The Russian Bar: Why Relocate? New Approaches to Neighborliness and Interchange

Creative Association of Curators TOK

June 6–September 10, 2018
June 4, 2018
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Series of talks, discussions, performances and exhibitions about the new wave of migration from Russia in changing political realities

Project participants: Alina Belishkina and Vera Kavaleuskaya, Sezgin Boynik, Ilya Budraitskis, Livsmedlet theater (Ishmael Falke and Sandrina Lingren), Kalle Hamm, Minna Henriksson, Katarina Lopatkina, SashaPasha, Ilya Orlov, Kseniya Yurkova, and others.

Curated by TOK

The Russian Bar: Why Relocate? New approaches to neighborliness and interchange is a traveling art platform in Helsinki driven by the intention to analyze the dynamics of new migration wave from Russia fueled by the political turbulence and economic instability of the past and current decades. It is also an attempt to find new languages and ways to articulate the changes that migration processes bring for local and global professional communities. The project will also focus on the changing internal and external politics in Russia and Finland and the complex relations between the two in the historical perspective.

By looking at the Russian-Finnish context, the curatorial collective TOK (Anna Bitkina and Maria Veits) intends to contribute to the studies of global processes of migration and its local implications, rethink concepts of citizenship, state and statelessness and the role of art in creating social connections. Through ongoing and specially commissioned works, participating artists, social researchers, curators and art historians, who are currently based in Finland, will reflect upon their own experiences of migration, the state of transition and the reaction of Finnish society to their arrival. They will also address other current and historical experiences of exile and displacement, roots of nationalism and social acceptance, communication and exchange, disappointment and civil powerlessness, social and cultural clashes and reciprocity. With the project, TOK raises a question about extending borders of curatorial and artistic practice: they see The Russian Bar as an instrument for self-reflection and conceptualization of a new political reality.   

The title "Russian Bar" comes from the historical tendency for bars and cafes to turn during transitional times into political spaces where informal and heated conversations take place, and where creative ideas are born. The fact that the project will travel from one venue to another also refers to the practice of bar-hopping.

The first part of the project will open on June 6 at PUBLICS with a conversation between artist, historian and writer Ilya Budraitskis and artist and researcher Sezgin Boynik, who will discuss the legacy of the Cold War and its effect on the cultural policy in the global and local sociopolitical and cultural contexts. The events program will continue on June 9 and 10 with two performances by Livsmedlet, Nightshifttheater,  about migration experiences and challenges of adaptation. They will be conducted in collaboration with Urb Festival 2018 and will take place in a private apartment and in a city square. On the June 13 there will be a lecture by Dr Katarina Lopatkina about feminist artistic agenda in the 20th century in Russia and Finland and Speech Karaoke based on texts in Russian, Finnish and English that touch upon political and human relations between Russia and Finland will be held on June 15 in Bar Loose.

The projects of the other participants will be presented to the public in the end of August–beginning of September 2018. The Russian Bar will be concluded by a publication that will be released in early 2019. 

Click here for the full project description and June events program.

TOK is curatorial collective founded in St Petersburg by Anna Bitkina and Maria Veits in 2010 as a platform for conducting interdisciplinary projects in the fields of contemporary art and social research. Started as a grass-root initiative, TOK is an example of a new form of a self-organized, nomadic and sustainable art institution that responds to sociopolitical changes and challenges locally and internationally. At the moment the curators look closely at various strategies of migration and forced relocation.

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