Fellows

Oleksiy Radynski, Grant Watson

Online Screening of Oleksiy Radynski’s Landslide and Interview with Grant Watson

BAK 2019/2020 Fellow Oleksiy Radynski’s film Landslide (2016) premieres online 26 August 2020 as part of the screening series From Matter to Data: Ecology of Infrastructures, 29 July–9 September 2020, Museum of Modern Art, New York. This series presents a selection of 15 films and video works available in three part. Radynski’s film is part of the third screening “Past’s Futures: Anthropocene or Capitalocene?”, screened from 26 August until 9 September 2020. Read more about the screening series at MoMA’s screening platform post here.

As part of his Fellowship research trajectory and project How We Behave, BAK 2019/2020 Fellow Grant Watson interviewed the Fellows about resistance and political practices. Radynski spoke about Landslide. Read some of the interview below! This interview will be part of the culmination of the Fellowship program Propositions #12: Waves Breaking Walls, Futures in Movement taking place 12 September 2020.

 

Grant Watson: Tell me about the place where Landslide was shot.

Oleksiy Radynski: Several years ago, there was a situation where my collective and other collectives and artists occupied a piece of land in central Kiev that had been abandoned because of a natural and social disaster in the 1990s. This abandoned area gradually emerged as a refuge, or last resort, for a lot of counter cultural artists. We’ve been running a small space in a garage coop, basically a cluster of workshops and DIY studios. It was completely fluid, completely makeshift, and not a very comfortable situation, but it seemed to me that there were some constellations of really interesting artists and practitioners there, who did things in the same place at the same period of time. So, it was interesting for me to document it, to make people discuss their work on camera and argue about things we’ve been arguing about for quite some time.

This was this situation of an ephemeral queer existence of several avant-garde personalities, which I decided to capture this with a film. By making the work, I thought I would kind of claim that this was something that actually exists, and that’s something others maybe have to remember. Otherwise it would completely evaporate. So, in a way the film almost faked this phenomenon, or this artistic situation, or this artistic cluster, because that is what films do in most cases. On film things look more interesting than they are in life, for better or worse. So, this was an experiment in making things real by fictionalizing them a little bit, or by manipulating them—things that maybe wouldn’t be real otherwise.

Taking over this territory in the city center was like the return of the humans to an area that was taken from them by the forces of nature and of social destruction. In the 1990s, there was a kind of small-scale apocalypse, a geological disaster, a landslide, in this area—and since then it has been uninhabited, abandoned. A whole street of 19th century bourgeois buildings that ceased to exist in the 90s because the state structures collapsed, and social structures collapsed. Nature, as we now know, restores itself very quickly in these situations. In the course of ten years there was just a wood there and then humans started to return to this area that they were kicked out from, and the first to come were artists, as sometimes happens.

GW: What was your relation to the characters of Landslide prior to filming?

OR: I’ve known most of these people for a very long time and I knew them as interesting thinkers. For instance, some of the conversations we’ve had with an artist Vova Vorotniov over the years ended up being included in the film, but in a completely improvised way, so it is a completely non-staged, documentary film. One of these conversations is about the issue of non-alienated labor, something that unexpectedly came up in a lot of talks and interviews in the film. Because this whole area was an experiment in liberating one’s labor, the small-scale liberation of artistic labor—which is of course problematic because this kind of liberation can’t really work properly if it only happens on a small scale. It only works, if it works for everyone. One of the conversations that was pertinent at that time and maybe still is, maybe even more so, is the question of liberation in the here and now versus the idea of struggle. The idea of struggle is something that is always delayed, and you have to always fight towards some defined goal or situation or state of affairs that probably never arrives, or if it does arrive, it probably comes in a completely different form than what you expect.

Of course, this is a very old debate, roughly, between Anarchists and Marxists, which was reproduced in a way in that environment. There is this anarchist school of thought which claims that the only struggle worth fighting for is a struggle that starts with the here and now. That you should just live your utopia right here and right now and not create the conditions for the better life, something which the Marxist revolutionaries are invested in. So, this then, was an attempt to just start living the life that we would like to live. It was a very short-lived kind of space where this could be possible at least long enough to make a film. Of course, it was super ephemeral, like most of these initiatives are, and basically it only exists in the film. In reality everything was not so bright, and none of us actually liberated our labor for good.

There were people who were talking about labor and the liberation of labor, and there was another faction of people who were just silently doing things—but not in the sense that someone was taking the privilege of discourse while the others had to labor. Doing something was also a statement, so one could make statements by doing things rather than talking. In the film, for instance, an architectural collective called Pylorama are building a construction, a kind of a hybrid space for performance, a venue for the different practices that people in the area were involved with. They are building this open-air venue with an auditorium like a theater, a bit like a small-scale theater of Dionysus in Greece—it is long shot, but it was a small-scale experiment in producing this kind of space. The area evolved in different forms over time, but all of the collaboration on building the theater structure lasted for one month and the filming also lasted for one month.

GW: Tell me about the queer performance collective that has a strong presence in the film.

OR: The time of the filming was kind of a special moment in the life of this area because it was joined by Misha Koptev, an artist who had fled from the occupied territories in Eastern Ukraine, from the city of Luhansk. This was a queer artist who for several decades used to run a queer performance troupe in the city. His practice merged theater, performance art, and DIY queer fashion and all this was happening in a quite conservative city in Eastern Ukraine, really close to Russia. Post-industrial or industrial regions sometimes have this homophobic reputation, so it was surprising for me to know that this was the only self-organized queer theater group anywhere in the whole of the country. He has somehow been tolerated there and had some type of venue that was frequented by all kinds of people. But then he had to flee after Russian proxies took over when this region was occupied by actually fascist, ultra-patriotic pro-Russian forces, and then at some point, simply by regular Russian forces. This made his work and existence there impossible.

And so Misha Koptev fled to Kiev and he actually ended up in this cluster of garages, and my collective welcomed him into the venue we used to run, and we turned one of the garages into a kind of a base for his activities. He assembled a new troop from amongst the artists and performers in Kiev, and he started to rehearse with his new troupe there. It was a different situation for the whole cluster, as even though there’s quite a strong queer scene in Kiev, this was something radical, in terms of bodily presence and nudity and all kinds of transgressions that happen during his performances.

GW: It seems that his performances are appropriating the elements of fashion industry and therefore can be easily commododified.

OR: Misha appropriates this language from the catwalk, but he takes it to a different dimension that is undigestible for commercial fashion. He subverts the catwalk completely, so he never had any kind of commercial success and his shows were never commodified. His practice is based on improvised dressing up. He collects and assembles all kinds of costumes, or discarded elements, second-hand stuff, or something that someone would find in the trash and then during the performance they improvise by continuously changing these costumes. And all this cannot really be repeated because these costumes only exist for the several minutes that the performer is on the catwalk.  So, I think he is actually avoiding commodification although I’m not sure if he is doing it consciously, it just emerges from the way he works. Although he would not be really opposed to some kind of commodification as a person who is living in poverty.

Before Misha’s arrival, this whole cluster looked a little bit like a hetero lad, graffiti, masculine, slightly macho scene, and it was interesting to observe the inclusion of this really strong queer component.  I’ve been cautious about possible homophobic situations with regards to Misha. But as there was this fairly loose vision of what kind of local utopia was going to emerge – his art and his position was totally included. Misha brought a very strong queer spirit to the place. This also contributed to a spirit of sexual liberation, which was already present in the area anyway. Misha was hoping for this place to become a cruising area, which I think happened to some extent.

GW: So was the ampitheater constructed there specifically for Misha’s performance?

OR: The amphitheater was not created for the sake of Misha’s performance, it was basically a collective work by various people and groups who came up with this idea, while Misha’s troupe was on the margins rehearsing, but in the end, it turned out that this spontaneous process led to the creation of a space that would be best utilized by him. It is partly because Misha always does these kinds of site-specific performances, and this place turned out to be the probably his best setting. His performances only make sense to you if you are physically watching them in the here and now. They are an act of ecstatic climax, they cannot really be planned and are to a very large extent improvised. It’s basically about people doing things they truly like to do in life, but they will never admit this to each other or themselves. It’s about a moment of complete bodily and instinctual liberation, a kind of happiness in the here and now, that cannot be reproduced and cannot be really documented. And let’s not forget that before the amphitheater for the Greeks emerged as the site for the Dionysian unconscious, the theater of Dionysus that gave birth to performance out of ecstatic dance and ritual—which then became a way of reflecting the community to itself.

 

 

 

Related content

Lukáš Likavčan Presents Fellowship Research at Sonic Acts

BAK 2018/2019 Fellow Lukáš Likavčan presents his new book Introduction to Comparative Planetology (2019, read an excerpt at Strelka Press here) at Sonic Acts Festival, Amsterdam, 2020. Research and writing for the book was done during Likavčan’s Fellowship.  Listen to his Sonic Acts podcast here and watch his presentation here.

Charl Landvreugd Named Head of Research & Curatorial Practice at Stedelijk Museum

Congratulations to BAK 2018/2019 Fellow Charl Landvreugd on his new position as Head of Research & Curatorial Practice at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam! We know that he will do important, critical, and motivating work.

To Dig A Hole That Collapses Again

A survey exhibition of Otobong Nkanga’s works is presented for the first time in the US. The exhibition titled To Dig A Hole That Collapses Again opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago from 31 March–9 September 2018.  

Gathering in these Times: Extension, Intensives, Culmination in September

Due to the many effects of the pandemic, the Fellowship Program has shifted significantly. With fatigue, urgencies, the traps of digitalization, travel restrictions, expanding global inequalities, calls for actions, the massive changes generally and looming dangers, the Fellowship Program cannot continue in the form it once was. In addition to meeting online and searching for […]

Diana McCarty in Deserting from the Culture Wars

BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht and MIT Press, Cambridge, MA and London present Deserting from the Culture Wars, the second reader in BAK’s BASICS series, edited by Maria Hlavajova and Sven Lütticken. Deserting from the Culture Wars reflects upon and intervenes in our current moment of ever-more polarizing ideological combat, often seen as the return of […]

Suely Rolnik: The Spheres of Insurrection

As part of the Fellowship program in November 2017, Wendelien van Oldenborgh convenes and moderates a (Skype) seminar with psychoanalyst, cultural critic, and curator Suely Rolnik. During this seminar, Rolnik discusses her text ”The Spheres of Insurrection: Suggestions for Combatting the Pimping of life” and how microspheric modes of existence are capable of interrupting the […]

Sruti Bala: Decolonizing Theater Studies and the Anecdote

Dr. Sruti Bala leads a discussion on decolonizing Theater and Performance Studies and the use of the anecdote during the Fellows Workshop on 21 November 2018.

Is Data the New Gas?

“In 2017, The Economist famously claimed that “data is the new oil.” At the time, Wendy Chun’s response to this statement was: “Big data is the new COAL. The result: global social change. Intensely energized and unstable clouds.”12 Still, both coal and oil are likely to decline as energy sources. Another question worth asking, then, is: what […]

Mad About Study, a Training with Joy Mariama Smith

BAK 2019/2020 Fellow Joy Mariama Smith leads a training as part of Trainings for the Not-Yet (14 September 2019–12 January 2020), an exhibition as a series of trainings, in October 2019 at BAK. The training addresses collective reading and writing, conversations, somatics, movement research, karaoke, and more, culminating in a dance party and public intervention. […]

Training by Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh and Hamada al-Joumah: An Investigation into Collective Work Processes for Self-Determination

BAK 2018/2019 Fellow Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh and community activist Hamada al-Joumah convene the sixteenth training as part of the Trainings for the Not-Yet, An Investigation into Collective Work Processes for Self-Determination, from 27 November to 1 December 2019. The training focuses on discussions, collective readings, presentations, and exercises for developing a resource box for collective working and […]

Closing Dinner for Trainings For The Not-Yet, with Jeanne van Heeswijk and Bakudapan

On 22 December 2019,  Trainings for the Not-Yet (14 September 2019–12 January 2020), the exhibition as a series of trainings co-convened by artist and BAK 2018/2019 Fellow Jeanne Van Heeswijk and BAK, ends with a communal meal, cooked by the Bakudapan Food Study Group! with the Basic Activist Kitchen.  The communal meal, convened around sharing food […]

First Fellows Intensive of the BAK 2020 Fellowship Program

In September the Netherlands-based stream of the BAK 2020 Fellows gather at BAK, with social distance, to begin their work together. Through mapping exercises, establishing collective protocols (or something close to it), spending time with the BAK team, and sharing well-ventilated space, a sense of what is to come in the Fellowship has emerged. This […]

Online Screening of Oleksiy Radynski’s Landslide and Interview with Grant Watson

BAK 2019/2020 Fellow Oleksiy Radynski’s film Landslide (2016) premieres online 26 August 2020 as part of the screening series From Matter to Data: Ecology of Infrastructures, 29 July–9 September 2020, Museum of Modern Art, New York. This series presents a selection of 15 films and video works available in three part. Radynski’s film is part of […]

The Wind Egg

From 15 September 2018–6 January 2019 BAK Fellow Haseeb Ahmed has had a solo show IN SITU: Haseeb Ahmed – The Wind Egg as part of the In Situ series at M HKA, Antwerp. For millennia ancient Egyptian, Aran, Indian, European, and Chinese cultures have conceptualized the wind egg, suggesting that the wind can fertilize […]

Andre Reeder and Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Fellows Intensive

Fellows Mitchell Esajas, Grant Watson, and Reem Shilleh, along with BAK, were preparing to co-convene a Fellows Intensive beginning 23 March, 2020. With lockdowns starting in Europe just a week before, the plans became impossible in their imagined forms and the Fellows were unable to gather at BAK, visit The Black Archives in Amsterdam, do […]

Charl Landvreugd’s Movt. Nr. 10: Ososma

BAK 2018/2019 Fellow Charl Landvreugd creates a large-scale, solo installation exhibition Movt. Nr. 10: Ososma at CBK Zuidoost, Amsterdam (25/10–13/12/2019). The exhibition is a self-portrait and a critical reflection on cultural hybridity, integral to Landvreugd’s work, research, and current times.

Cinema Olanda at The Black Archives

On 26 November 2017, one day after the opening of the exhibition Black and Revolutionary: The Story of Hermina and Otto Huiswoud, the Amsterdam premiere of Cinema Olanda (2017) took place at Vereniging Ons Suriname and The Black Archives. The film has been part of the installation Cinema Olanda, made by the artist Wendelien van Oldenborgh […]

BAK 2019/2020 Fellows Gather for the First Fellows Intensive!

The BAK 2019/2020 Fellows gathered at BAK in Utrecht for their first of seven Fellows Intensives together. Throughout the week, the Fellows presented their work, motivations, and research; learned about BAK, Utrecht, and each other; ate meals together; planned activities; found unlikely and motivating places of connection; imagined possibilities; shared references, pieces, and publications; met […]

Fellows at Le Guess Who?

  On Friday 8 November, BAK 2018/2019 Fellow Jeanne van Heeswijk and Utrecht-based experimental music festival Le Guess Who connect visual artist, activist, womanist, and fellow Fellow Patricia Kaersenhout with Chicago-based pianist, clarinetist, and composer Angel Bat Dawid for an event as part of Trainings for the Not-Yet (14 September 2019–12 January 2020). Both women tap […]

Latitude On Air – Unsettling Power Relations

BAK 2019/2020 Fellow Diana McCarty works with Goethe-Institut and her project reboot.fm, both Berlin, to co-create a multi-day long experimental radio program Latitude On Air – Unsettling Power Relations (2020), and exploring ideas of locality, being together, and social justice and legacies of colonialism. As part of the program, co-Fellow David Muñoz Alcántara is commissioned […]

The Architecture of Entanglement Ontology

During  the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2018, The Swamp School will function as a changing, flexible, open-ended infrastructure that supports experiments in design, pedagogy and artistic intelligence. Invited designers and scholars, including BAK Fellow 2017/2018 Pelin Tan, will conduct performative lectures and lead workshops for participants and visitors to the Biennale. On Saturday 26 May 2018, Pelin […]

Mijke van der Drift at Love Spells & Rituals for Another World

BAK 2019/2020 Fellow Mijke van der Drift presents her research The Logic of Loss in Bonding in the talk “Realisitcally Impossible: The Magic of Social Change” at the virtual conference Love Spells & Rituals for Another World. As Love Spells explains:  Engaging with queer, feminist and decolonial approaches and drawing on developments in cultural studies […]

Ending the Post-Academic BAK 2018/2019 Fellowship

In June 2019, the post-academic BAK 2018/2019 Fellowship comes to a close. After ten months of intensive thinking, imagining, enacting, practicing, troubling, discussing, laughing, sometimes even crying, the Fellows continue on their work in differing forms. Throughout our time together, the Fellows and their research have influenced and transformed each other’s as well as BAK. […]

Roet in het Eten Book Launch

As part of Propositions #2: Assemblism, Quinsy Gario presents his new book Roet in het Eten [Spanner in the Works],an anthology of newspaper columns, opinion articles, blog posts on among other things anti-racism, white supremacy and Dutch media landscape written between 2011–2017 and published mainly on the eponymous online platform Roet in het Eten.  

March BAK 2018/2019 Fellows Intensive with activists, artists, and theorists in Barcelona

BAK 2018/2019 Fellows Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh and Jeanne van Heeswijk co-convened the March Fellows Intensive with critic, writer, and curator Ethel Baraona Pohl in Barcelona. The Intensive focused on, among other things, collective practices and facilitation, housing movements, artistic action, and neighborhood initiatives. The Fellows had the privilege of getting to speak in depth with members of La Borda, Calàbria 66, Can Batlló, La Ciutat Invisible, La Col, Coòpolis, De Veí a Veí, Espai en Blanc and Marina Garcés, Fil a l’agulla, La Lleialtat Santsenca, and La PAH.

Fellows Intensive Joins Propositions #9: Deserting from the Culture Wars

The BAK 2019/2020 Fellows gathered in Utrecht for the second time in November. Along with mapping ideas and sharing research, they joining programming and trainings for BAK’s Propositions #9: Deserting from the Culture Wars, co-convened with writer and curator Sven Lütticken as a temporary spin-off from Trainings for the Not-Yet and the ninth iteration of BAK’s long-term […]

May BAK 2018/2019 Fellows Intensive: Models, Timelines, Scale, and Guest Ramon Amaro

BAK 2018/2019 Fellows Haseeb Ahmed and Lukáš Likavčan co-convene, along with BAK, the April Fellows Intensive focusing on modelling, timelining, scale, and the social and political aspects that shape and inform these. Along with presentations, screenings, and experiments in pedagogy and workshops curated and conducted by these Fellows, machine learning researcher and designer Ramon Amaro […]

Objects of Love and Desire

Patricia Kaersenhout has a solo show, Objects of Love and Desire, at Wilfried Lentz Gallery, Rotterdam from 6 February–24 March 2019. Objects of Love and Desire shows Kaersenhout’s newest banner works showing black women scholars, journalists, poets, and activists of Caribbean decent in action as heroic figures, in the style of historic Chinese propaganda posters. […]

Three Generations of BAK Fellows Present at Propositions #10: Instituting Otherwise

BAK 2017/2018 Fellows Isshaq Al-Barbary and Matthijs de Bruijne, as well as 2018/2019 Fellow Jeanne van Heeswijk and 2019/2020 Fellow Mitchell Esajas presented and engaged in training and discussion as part of BAK’s program Propositions #9: Instituting Otherwise on 7 December 2019 at BAK, probing the question of how to institute spaces for art in […]

Shela Sheikh: Colonialism, Cultivation, and Nonhuman Witnessing

As part of the Fellowship weekly intensive in November 2017, Fellow Luigi Coppola convenes a number of discussions including a seminar with lecturer and researcher Shela Sheikh on 24 November 2017 to talk about colonialism, cultivation and nonhuman witnessing and resistance to the colonial mode of organizing, appropriating and extracting value. In the afternoon session […]

Collective Dictionary: Political

In April 2016, BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, brought to life the Here We Are Academy: a spirited temporary recomposition of a refugee-initiated platform for learning called We Are Here Academy. Established in Amsterdam in 2012, We Are Here is the first large-scale organization of refugees living in limbo in the Netherlands. Through projects organized […]

Archiving, Refusal and Mujaawarah: Fellows Intensive

BAK 2019/2020 Fellow Reem Shilleh brings 2018/2019 Fellow Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh to speak with the Fellows on their shared experiences archiving. As Shilleh writes: Based on our respective experiences with collecting, archiving — on Palestine and in Burj al-Shamali camp in Lebanon — and refusing to doing both, our conversations around editing led us to questions […]

Collective Dictionary: Inhabiting

Inhabiting is an outcome of the collaboration between Al Maeishah (Isshaq Al-Babrbary, Elena Isayev, and Diego Segatto) and the Office of Displaced Designers (ODD), who invited Al Maeishah to implement their research on The Alternative Atlas of Lesvos: An Island for the World. The atlas aims to intersect with those forcibly displaced, with the global web […]

Practicing Tactical Solidarities: A Roundtable on Mutual Aid, Emergency, and Continuous Care

Streaming online at bakonline.org/prospections and on social media: @BAKUtrecht on Facebook and @BAK basis voor actuele kunst on YouTube With Afrikaanderwijk Cooperative (including BAK 2018/2019 Fellow Jeanne van Heeswijk), Rotterdam; the Basic Activist Kitchen, Utrecht; Brigate Volontarie per l’emergenza, Milan; and Homebaked Anfield, Liverpool Coordinated communitarian responses to this crisis have abounded, with individuals and […]

Final BAK Fellows Intensive: Helianthe Kort and Preparing Propositions #8

The BAK 2018/2019 Fellows meet for their final Intensive in June. The week begins with BAK 2018/2019 Fellow Charl Landvreugd bringing Professor Helianthe Kort presenting and discussing her research on healthy built environments. The rest of the week, the Fellows build their own environment along with the BAK team, getting ready for the culminating public […]

Propositions for Non-Fascist Living: Tentative and Urgent Published!

BAK has published the first publication in a series on our research trajectory Propositions for Non-Fascist Living (2017–ongoing), Propositions for Non-Fascist Living: Tentative and Urgent (MIT Press, 2019). Moving from critique to propositions, the project attempts to articulate and inhabit methods of de-individualized living and to practice ways in which multiplicity and difference establish relations […]

The Ether and Radio Alhara: Ella Finer, Hazem Jamjoum, and Reem Shadid

Fellow Urok Shirhan convenes a session with BAK, centering her research on audio forms,”collective listening, acoustic commons, and… what the shift from the eye to the ear could hold for us.” Over two days and a few digital sessions, Fellows heard talks about historic uses of radio, listened to sound pieces alone together, and experimented […]

Consent, Logic, and Loss: Fellows Intensive

In February, the BAK 2019/2020 Fellows come together for another Fellows Intensive. This week experiments with various communication practices being researched by Joy Mariama Smith and Mijke van der Drift, the BAK Fellows who co-convene this intensive along with BAK, and Curator of the BAK 2019/2020 Fellowship Program Whitney Stark and focuses on  consent, and […]

Call for Proposals: BAK Fellowship for Situated Practice 2021/2022

BAK’s postacademische programma Fellowship for Situated Practice staat nu open voor aanmeldingen van in Nederland gevestigde beoefenaars die werken op het snijvlak van kunst, theorie en sociale actie. De deadline voor aanmeldingen is 9 mei 2021, 24.00 uur CEST. Het postacademische Fellowship-programma van BAK bestaat sinds 2017. In het programma staat het onderzoek naar, en de herformulering […]

Rehearsing in Public with the BAK Fellows

On Wednesday 12 February 2020, BAK 2019/2020 Fellows Mijke van der drift and Joy Mariama Smith, along with BAK, co-convene a participatory panel. Along with artist Ahmed El Gendy and poet and activist Nat Raha, they rehearse in public experimental and collective practices that they are trying out in their research. The participatory panel aims to […]