The European Biennial of Contemporary Art

28 June 31 October 2014

St. Petersburg, Russia The State Hermitage Museum


posted on: Oct. 8, 2014, 5:31 p.m.


We would like to welcome you to the first in the M10 Night series for an evening of activities in the General Staff Building of the Hermitage. The theme of the evening is censorship and self-censorship. The program offering a socio-cultural context for viewers to examine MANIFESTA 10 by discussing what censorship/self-censorship means in this region and its impact on the work of artists and arts organizations. The program will include a lecture, special guided tours of the exhibition with M10 art mediators and an interactive game by both local and international artists all based around this theme.
The evening will begin at 17:30 – 18:30 with a lecture by Madina Tlostanova (professor of Philosophy at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration) in the Lectorium of the General Staff Building in Russian and English.

Today’s situation with censorship and self-censorship in the post-Socialist space is a mutation of several models such as the grotesquely exaggerated and often simulated Foucauldian panopticon and the less universally known metaphor of the Estonian poet and philosopher Jaan Kaplinsky who back in 1998 proclaimed the replacement of the Soviet harem with the capitalist brothel instantly turning the post-communist artists into call-girls changing the state as their sole master to the many interchangeable masters of the market. Today the brothel and the harem merge in a strange duet applying both financial and politically repressive disciplining tools and effecting the minds of the artists and intellectuals, and the mechanisms of their self-censorship in various stylistically innovative and Aesopian forms. The very protest against censorship manifested clearly in the case of the preparations for Manifesta 10, is as equivocal as the phenomenon of censorship itself woven into the very web of power of any modern society. In order to understand and fight (self)censorship successfully it is necessary to radically delink from the coloniality of perception and of aesthetics and to problematize the very liberal anti-censorship heresy itself. The most effective art form in this respect is the so-called “slant” (and playful) activism – not a direct confrontation but a trickster positioning of outsmarting the power and overcoming censorship through the essential multiplicity of any interpretation. 
A second event for the evenings is the ‘St. Petersburg Art Kitchen’ a map and interactive game devised by Emily Newman (Russia) and Olga Jitlina (Russia) and illustrated by Yuri Alexandrev. (Duration: 3 hours)

To be an artist in St. Petersburg, as in any city, is a game of snakes and ladders. With structures established during Soviet times still hanging spookily in place, gaudy commercial enterprises embodying the ethos of the nineties, and new institutions which either attempt to obtain support by gaining favor with the governmental powers that be—contradictory, as that may sound—or operate on anarcho-punk principles of total non-alignment, or a more genteel cloistered self-sufficiency—Russia, and St. Petersburg specifically, presents golden opportunities and false doors to artists and arts workers that they won’t find anywhere else! Local artists of several generations—and one foreign artist transplant—have gotten together to produce the map and board game for the Manifesta 10 On Board program. “St Petersburg Art Kitchen,” gives outsiders a playful glimpse of what it would be like to try to follow their chosen professional path in this stucco jungle. We will be ready to play the game with you, and, if you decide to try your luck by relocating to St. Petersburg permanently, the map will be your indispensable guide!