Mubarak Rahmanova, founder and director of Abu Ali Ibn Sina Library in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Photographer unknown, 1954.

Issue #127
With: Asia Bazdyrieva, Charles Tonderai Mudede, Gregor Mobius, Josephine Berry, Boris Groys, Hanna Baumann, Adriana Massidda, Bassem Saad, Elizabeth Saleh, Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins, Aleksei Borisionok, Mary Walling Blackburn

In this issue, Asia Bazdyrieva offers a broader picture of Ukraine’s significance as a biopolitical resource for Western European appetites. In Ukraine’s operational capacity as Europe’s “breadbasket,” a colonial imaginary unfolds that sees the country’s human, agricultural, and material resources as inert—ripe for extraction by a conqueror who can release their inexhaustible transactional benefits.

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9 Essays May 2022
No Milk, No Love
Asia Bazdyrieva

Ukraine has been rendered a territory through dual colonization by Western Europe and the Russian Empire, a position that was further reinforced during the Soviet era. The complex colonial gaze that Ukraine has been subject to has at least two material aspects: First, the process of “resourcification” that sees Ukraine—its territory, natural resources, and people—as an operational space, merely a site for material transaction. And second, the way this view manifests itself when the territory is deemed exhausted of its resources, no longer of use—or is placed under existential threat, such as the one Ukraine faces today.

Of course, “Litcoin” crashes and everyone in South Side is left with nothing. Odom, the amateur astronomer, is depressed by the lost opportunity to purchase a powerful telescope. A rare comet is making its way around the solar system and he wants to see it. But he is broke again. At this point, the show makes a leap into the cosmic. All along, and all around the South Side, they have been surrounded by the cosmic. It can only be accessed by a form of wonder (thaumazein) that Hannah Arendt described in her book The Promise of Politics.

It may be that the process we call evolution, which led to more complex life-forms on earth, was not meant to improve chances for survival, but to acquire a higher-definition picture of the world, moving from lower-resolution (two pixels) toward much higher-resolution images. Thus, improving chances of survival was only a secondary goal—a necessary means for life’s need to see itself and the world around it in the best, clearest, sharpest possible way.

In his 1934 book Art as Experience, John Dewey understood the organism’s continuous negotiation with its environment in a related way. Sensuous experience, for the American pragmatist philosopher, is essential in the lessening of discomfort or the increase of well-being. It is integral to the aesthetic experience common to all life—an experience which gives rise to expressive forms and can be understood as the organismic precondition of art. Put another way, for Dewey, art is an artificial separation of the aesthetic sensibilities that suffuse and structure the experience of life-forms in the living world.

Beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the term “wisdom” appeared very frequently in Soviet philosophy publications. It was used to better situate the doctrine of dialectical materialism within the history of philosophy as well as in relation to science, art, religion, and so on. Dialectical materialism was itself conceived as a form of “wisdom”: that is, as an insight into the whole of the world which was fundamentally lacking in science and art.

Film and the Toxic Politics of Waste: A Roundtable
Hanna Baumann, Adriana Massidda, Bassem Saad, Elizabeth Saleh, and Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins

I think that living on top of a landfill is a very likely future. In fact, I would go so far as to say that in Beirut, we are already dwelling within a rubbish dump! In the film, constellations are mapped out on the back of a human body. Tattooed arrows representing reuse, recycle, and repair are portrayed like celestial movements of material that follow the tracks of industrial closed-loop circuits. A needle traces the constellation on the skin, which seems to add a violent component, as well as an element of risk and perhaps even a kink to this map-making practice. How do violence and risk frame the new social contract you envisage?

The weekend after the terrible 2020 elections, protesters gathered in front of the museum. Stella, the monument to victory, was wrapped in a huge white-red-white protest flag. In the following days, the museum was suddenly transformed into a site that the state had to “protect,” by any means, from its people. Military forces descended on the museum every Sunday during the autumn of 2020. Already made rugged from gestures of political subversion and unrest, the space was then surrounded by barbed wire and militarized police forces. This policed border separated the history of anti-fascist movements displayed inside the museum from a contemporary instance of the same struggle.

People are around me in the hallway again, having returned from the Goldsworthy located beside the house. They say he threw a fit during install and threw his chainsaw. It is art world gossip, but it also shakes up the Texas Chainsaw Massacre trope—a white man with an unleashed chainsaw, the chain actively rotating across the blade while hurtling through the air, is simply an agitated English sculptor who is more renowned for gently arranging dew and dust.


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