Cultures of violence

Cultures of violence

e-flux Notes

Oleksiy Radynski, Kyiv, 2022.

May 23, 2022
Cultures of violence

Recent contributions: Hito Steyerl, Igor Gulin, Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Geert Lovink, Kateryna Iakovlenko, Santhosh S.,Dmitry Vilensky (Chto Delat collective), Bohdan Kukharskyy, Anastassia Fedyk, Yuriy Gorodnichenkoand Ilona Sologoub

In the past week on e-flux Notes, we published two remarkable essays about the ways that cultural production can reinforce state violence. These essays—one by literary critic Igor Gulin, the other by Hito Steyerl—were written 20-plus years apart, yet they reach strikingly similar conclusions about the folly of believing that art is an inherently progressive or pacifist force.

Originally written in 2000, Hito Steyerl’s piece has taken on renewed relevance in our time of grisly war and everyday white-supremacist violence. Steyerl describes a litany of cultural formations from around the world that serve to promote nationalist ideology and exclude marginalized people, concluding that “culture is based on crime.” Igor Gulin, writing in the shadow of Putin’s senseless war on Ukraine, reflects on how Russian culture has sometimes perpetuated state violence, and sometimes fought against it heroically.     

Other recent highlights on e-flux Notes include Geert Lovink’s interview with Bifo, about a cultural malaise they call “Mental Long Covid,” and ruangrupa’s powerful open letter challenging accusations of anti-Semitism made against documenta fifteen. We also continue to foreground writers exploring the far-reaching repercussions of the war in Ukraine. Kateryna Iakovlenko, a Ukrainian art critic and scholar, describes movingly how she learned to embrace her rage, which fostered solidarity with others fleeing the invasion. In another essay, Iakovlenko shows how the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is complicit in Putin’s war-mongering. Indian cultural theorist Santhosh S. examines the widespread support for Russia’s invasion among Hindu nationalists. And Dmitry Vilensky from Chto Delat, which remains active in Russia despite severe cultural repression, declares that “the survival strategy now can only be collective,” not individualistic. Finally, a group of Ukrainian-born scholars challenges Noam Chomsky over his geopolitical interpretation of the Russian invasion.     

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