (awarded for 2012)
Ivan Plyush, winner of the 2013 “Innovation” prize (awarded for 2012)
Vadim Zakharov, winner of the  2006 “Innovation” prize (awarded for 2005)
Maria Sumnina and Mikhail Leikin (MishMash Group), nominated for the 2012 “Innovation” prize (awarded for 2011)
Elena Selina, winner of the 2014 “Innovation” prize (awarded for 2013)
Andrey Monastyrsky, winner of the “Innovation” prize in 2010 (awarded for 2009) and in 2015 (“for the creative contribution to the development of contemporary art”)
Alena Romanova, nominee of the 2010 “Innovation” prize (awarded for 2009)
Elena Elagina and Igor Makarevich, winners of the 2012 “Innovation” prize (awarded for 2011)

//RU

«Отстоять свое право на свободное высказывание»
ОБРАЩЕНИЕ НОМИНАНТОВ ПРЕМИИ «ИННОВАЦИЯ» К ХУДОЖЕСТВЕННОМУ СООБЩЕСТВУ

Мы, группа номинантов премии «Инновация», считаем необходимым воспользоваться нашим положением для коллективного высказывания. Заставил нас это сделать скандал, который разгорелся вокруг запрета постановки оперы «Тангейзер» в Новосибирске. Эта ситуация в очередной раз сделала очевидным процесс усиления незаконных цензурных ограничений, нагнетания клерикальной и реакционной политики Министерства культуры, планомерного сокращения финансирования современного искусства, театра и кино. Со всем этим мы согласиться не можем.

Эта ситуация возникла не сегодня — целый ряд событий последних лет привел к такому состоянию в обществе, когда само понимание современности оказывается криминализированным. Современность криминализируется не действиями псевдорелигиозных групп, а, прежде всего, самой политикой Министерства культуры и его главы Владимира Мединского. Любое современное высказывание в искусстве, основанное на принципах независимости, эксперимента или критики, считается не нужным и даже вредным, лишается поддержки и финансирования или даже запрещается. Обратной стороной такого подхода стало активное превращение культуры в инструмент пропаганды псевдотрадиционных ценностей, формирующих политическую конъюнктуру. Лишь идеологически выверенное и соответствующее данной конъюнктуре искусство получает поддержку государства. В любом случае художники лишаются права на критическое независимое высказывание. У нас нет иллюзий: позиция Министерства культуры — лишь часть современной политики России, и наши возможности повлиять на нее очень ограничены. Именно поэтому мы должны любым способом привлечь внимание к этой проблеме и сделать все возможное для того, чтобы, по крайней мере, сфера культуры не становилась «авангардом» ретроградных процессов, происходящих в обществе.

Быть номинантами этой премии — большая честь для нас, поскольку это свидетельствует о высокой оценке нашей работы со стороны сообщества наших коллег, многие из которых, так же как и мы, протестуют против постоянных атак на сферу современного искусства. Некоторые могут сказать: всероссийский конкурс в области современного визуального искусства «Инновация» проходит при государственной поддержке, и, участвуя в нем, вы принимаете навязанные правила игры и, тем самым, поддерживаете государственную политику в области культуры. Но это не так. Напротив, мы стремимся утвердить и отстоять свое право на свободное высказывание. Участие в конкурсе — это еще одна возможностьдля демонстрации нашей позиции.

Конечно, художник и автор высказываются, прежде всего, своими произведениями. Премия «Инновация» 2014-го года показала, что многие из нас, номинантов этой премии, при значительных различиях в эстетических позициях и творческих методах разделяют общий взгляд на критические практики современности. И именно такое искусство сегодня в наибольшей степени находится под угрозой цензурирования, замалчивания, «демонизации» и обречено остаться без элементарной поддержки.

В этой ситуации мы хотим заявить о своей солидарности с участниками митинга «За свободу творчества», который прошел 5 апреля этого года в Новосибирске. Мы поддерживаем основные положения резолюции этого митинга и прежде всего — о недопустимости любых форм цензуры и о необходимости отмены статьи 148 УК РФ, которая выделяет особую группу верующих и дарует им особое право быть оскорбленными. Также мы говорим о том, что любые отношения культуры и патронажа должны быть построены на «принципе вытянутой руки»: никакой спонсор, будь то частный или государственный, не имеет права вмешиваться в творческий процесс и/или его результат. Поддержка не означает идеологический диктат. Бюджет не должен превращаться в полицейскую дубину.

Мы призываем сообщество работников современного искусства в России поддержать эти требования момента и объединиться в отстаивании нашего права на развитие независимой и критической художественной мысли.

Обращение поддержали:

В Номинации «Произведение визуального искусства»:

Группа «Куда бегут собаки»: Иноземцева Ольга, Грехова Наталья, Корзухин Алексей, Булатов Владислав
Вика Бегальская, Диана Портленд, Сергей Потапов, Тайра Денс, Карина «Katwoman» Дулина (Творческий союз «Тереза»)
Ирина Корина
Хаим Сокол
Группа «Что Делать»: Николай Олейников, Нина Гастева, Цапля Ольга Егорова, Дмитрий Виленский

В номинации «Новая генерация»:

Полина Канис

Евгений Гранильщиков
Анастасия Потемкина (соавтор проекта «Зелень внешняя» группы «Лаборатория городской фауны»)
Мари Сокол (соавтор проекта «Смерти Тарелкина»)

В номинации «Теория, критика, искусствознание»:

Игорь Чубаров
Михаил Куртов
Анна Романова, Галина Метеличенко (Соболева) — также участники номинации «Кураторский проект»

В номинации «Региональный проект современного искусства»:

Наиля Аллахвердиева, Арсений Сергеев

К сожалению, у нас не было возможности получить ответ от всех номинантов премии, и это обращение остается открытым для подписания остальных участников.

Мы, лауреаты и номинанты премии «Инновация» 2014 года (премии за 2013 год), настоящим письмом присоединяемся к опубликованному ранее письму нынешних номинантов и лауреатов премии 2015 года против незаконных цензурных ограничений и нагнетания клерикальной и реакционной политики в сфере культуры в России, и выражаем солидарность с позицией наших коллег.

Юрий Альберт
Антонина Баевер
Дмитрий Булатов
Дмитрий Венков
Татьяна Волкова
Софья Гаврилова
Дмитрий Гутов
Екатерина Дёготь
Петр Жуков
Группировка ЗИП (Эльдар Ганеев, Евгений Римкевич, Василий Субботин, Степан Субботин)
Кирилл Лебедев
Илья Орлов
Саша Пирогова

К письму присоединяются также:

Илья Долгов, лауреат премии «Инновация» 2013 года (премия за 2012 год)
Иван Плющ, лауреат премии «Инновация» 2013 года (премия за 2012 год)
Вадим Захаров, лауреат премии «Инновация» 2006 года (премия за 2005 год)
Мария Сумнина и Михаил Лейкин (группа МИШМАШ), номинанты премии «Инновация» 2012 года (премия за 2011 год)
Елена Селина, лауреат премии «Инновация» 2014 года (премия за 2013 год)
Андрей Монастырский, лауреат премии «Инновация» в 2010 году (премия за 2009 год) и в 2015 году («За творческий вклад в развитие современного искусства»)
Алена Романова, номинант премии «Инновация» 2010 года (премия за 2009 год)
Елена Елагина и Игорь Макаревич, лауреаты премии «Инновация» 2012 года (премия за 2011 год)

Suzana Milevska // VIS VERITAS OBSES (Truth Is the Hostage of Force)

April 16, 2015

An open “teach and tell” letter from Dr. Suzana Milevska, Endowed Professor for Central and South Eastern European Art Histories at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and a profound apology to the students for her resignation (the second request for a premature resignation sent to the Rector of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna will follow.)

Dear Students of the “Central and South Eastern European Art Histories” course,                               

With this letter I want to inform you that I am no longer the Endowed Professor for Central and South Eastern Art Histories. A new professor was already appointed to the post. Although the legal procedures of my appeal to the Equal Opportunities Team and the Arbitration Commission, as well as the resignation are not yet completed, I am not in a situation to continue teaching the course as I have lost all trust and respect for the structures and individuals who initiated and provided for the realisation of this course and my position – through the official partnership between the Erste Foundation and the Academy of Fine Arts. The use of asymmetrical power relations, which included manipulation, intimidation, intrigue and contradicting exploitation, even some “editorial interventions” (read: censorship) of my work were some of the constant pressures which happened during the preceding period. It simply turned to be too much to handle, leading to my resignation (and even to the deterioration of my fragile health).

I will need some time to re-think the political positions regarding my curatorial and theoretical work. They were profoundly affected, in negative terms, during the last period of my teaching. I’ve lost this job and this is not a big deal for me, being independent most of my life. But, it’s important to know whether I’ve lost it because I was “too critical” and disobeyed or because I didn’t team up with “the powers that be”? Instead, I’ve devoted most of my time to preparing the lectures and seminars and discussing different topics and concerns with you, even outside of the classroom. We’ll probably never find out the answer to this, because “truth is the hostage of force.” One thing became certain, that on the stage of neoliberal systemic intervention within the educational structures whatever teaching “performances” I realised in the past and planed for the future were overwritten and became “infelicitous” – to use J. L. Austin’s analysis of “speech acts” in which the performative speeches turn into empty promises depending on the given context.

As you know I designed the course as a group PEN-PAL project. It was envisioned in order to continue the dialogue between the “East” and “West” (“North” and “South”). But my own case proved that such a dialogue, even twenty five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall (and eighteen years after the scepticism of Igor Zabel’s text Dialogue East-West: East Is East?), is still not possible, or at least not in this institutional framework and not on equal basis.

I will soon provide you with my resignation letters (the first was not accepted) and further information on the reasons of my adamant decision to resign. I’ve sent the first letter after the scandal with the schizophrenic selection process for the new call for my position (which revealed that the Rector made her decision opposite to the unanimous support of my application from the Institute of Art Theory and Cultural Studies that hosts the Professorship). I am sure that you could understand better my decision than the Rectorate because you were the only witnesses and the end recipients of the course content. A course that was based on certain beliefs which right now are only in the past, and which I cannot proceed to present without cynicism – a state of mind which I refuse as a kind of teaching and theorising framework.                                                                                                                              

Sincerely apologetic, 

Dr. Suzana Milevska, suzanamilevska@gmail.com
ex-professor for Central and South Eastern European Art Histories
Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

12 April, 2015

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Please also read and share the petition initiated by students from Milevska’s Central and South Eastern Art Histories course – “Free Suzana Milevska”

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suzana_vienna

Drawing by ArtLeaks

The New Whitney Museum and Fossil Fuels Open Letter

April 16, 2015

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We stand in support of art as a necessity in the service of life, art as a social good, and art as common inheritance of the public.

Therefore, we cannot ignore when art museums allow the public good that art engenders to be misused by powerful corporations in an effort to build credibility when their activities create environmental damage and rights abuses. The sponsorship of art by the fossil fuel industry has long been a public relations ploy aimed at obtaining a social license for destructive profit-making.

Citizens and institutions worldwide are withdrawing support for the continued extraction of fossil fuels that should be kept in the ground. In arts and culture, from London to New York to Sydney, momentum is building for museums to end their connections to the fossil fuel industry. In the UK, artists including Liberate Tate are calling for Tate to culturally divest from the oil company BP. Recently, dozens of leading scientists signed a letter initiated by The Natural History Museum, to remove climate change underwriter David Koch from the board of science museums, and for science museums to cut ties to the fossil fuel industry.

With the new Whitney museum in New York, the public now has an example of a museum that literally incorporates fossil fuel infrastructure into its foundation. The vault of the controversial Spectra gas pipeline is concealed underneath the Whitney museum’s front steps.

The Spectra pipeline is a high-pressure pipeline that brings fracked gas from Pennsylvania and elsewhere to New York City. Should an accident occur, the result could be irreparable harm to the museum, its art collection, workers, and visitors.

Though proponents of “natural” gas promote fracking as a relatively harmless process and claim that gas burns clean, the overall extraction process of fracking has a climate impact comparable to coal. The fracking process pollutes drinking water, creates harmful emissions, and causes earthquakes.

Today we are asking: how can a museum that literally covers up the dirty fossil fuel industry be a beacon for the future of art and culture? This summer, we will host a public assembly in the neighborhood of the new Whitney, and hope that representatives of the museum will be present and active in this important dialogue on art and fossil fuels.

We have Six Key Questions for the Whitney. The people of New York have a right to know the answers to pressing questions before the Whitney opens the doors of its new location.

  • How did the Whitney come to be sited over the Spectra pipeline and its fracked gas?
  • What emergency plans are in place, including
    • how will people and artworks be kept safe and protected if the pipeline explodes, and
    • as the Whitney must be aware of how lax the maintenance and inspection rules are for pipelines, what independent risk mitigation action has it taken?
  • Given that the Whitney now sits on fossil fuel infrastructure, is the art museum committed to exhibit art that explores themes such as the environment, energy, and how corporations operate in society?
  • Will the Whitney ensure that its art education, public and academic programs explore issues such as climate change and the role of art in relation to a safe, habitable environment for Americans and, indeed, all humankind?
  • Does the Whitney believe the energy future of New York should be renewable sources rather than more reliance on fossil fuels that will add to climate change?
  • Will the Whitney move forward with new environmental and ethics policies to enable it to play a responsible leadership role in the art world and sustainability in a time of climate change, including full independence from fossil fuel interests?

Artists, art lovers, environmentally-concerned citizens, and the media will be taking an interest in this issue, internationally as well in New York and across the USA. The decision to co-locate the new Whitney with fossil fuels cannot be ignored. It has given a significance to the site and identity of the art museum that will resonate in the months and years ahead.

The Whitney museum can make active choices now to be a force for good on the right side of history for the future of New York and the planet, for a culture beyond fossil fuels.

Occupy Museums
Occupy the Pipeline
Sane Energy Project
Liberate Tate
Peng Collective
Stopp oljesponsing av norsk kulturliv
The Yes Lab
Not An Alternative
The Natural History Museum
United for Action
Global Ultra Luxury Faction
Guerrilla Girls
People’s Puppets
Rising Tide NYC
NYC Light Brigade
Beyond Extreme Energy
The Mother’s Project
Climate Mama
Shale Property Rights
NYC Bike Dance
Catskill Mountainkeeper
Environmental Action

Add your name to the list of signatories here. 

This action represents a collaboration among international groups focused on culture and climate activism. As artists who care about the integrity of art museums, we are building a grassroots translocal platform which recognizes the role that cultural institutions beholden to corporations can have in creating a reality where economic and climate injustice are tolerated.  As human beings, we are fighting for a fossil fuel-free future.

Occupy the Pipeline have been fighting the Spectra pipeline bringing fracked gas into NYC since 2011. When they heard that the Whitney Museum was to be placed on the site of the pipeline’s main vault,  they initiated a collaboration with Occupy Museums (friends from Liberty Park and frequent collaborators).  Occupy Museums reached out to London-based  Liberate Tate who has staged spectacular actions at the Tate since 2010 calling on the museum to divest from fossil fuels. Other groups are now joining the call for transparency in the Whitney’s siting over the controversial pipeline.Read the solidarity letter from Liberate Tate.

The time for status quo on climate change has ended.

For more updates please follow Gas Pipeline under the New Whitney Museum.

Turkish Government Censors Film about the Kurdistan Workers’ Party at the IKSV Istanbul Film Festival

April 14, 2015

On April 12th, at the IKSV ISTANBUL FILM FESTIVAL the Turkish government censored a documentary about kurdish guerrilla PKK (The Kurdistan Workers’ Party). The film title is “Bakur”(Director: Çayan Demirel and Ertuğrul Mavioğlu) which is the kurdish word for “North”. Kurdish people use this word as a description for the northern part of Kurdistan. The Istanbul Film festival gave out a statement on their website: “As per the statute, festival participation requires that ‘films produced within the country are registered and recorded.’ Screening of films produced in Turkey without this certificate results in legal sanctions; therefore the Istanbul Film Festival will not be able to screen films that don’t have the aforementioned certificate.” As a sign of solidarity the film team of “Until I Loose My Breath/ Nefesim Kesilene Kadar” (Director: Emine Emel Balci) refused their screening.

An announcement from the Istanbul Film Festival stated:

The Cinema General Directorate of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism has sent an official letter to the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts reminding that as per Item 15 of the Regulation Pertaining to the Basis and Procedures of Evaluation and Categorisation of Film Products, films produced in Turkey need to have obtained a formal registration certificate in order to be screened at festivals.

As per the statute, festival participation requires that “films produced within the country are registered and recorded.” Screening of films produced in Turkey without this certificate results in legal sanctions, therefore Istanbul Film Festival will not be able to screen films that don’t have the aforementioned certificate.

As such, the screening of Bakur / North directed by Çayan Demirel and Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, announced to be realised at 16.00 on Sunday, 12 April at Atlas Movie Theatre, will not be made. A future screening date of the film will be announced on the condition that it acquires this registration certificate.

Films produced outside Turkey are exempt from the scope of this regulation. Istanbul Film Festival believes that this exemption should apply for films made in Turkey as well. Istanbul Film Festival has been holding talks regarding the extension of this exemption to locally produced films as well and will continue these talks. However the statute that requires the registration certificate is still in effect. Therefore other films produced in Turkey that are in the festival programme also need to obtain this certificate.

Viewers who purchased tickets for this screening can apply to the relevant box office for refunds (İKSV box office for tickets purchased from there or Biletix channels for tickets purchased from Biletix or the movie theaters.)

Furthermore, on the next day of the festival, 22 film teams cancelled their screening as a sign of solidarity with the rejected film “BAKUR” (North), directed by Çayan Demirel and Ertuğrul Mavioğlu. They declared: “We do not accept the requirement of these certificates for local productions, especially as they are not required for foreign films. We consider this to be a form of oppression and censorship.” The 34th Istanbul Film Festival committee announced April 13 that the screening of a majority of films in the National Competition, National Documentary Competition, International Competition, Cinema in Human Rights Competition, Out of Competition, and New Turkish Cinema sections were canceled. The festival committee also announced that the National and International Golden Tulip Competitions, National Documentary Competition and the Closing Ceremony were cancelled.

More information here: http://film.iksv.org/en/archive/newsarchive/p/1/1120

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A press conference by the professional organisations from the sector was held on Tuesday, 14 April at 15.30′ in Atlas Movie Theatre.

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