Staff picks
Chto Delat, Border Musical
Wednesday, May 19—Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Chto Delat, Border Musical (still), 2013.

Join us on e-flux Video & Film for an online screening of Chto Delat's Border Musical (2013), on view from Wednesday, May 19 through Tuesday, June 15, 2021. The film is presented as part of the monthly series Staff picks.

Ola from Finnmark meets Tanja from Kola. They fall in love. Tanja abandons her past and moves to Finmakrk with her son to live with her new husband. Through the joys and challenges of their mixed marriage we get a glimpse into today’s Russian-Norwegian borderland across cultural and social norms and values. How is our behavior and worldview influenced by culturally laden relationships between individual, family, and society? To what degree are we responsible for our actions, and to what degree do we leave that to the state? Who defines areas of responsibility? The Norwegian state and Ola’s best friend help the couple build a family based on sound Norwegian values.

Border Musical is not a description of reality; it is reality served up spicy: through polished language and sharp definitions, exaggerated images and multifaceted characters, bizarre movements and eccentric scenes. Why cheer for mutual understanding when we can learn from our differences?

Chto Delat (What is to be done?) is a collective founded in 2003 in Petersburg by a workgroup of artists, critics, philosophers, and writers with the goal of merging political theory, art, and activism. The name of the group derives from a novel by the Russian nineteenth-century writer Nikolai Chernyshevsky, and immediately brings to mind the first socialist worker’s self-organizations in Russia, which Lenin actualized in his own publication, “What is to be done?” (1902). Chto Delat sees itself as an artistic cell and also as a community organizer for a variety of cultural activities intent on politicizing knowledge production. The activity of the collective takes responsibility for a post-socialist condition and the actualization of the forgotten and repressed potentiality of the Soviet past, and often works as a politics of commemoration. 

The collective publishes an English-Russian newspaper focused on the urgent issues of Russian cultural politics, in dialogue with the international context, and in 2013, they initiated the School of Engaged Art in Petersburg. Chto Delat’s artistic activity is realized across a range of media, from video and theater plays, to radio programs and murals, and includes art projects, seminars, and public campaigns. Recent exhibitions include the 12th Shanghai Biennial (2018); Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow (2018); MUAC (Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo), Mexico (solo show 2017); KOW BERLIN (solo show 2017 and 2015), Bienal de São Paulo Biennale (2014); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2014); Tate Liverpool (2013);  FORMER WEST: Documents, Constellations, Prospects, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2013); 10th Gwangju Biennale (2012); Staatliche Kuntsthalle, Baden-Baden (2011); Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne (2011); New Museum, New York (2011); and Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana (solo show 2011). The works are part of the collections of Museum of Modern Art, New York; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Museum Reina Sophia, MadridLe Centre Pompidou, Paris; MUDAM, Luxemburg; Tretyakov Art Gallery, Moscow; MUAC (The Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo) Mexico City; KIASMA, Museum for Contemporary Art, Helsinki; Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco; Museum of Conteporary Art, Belgrade; and many others.

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