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Russian artists detained and arrested in St. Petersburg / Solidarity Campaign

June 29, 2020

On June 22nd two longtime collaborators of Chto Delat?, Anna Tereshkina and Nadezhda Kalyamina were taken by the police while they were peacefully protesting the sentence against Viktor Filinkovand Yulian Boyarshinov (1), falsely accused of building a terrorist organization almost 3 years ago, tortured and imprisoned (study the case here https://rupression.com/en/).

We also want to raise attention to the imprisonment of Yulia Tsvetkova (2) – a 27 years old artist accused of pornography and homosexual propaganda, facing up to 6 years in jail for publishing online her cartoons and drawing of female bodies. Tomorrow,  27th of June on the occasion of Youth Day, we are calling up for international solidarity as people in Russia will demonstrate their support for Yulia, defined ‘political prisoner’ by Amnesty International and recently granted The Index on Censorship of Freedom of Expression Award, the second Russian woman awarded after Anna Politkovskaya.

We write to share our anxiety for the current authoritarian regime and its ongoing strategy of criminalization of critical voices: censorship, threatens, preventive arrests of activists, artists and journalists, fabricated cases, and detention. All this is happening when Putin’s state throws their new amendments to the constitution which basically will allow him to stay in power endlessly (3). These amendments are designed to shut down any possibility of a competitive electoral campaign at the municipal level and block any possibility of legal political manifestation. These amendments encourage further criminalization of gender politics and mark an even more profound conservative religious turn. Thus we are alarmed by the total control of the State over the public sphere, the suppression of all forms of activism, the loss of autonomy in the critical arts, education and cultural spheres, and the dismantling of solidarity and mutual aid.Please disseminate this report, along with Anya and Nadya’s invitation to act in solidarity, raise consciousness, and put pressure through our international networks, mainstream or independent media channels, and any other ways you might suggest.

With love, rage and solidarity,

Chto Delat, Saint Petersburg

“My name is Anna Tereshkina, I was one of the thirty people detained on June 22nd during a peaceful gathering near the St.Petersburg tribunal, which led to being detained for 31 hours at the police station. That day, the court announced the sentences for Viktor Filinkov and Yulian Boyarshinov, falsely accused of building a terrorist organization named “Network”. Hundreds of people gathered in support of the unjustly convicted young men, shouting “Shame” and singing songs, waiting for Vitya and Yulik to be escorted out. The riot police began to pull us out from the crowd, one by one at first, and then randomly grabbing whoever was passing by. The display of such aggressive reaction by the authorities is meant to show that those who go out to voice their dissent are dangerous for society and that everyone should just sit home alone and be silent, otherwise one may end up behind the bars, just as the ones whom we try to defend and support.

People ask me all the time what is the meaning of the “Network” case, and why the Federal Security Service (FSB) continues to build such a clearly fake case. I can’t answer these questions, I have the feeling that “there” – in those vertical power structures – there is some other logic, the purpose of which is not to search for the truth, but to cover it. The same can be said about the case of Yulia Tsvetkova, among many other absurd cases. Yulia Tsvetkova’s story is even more troubling and disgusting. She got criminal charges for her drawings! It seems that her art pierced the most purulent abscesses on the authorities’ body. We are reaching the bottom line, where people are arrested or risking to be arrested because of their critical thinking. Thinking in itself has been criminalized. I am also an artist, I draw quick sketches during political court hearings, some of them are poignant, so I’m aware that a case similar to Yulia’s could be built against me. I feel vulnerable and at risk. So, what to do in such conditions?  We try to balance between manifesting solidarity, which is dangerous, and self-preservation. Many, from the older generation, advise me to not go to the court and to protect myself from this brutal state machine. But such an attitude won’t bring any change, it won’t end this repressive system but instead would leave the repressed one on their own, with no support- not even a moral one.  This is the worst thing that can happen. During the two days and one night I spent in the detention cell, our friends helped not to lose hope, and to recover after our release. For 31 hours I found myself in the place of those unjustly convicted and I physically felt how important is the support of friends and relatives. Therefore – do write letters to political prisoners, do send them books, make international campaigns, speak out in their defense – these are all small gestures but they weaken the massive stone that is trying to crash and silence us”.

“My Name is Nadezhda Kalyamina. I am a member of the activist musical group Rhythms of Resistance, and a friend of Yulian Boyarshinov, whom I have known since before his arrest. On June 22nd we came to play drums to support Yulian and Viktor after the announcement of the verdict. We didn’t play for long, but we know they’ve heard us. The riot police started to assault the crowd and three members of my band were detained. We continued to play drums in the police van. In February, we had the impression that the outcome of the case could have changed thanks to the large support – the crowd that gathered at the entrance of the courthouse was so big that we could not all fit in the courtroom. The trial was resumed in May and ran for three weeks. Due to the pandemic, observers were no longer allowed to attend the hearings. For the same reason, the police began to threaten arrests for solitary pickets or for playing music – not only at the courthouse but throughout the city.

Any manifestation of solidarity becomes dangerous, and the visits to court considered a health threat. People stopped going.

The “Network” case is fabricated: the claimed “evidence” of them creating a terrorist group was them playing a game called Airsoft, their expressed anarchist and anti-fascist values, the fact that some of them legally possessed licensed arms, and that they were using encryption while corresponding on the Internet. What was brought up as evidence was the testimony themselves released while being beaten and under torture? The trial began a year ago, the hearings were adjourned many times, though during the pandemic the case was quickly wrapped up, as it happened for many other political cases. On June 22nd, the judges read the verdict in front of federal journalists and relatives, the only allowed in the courtroom. It is now very important to disseminate information about this case. International and local support and solidarity are even more important for Yulian and Viktor now – sending them letters, messages that will be translated and delivered through our network, is so important. The sentence against Yulian and Viktor will not stop us from fighting for their release. Please help circulate!”

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* These testimonies were first published in Russian at www.krapiva.org

(1) RUSSIA JAILS 2 ANTI-FASCISTS, ENDING TERROR CASE PLAGUED BY TORTURE CLAIMS https://rupression.com/en/

(2) Yulia Tsvetkova faces up to six years behind bars, following a six-month investigation into an art group called Vagina Monologues set up on the social media site VK. The community is dedicated to “removing the stigma around the vagina and female physiology as a whole.”

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/russian-activist-faces-six-years-in-prison-for-posting-vagina-drawings-online?fbclid=IwAR3qoB_92dYtTcAITrHLU6b5s12ErP2FuYcvnL9kUlv843h782xdDRLihP0

(3) See the video: An advisory message from Artists at Risk (AR) International Advisory Board member, •𝕸𝖆𝖘𝖍𝖆 𝕬𝖑𝖊𝖐𝖍𝖎𝖓𝖆 of PussyRiot: FUCK PUTIN’S AMENDMENTS

https://www.facebook.com/artistsatrisk/videos/692005884928775/?v=692005884928775

“From 25 June to the 1st of July, a nationwide vote on amendments to the Russian Constitution is being held. A key point is the nullification of previous limits on presidential terms, and hence the effective legitimization of the eternal rule of Vladimir Putin. Also, following these constitutional amendments, any decisions won by Russians in international courts can be practically overturned by Russian courts, leaving us nowhere to defend our rights.

Although the results of the “vote” are not even in, the newly amended constitution is already being sold in shops.”

 

Re-enactment of The Second ArtLeaks Working Assembly in Moscow | May 24, 6:00-9:00 PM (GMT +3)

May 24, 2020

EN//

Re-enactment of The Second ArtLeaks Working Assembly in Moscow
Sunday, May 24th at 6 PM – 9 PM, Moscow time

Eight years ago International representatives of the platforms ArtLeaks and The May Congress of Creative Workers met in Moscow for the Second ArtLeaks Assembly on July 15th, 2012 at 7 PM at Shkola, Park Isskustv “Muzeon.”

See the public announcement of the call from 2012 here:
https://art-leaks.org/2012/07/07/second-artleaks-working-assembly/

They have discussed the topic “What art system do we need?” and today we invite you to join the reenactment of this Assembly which tries to discuss the pressing issue under the same title. ArtLeaks and many other similar groups or organizations emerged after the world financial crisis of 2008 and mostly against cuts and austerity measures that were implemented everywhere. Now, we are in the middle of the pandemic crisis that is bringing new austerities and negative processes. This crisis seems much more complex and harder than one in 2008, the questions and answers here must be much more prompt and different from those anti-austerity and Occupy movements had in the 2010s.

Facilitators: Corina Lucia Apostol, Vladan Jeremic, David Riff, Nikolay Oleynikov and Dmitry Vilensky

The meeting will take place online at:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83917254888?pwd=U1V1MEU2NzErSlpHeEpGWXVDWEI1UT09

Corina Apostol is a curator and writer living and working in Tallinn. She is currently a curator at Tallinn Art Hall. She is the co-founder of ArtLeaks and editor of the ArtLeaks Gazette.

Vladan Jeremic is an artist and worker in the field of political education. He is co-founder of the ArtLeaks (2011) and editor of the ArtLeaks Gazette (2013-2019).

David Riff is an artist, writer, and curator living in Berlin. He is currently Senior Curator of Steirischer Herbst festival.

Nikolay Oleynikov artist; punk; antifascist; member of Сhto Delat; Arkady Kots band, among others. Co-organizer of the May Congress of creative workers (2010-2012); co-pilot at Free Home University.

Dmitry Vilensky is an artist and educator. He works mostly in collective practices and focus on developing architecture constructions, educational seminars and learning plays, graphic works, and films. Не is the founding member of Chto Delat (www.chtodelat.org).

The assembly will take place in the framework of the series of nomadic discussions “Unification of the multitudes” (Объединение множеств) on labor and the possibility of uniting independent cultural workers to protect their rights, mutual support and pirate care initiated in Russia by informal group Union.

unnamed

Poster by Nikolay Oleynikov

 

//RU

Ассамблея пройдет на анг. языке. Текст анонса по русски см. внизу.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83917254888?pwd=U1V1MEU2NzErSlpHeEpGWXVDWEI1UT09

Серия кочующих дискуссий “Объединение множеств ” о труде и возможности объединения независимых культурных работников и работниц для защиты своих прав инициирована рабочей группой ЮНИОN

***

8 лет назад международные представители платформ ArtLeaks и Майского конгресса творческих работников встретились в Москве для проведения второй Ассамблеи ArtLeaks 15 июля 2012 года в 19:00 в парке Исскуств «Музеон».

Публичное объявление о событии 2012 года см. здесь
https://art-leaks.org/2012/07/07/second-artleaks-working-assembly/

Для ассамблеи была предложена тема «Какая система искусства нам нужна?» и сегодня мы приглашаем вас присоединиться к реэнакменту этой Ассамблеи, которая пытается обсудить тему под этим же названием. ArtLeaks как и многие другие подобные группы или организации возникли после мирового финансового кризиса 2008 года и в основном против сокращений и мер жесткой экономии, которые применялись повсеместно. Сейчас мы находимся в ситуации пандемического кризиса, который запускает новые еще более жесткие меры сокращений в культуре и другие негативные процессы. Этот кризис оказывается гораздо более сложным и тяжелым, чем кризис 2008 года, и наши ответы на вопросы должны стать точными и действенными, явно отличаясь от тех движений против жесткой экономии, которые были востребованы в 2010-х годах.

Artists protesting against the early closure of the show “Women Make History, Feminism in the Age of Transnationalism” at the Haifa Museum (Israel) UPDATE

May 17, 2020

Public Statement

May 17.2020

Dear friends and colleagues,

We are pleased to inform you that thanks to our letters, our protests on social media and in the press (radio as well), the Haifa Museum of Art reconsidered its decision to abruptly close this important international feminist show on May 18, so the exhibition is not closing tomorrow! We were informed informally today that it will remain open to the public as it was originally scheduled until June 20, 2020.

Since the exhibition was closed for over two months due to the Corona Quarantine, we will continue to demonstrate tomorrow in front of the Museum, asking for a prolongation from the museum administration, as we believe that it should be actually extended at least until August 26, 2020.

Today an article was published in the daily newspaper in Haifa about our protests, we expect to receive soon an official letter from the Museum.

Thanks, everyone for the international and local support!

We shall keep you informed of future developments!

Artists of the “Women Make History” exhibition in Haifa Museum

LINK TO THE EXHIBITION.

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Among the participating artists are:

Claude Cahun

Michele Sylvander

Tanja Ostojić

Marina Grzinić

Kathe Bukhart

Shirin Neshat

Stelarc

Liat Elbling

Alona Friedberg

Yael Bartana

Boryana Rossa

Mathilde ter Heijne

Anetta Mona Chisa

Lucia Tkacova

Vanane Borian

Shira Glezerman

Nava Harel Shoshani

Thalia Hoffman

Dganit Elyakim

Yael Meiry

Limor Orenstein

Inbal Mendes Flohr

Veren Nissim

Zamir Shatz

Oleg Mavromati

Iris Kensmil

Sharon Lockhart

Yael Meiry

Izabella Volovnik

Rona Yemfman

Tanja Schlander

Maya Attoun

Efrat Galnoor

Naama Roth

Elham Rokni

Avigail Shklovsky

Michael Blayer

Bianca Eshel Gerchuni

Tsipy Amos Goldstein

Raya Brukenthal

Arahmaiani Fesal

Iris Kensmil

Ariane Littman

Masha Rubin

Shirley Siegal

Meira Grossinger

Assaf Rahat

Roey Victoria Heifetz

Anna Yam

Chief curator: Svetlana Reingold

Artists protesting against the early closure of the show “Women Make History, Feminism in the Age of Transnationalism” at the Haifa Museum (Israel)

May 15, 2020

May 8, 2020
To:
Yotam Yakir
Director of Haifa Museums

Re: Letter from the Museum on May 7th, 2020 concerning the exhibit “Women Make
History”

Dear M. Yakir,
We would like to turn to you personally, as a group of artists, as we believe that a
severe injustice has been done to us by the way the situation was handled and the
decision was taken to close the exhibit. We received the announcement only on
Thursday at noon – when there was no one to talk to – to take down the exhibit on
short notice, by Wednesday, the shipping day. We believe that this is not an honorable and proper way to handle things. The exhibit raises the banner of feminism, and in the thoughtless decision to close the exhibit, more than 50 women artists have experienced exactly the opposite of what the exhibit affirms.

This course of action, and the way it has been carried out, conveys the message that
the subject matter is not important and that all the efforts in creating this exhibit, have been for nothing. The disregard of the women artists by the current management of the Haifa Museums (headed by a man), making a ‘cold,’ economic, and arbitrary decision, that is sudden and one-sided, without caring to find a way that will respect all involved – is hurtful and certainly not a feminist decision.

The use of section 4 of the contract that permits the Museum to shorten the exhibit
as it pleases, and therefore depriving us of the right to protest, is an act that does not
recognize the essence of the relationship with the artists, especially when the
Museum is tainted by a problematic history and unclear courses of action and must
correct this reputation in the art world. As you remember, Yotam, you have taken on
the directorship with the clear agenda to correct that reputation.

We can easily find ways to link the current concerns of corona, with the feminist
exhibit “Women Make History” and believe that the reasons we were given for the
closure of the exhibit do not justify its early closure nor the one-sided and
disrespectful announcement.

As you know, many financial resources and efforts were invested, by both the artists
and the Museum, in order to mount the exhibit and to produce it on the highest level. It must be noted that we have not received artists’ fees, and most of us have not even received the reimbursement of our expenses, of our travels, of the mounting, or have not gained any other economic benefit from the exhibit. Our reward is the exposure– which has not happened because of corona.

During the period of corona, we have lost the big exposure that was expected to take
place during the days of the Passover holidays, and Independence Day, and now
because of the decision, we (as well as the Museum visitors) have been deprived of
the exposure during Shavuoth and the buzz of the exhibit’s closing days.

Exposure is a kind of unwritten agreement between the artists and the space where
they are exhibiting, and therefore we are very much harmed both in our advancement in the field of art, as well as economically. We feel that our considerations as artists have not been taken into account, and even worse, that there has been an attempt here to sweep us under the rug. Many meetings and gallery tours with curators, art lovers and collectors were planned
to take place after the corona restrictions were lifted, which now cannot take
place, and this hurts not only us, the artists, but also the Museum’s audience.

We must note that it would have been desirable for the Museum to extend the exhibit’s length (and we still hope that this will happen) as is happening in
many other places, in order for the exhibit to receive the exposure that was its
due, an extension of time that will also be a solution to the reason you are
taking down the exhibit (at least the reason that appears in the Museum’s
official letter.)

It is important to note that this decision does not respect the artist Bianca Eshel Gershuni, of blessed memory, who is participating in the Museum in the last exhibit of her life, and she is among the pioneers of feminist art in Israel. Furthermore, we believe that the Museum should hold an honorable event that will take note of her work over the years and will emphasize her presence in the exhibit.

To conclude, we protest the way decisions were made and believe that we should be
partners in a joint thinking process about the ways in which the problem can
be solved. It is important to us, the artists, to show the variety of considerations and constraints, and we want to invite you to a zoom conversation on Sunday at noon, in order to see how we can discuss the matter and to end this period in the best and most honorable way, that will benefit all the sides.

Thanking you in advance,
The artists from “Women Make History”

Signed:
Alona Friedberg, Anna Yam, Ariane Littman, Assaf Rahat, Efrat Galnoor, Elham Rokni, Inbal Mendes Flohr, Izabella Volovnik, Kathe Burkhart (USA), Liat Elbling, Limor Orenstein, Mathilde ter Heijne (Berlin), Maya Attoun, Masha Rubin, Meira
Grossinger, Michal Blayer, Naama Roth, Nava Harel Shoshani, Raya Bruckenthal,
Roey Victoria Heifetz, Shira Glezerman, Shirley Siegal, Tanja Ostojić (Berlin), Thalia
Hoffman, Tsipy Goldstein, Vanane Borian, Vered Nissim, Yael Meiry.

________________________________________________________

 

14.5.2020

Artists protesting against the early closure of the show “Women Make History, Feminism in the Age of Transnationalism” at the Haifa Museum (Israel)

We, women and men are protesting against the early closure of the show “Women Make History, Feminism in the Age of Transnationalism,” an important international feminist show which opened at the Haifa Museum on December 21, 2019 and was due to last until June 26, 2020. Like all other museums, the Haifa Museum closed during the pandemic and we were looking towards the reopening of the show on May 17 th with the easing of restrictions throughout the country.

But to our outmost astonishment we were told a few days ago that the show “Women Make History” will close on May 18 th because the museum doesn’t want to re-open a show for 5 weeks and then close down to put up the next exhibition. We find this sudden cold, economic and one-sided cavalier attitude disrespectful towards us. What is more, the use of section 4 of the contract that allows the museum to shorten the exhibit as it please deprives us of the right to protest. We did not receive any artists’ fees and our exposure to visitors, already shortened due to COVID-19, is now ending 5 weeks before the end of the show.

We believe that fighting for culture these days is essential and that fighting for our rights as wo/men artists is no less essential when individual liberties are curbed everywhere. Therefore, we ask the museum to reconsider its decision to close the show on Monday the 18 th and allow instead this important international feminist show that was closed for over two months during the Corona Quarantine to be extend be at least until August 26 2020.

The artists:
Alona Friedberg, Anna Yam, Ariane Littman, Assaf Rahat, Boryana Rossa (USA), Efrat Galnoor, Elham Rokni, Inbal Mendes Flohr, Izabella Volovnik, Kathe Burkhart (USA), Liat Elbling, Limor Orenstein, Marina Grzinic (Slovenia), Masha Rubin, Mathilde ter Heijne (Berlin), Maya Attoun, Meira Grossinger, Michal Blayer, Naama Roth, Nava Harel Shoshani, Oleg Mavromati (USA), Raya Bruckenthal, Roey Victoria Heifetz, Shira Glezerman, Shirley Siegal, Tanja Ostojić (Berlin), Thalia Hoffman, Tsipy Goldstein, Vanane Borian, Vered Nissim, Yael Meiry.

Artists at Risk (AR) COVID-19 Emergency Fund

April 20, 2020

20 April 2020 

Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina and author Neil Gaiman back Covid-19 campaign for artists at risk

Leading international artists are supporting the launch of an emergency fund to help artists who face threats to their freedom or lives and are unable to reach a country of safety during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Covid-19 Emergency Fund for Persecuted Artists has been launched today by the European advocacy organisation Artists at Risk (AR).

Maria Alyokhina, a member of Russian feminist protest group Pussy Riot, and author Neil Gaiman are supporting the campaign alongside Chilean-American playwright Ariel Dorfman, Iraqi painter Dia al-Azzawi, Egyptian musician Ramy Essam, Syrian photographer and curator Issa Touma, Somali musician Lil Baliil and Iraqi author Saadi Youssef.

‘Undemocratic regimes are using the crisis to repress dissent, and that includes cracking down on artistic freedom,’ says Ivor Stodolsky, co-founding director of the organisation  Perpetuum Mobile (PM) which runs Artists at Risk (AR). ‘As a result, the dangers faced by artists at risk are currently escalating. We need a rapid-reaction fund for those artists who cannot leave their countries for a place of refuge.’

Artists at Risk (AR) has a strong track record of supporting artists. Since 2013, it has created 17 residencies for artists across 14 countries, including Spain, Finland, Germany and Tunisia, offering temporary AR safe haven residencies for artists who face persecution or imprisonment for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The programme has assisted artists from Brazil, Syria, Vietnam, Egypt and Kenya, among other countries. 

Following the closing of borders to limit the spread of coronavirus, artists are no longer able to take up the offer of residencies outside their own countries. In response to the crisis, Artists at Risk (AR) is ramping up its support for artists within their regions. These are art practitioners of almost all disciplines currently facing threats to their freedom and in need of urgent assistance. 

‘During the current crisis, some artists are hoping to stay safe behind locked doors, but others are facing eviction from their homes, as they cannot pay the rent due to the impossibility of earning a living during the pandemic. For reasons like this, the Covid-19 crisis doubles artists’ exposure to risk,’ says Marita Muukkonen, co-founding director of Perpetuum Mobile (PM) and Artists at Risk (AR).  

The new fund will cover the living costs of artists at risk and, where necessary, relocate artists to a place of safety within their own country or region.

Artists at Risk (AR) is launching a crowdfunding page as part of the campaign to raise an initial 10,000 euros towards the costs https://www.gofundme.com/f/artistsatrisk

 

Saddam Covid -19 drawing

Drawing by Saddam Jumaily

 

FURTHER INFORMATION

ARTISTS at RISK (AR) is a non-profit organisation with charitable status at the intersection of human rights and the arts. AR is dedicated to mapping the field of persecuted art practitioners and facilitating their safe passage from their countries of origin, hosting them at residencies and curating related projects. Perpetuum Mobile (PM) initiated Artists at Risk (AR) in 2013 as a platform and network to support artists in securing travel documents, providing legal assistance and creating AR-Safe Haven Residencies. The European Parliament honoured Perpetuum Mobile (PM) for its Artists at Risk (AR) programme with the CIVI EUROPAEO PRAEMIUM (European Citizen’s Prize) in 2016.

Campaign: Gofundme AR COVID19 Emergency Fund

CONTACT: Jo Glanville, joglanville@perpetualmobile.org, +44 (0) 7713020971

 

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