Nils Claesson on Sun, 11 Jun 2000 22:05:16 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> minsk connection report

>From 27-28 september, the Stockholm artist run media lab Crac arranged a
seminar called the MINSK CONNECTION. One of the partcipants was Olga
Kopenkina. Olga is a curator, studying in New-york with a background as
curator in Minsk. More info about Minsk-Connection will be published. 
Here is Olgas report. 



Minsk connection

I have to confess that going to Stockholm for the seminar Minsk
Connection, I was afraid to meet the prejudices which reconstitute the old
opposition between the West and East. The seminar Minsk Connection aimed
at the discovery of a new territory on the artistic map of Europe and
could be taken to be in the same line with other events which in a bid for
politically correct equilibrium pay attention to the Eastern Europe. In my
mind, the exhibition "Interpol" in 1997 in Stockholm where the Russian and
Swedish artists had a violent experience of misunderstanding was stuck as
a strong caution, and I expected the same provocation of the East by West
and vica verse. But Minsk Connection - perhaps due to its character of
improvisation, or individual networking which had basically made it
possible - developed into the real interaction between the artists that
promised to turn into a real network. 

We always dream about a great form of communication, without a border,
center and polarities, that could perfectly fit to idea of integration in
after-the-wall -condition. But even after the collapse of Berlin Wall, we
realize that transparent borders still exist and apparently can stimulate
conditions for a dialogue. The artists and curators now have a chance to
create a real network of interchanges to continue their analysis of the
tensions within the artistic map of Europe: the more misunderstanding the
more interests to the other and issues for discussions. 

The main theme of the seminar suggested by Crac was professional
interaction and networking. It was interesting to observe the two
different models of network: the network in Belarussian way implies the
model of artists' survival, rather existential than professional, rather
hermetically closed, than internationally diverse. Crac suggests the
artists network based on the modern technologies and professional
collaboration. It seems to be the same model of survival but with the
homage to professionalization and the net activity. 

The presentations of individual art projects were the most interesting
part of the seminar. The high-tech post -media art generation of Swedish
artists have met the low equipped artists from Minsk which demonstrated
the pre-tech stage of media evolution in Belarussian art. The result was
the fact that the range of the projects presented during the seminar
varied from the absolutely autist "Bionaturland" by Victor Petrov and
Denis Romanovski to the interactive and the net projects and the projects
of databases introduced by the Sweden. 

However, technological difference of the Belarussian and Swedish ways of
art production had been beaten by the similarities of the artistic ideas
and intentions. There were several points in the seminar where the Swedish
and Belarussian artists has overlapped. The discussians were fluctuating
between the body politics and artist's physical identity on the one hand,
and the net projects denying any site specificity and artist's presence,
on another.  For instance, the performance by Susanna Akerlund from "Su-En
Buto Company"  and "Nordic Dumplings" group ("Verydiscovery") have
provoked discussions about the body' s capability to be a site for
revealing the physical, political and social issues, and have drawn
comparisions with Galina Moskaleva's photo-sequence "Self-Awareness" made
in Chernobyl. Anders Boqvist's project "The Mazda 323", a database
containing the stories on the various Mazda cars found in internet,
introduced a model of art project based on the play with new information
technologies - the tendency which Belarussian art definitely lacks.
Nevertheless, Boqvist's project could be compared with the archive of
Minsk Association of Contemporary Art presented in the first day of the
seminar: both projects propose the same scheme of transforming the
physical identity into the electronic database. Nomada's and Gediminas
Urbonas' (Lithuania) web site project, "tvvv.plotas", featured another
model of contemporary artist as an ethnograph who interviews people during
the big event of contermporary art. The Lithuanian artists suggest instead
a database, a live report "from the street" which is typical for the newly
independent Eastern Europe in its reflection on the internet as a site for
real communication and social interaction. 

Nils Claesson's video project "Propaganda of Swedish families archives" 
proved the fact that the domestic rituals which seems never to change,
could introduce the essence of national identity to the other. This
project corresponded to the strategy of Belarussian artists who explore
their own identity through the photo footage from the familial albums by
combining the history of the personal and collective (Galina Moskaleva's
photo series "Reminiscences of the Childhood"). 

Karin Hansson's presentation of <a:t> project had turned into the
discussions about real space and time for contemporary art and reappeared
in the presentation of Minsk Association of Contemporary Art by Denis
Romanovski and Arthur Klinov who understand artists networks as a place
where the local community gets its destination. But if an art event can
happen in a virtual space, do we still need to be attached to the local
space and community? 

About importance of time and timing instead of location and fixed exposure
was the interactive project by Anita Malmqvist: she offers to anybody her
personal time during of which she keeps her big thumbs in the ritual of
wishing you luck. Maybe this is a metaphor of those forms of network what
we are looking for: I don't know what you're doing but you are present in
my time, and it affects my life wherever I am. 

Olga Kopenkina

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