This autumn, the ICA presents the first major project in the UK by Russian collective Chto delat?
(What is to be done?). Formed in 2003 and made up of artists, critics, philosophers and writers, the collective sees its diverse activities as a merging of political theory, art and activism. The group’s ideas are rooted in its members’ active participation in, and research into, current social and political situations in Russia, as well as principles of self-organisation and collective doings. Their work uses a variety of means to advance a leftist position on economic, social and cultural agendas; they publish a regular newspaper, produce artwork in the form of videos, installations, public actions, and radio programmes, and contribute regularly to conferences and publications.
For the ICA Chto delat? has formulated a wide ranging project that extends its identity as ‘a self-organising platform for cultural workers’, presenting artwork and ideas produced by multiple individual and collaborative practices, as well as a new issue of the Chto delat?
newspaper. For the exhibition, the group aims to create a didactic installation that reclaims the educational value of art focused on basic activities, such as watching, reading, listening and discussing.
The ICA gallery is structured around a series of display modules which are actualizations of Russian Constructivist Alexander Rodchenko’s designs for the interior of a workers’ club. A three-tiered cinema space serves as a viewing area for Tower Songspiel
(2010), the most recent work in a trilogy of narrative films that sit at the centre of the collective’s visual practice; these ‘songspiels’ take on a mode of musical theatre developed by playwright Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill in the early twentieth century, presenting political and social concerns through the accessible and often humorous form of song. The symbolism within Tower Songspiel
is echoed in an installation along the ICA’s concourse, enlarged red veins conjuring up notions of power and pervasive control.
Leading the visitor through the gallery space is a unique audio guide devised by Chto delat? for the exhibition. The guide is a wry response to the conventions inherent in the institutional presentation of contemporary art. On display in the Reading Room is a program of video works produced by artists from Chto delat? in collaboration with other individuals and groups. These pieces articulate various manifestations of collective artistic and educational practice. For a full list of participants visit www.ica.org.uk/chtodelat
Chto delat? (founded in 2003 in St Petersburg, Russia) has exhibited and presented its work in many recent projects including The Idea of Communism
, Volksbühne, Berlin (2010); The Beauty of Distance
, 17th Sydney Biennale (2010); The Potosí Principle, Museum Reina Sofia, Madrid (2010); Morality
, Witte de With, Rotterdam (2010); A History of Irritated Material
, Raven Row, London (2010); Plug In
, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2009); Istanbul Biennial (2009); 4th Biennial of Moving Image, Contour Mechelen, Belgium (2009).
The ICA project is realised by: Tsaplya (Olga Egorova); Nikolay Oleynikov, Gluklya (Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya), Nina Gasteva, Vladan Jeremić/Rena Rädle and Dmitry Vilensky.
Expanding on this gallery presentation, Chto delat?’s collective working practice becomes a platform for a number of events occurring throughout September and October, including a 48-hour ‘communal living’ seminar occurring across the theatre and galleries and leading to the public staging of a participatory Learning Play, an open-microphone ‘Night of Angry Statements’, and a weekly screening event addressing political filmmaking. For further information regarding these events visit www.ica.org.uk/chtodelat
Chto delat? (What is to be done?) The Urgent Need to Struggle
will be accompanied by ROLAND, the magazine of the ICA’s programme.
For press information please contact Jennifer Byrne
(E: firstname.lastname@example.org / T: +44 20 7766 1407).
The Institute of Contemporary Arts is a registered charity in England, No: 263848