Eastsplainers #5: Visual arts
At this session, we welcome multidisciplinary artist Tasha Arlova, who migrated from Minsk to Amsterdam and graduated here from Gerrit Rietveld Academie, and Anfisa Doroshenko, a PhD student in cultural studies at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and senior researcher at the Khanenko Museum for World Arts in Kyiv, who fled to the Netherlands in reply to the Russian invasion in Ukraine and worked as guest researcher at Leiden University.
The recent democratic protests in Belarus inspired Arlova to produce ‘Dear Revolution’ (2021), a short poetic film essay about her personal experience of the protests. For Doroshenko, the Russian attack on the Khanenko Museum – the largest museum of world art in Ukraine and her professional home basis – on October 10, 2022, changed her thinking about instability, fragility, and material renewal. In this panel discussion, Arlova and Doroshenko reflect on their work and on the question: how do geopolitical events and artistic practices interconnect?
Anfisa is a PhD student in Cultural Studies from The National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (Kyiv, Ukraine) and senior researcher at the Khanenko Museum for World Arts in Kyiv. Doroshenko’s research interests include modern and contemporary graphic arts (1880-today). She is particularly interested in the representation and conceptualization of ‘glimmering’ light effects, in relation to thinking about instability and insecurity. In response to the Russian invasion in Ukraine, she fled to The Netherlands. Since December 2022, Doroshenko has been affiliated to the University of Leiden’s Centre for the Arts in Society as guest researcher.
Tasha Arlova is a multidisciplinary artist from Belarus working on the intersection of film, photography, poetry, and performance. Her work is driven by personal experience that connects to bigger themes, such as gender, immigration, and civil disobedience. Arlova graduated from Gerrit Rietveld Academie (Amsterdam) with her short film “Dear Revolution” (2021), a poetic essay about her memories and experience of the crucial democratic protests in Belarus. From 2020, Arlova organized and co-curated a number of events dedicated to art as a form of protest such as the Belarus // Art of Resistance exhibition in Arti et Amicitae, Freedom Lecture at De Balie, and others.
Which contemporary cultural and intellectual trends do they witness in various parts of Central & Eastern Europe today? And how can knowledge about these trends help us understand Europe better? We study these questions with two important caveats in mind. One: the unlawful Russian regime somehow affects artists, scholars, and thinkers across all of Central & Eastern Europe – but we shun equalisations of other localities with Ukraine, where a full-fledged Russian war creates acute and mass-scale suffering. Second: rather than amplifying views on various Central & Eastern European locations as a monolithic European ‘East,’ Eastsplainers aims to unsettle these views. These locations may have connected histories – but our lectures and discussions show that they merit independent study and careful attention to local dynamics.
In a series of public lectures, staff members of the universities of Amsterdam and Leiden interview and introduce scholars, journalists, artists, film makers, musicians, and other cultural and academic professionals. They enter into conversations with each other and the audience, and they showcase new music, films, and literary works.
Apart from solidifying public education about Central & Eastern Europe, the series is meant as a space to jointly halt and digest the ongoing disturbing news about the Russian war in Ukraine. The series is also aimed to consolidate diasporic networks and offer financial support to artists and intellectuals in need. Eastsplainers is an initiative of prof. dr. Ellen Rutten, co-organised by Mari Janssen and Suzanne Rademaker and is set up with support from the University of New Europe, Middle- and Eastern-European studies publisher Pegasus and the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis.
The lectures take place from 17:00 to 18:30 in VOX-POP, the creative space of the UvA’s Faculty of Humanities.