Rosa’s House of Culture
In Russia, statecraft is criminalised by aggressive laws and state structures, which routinely mobilise the neo-liberal agenda. In such an epoch of eroded publicness, Chto Delat’s Rosa’s House of Culture is invested in constructing counterpublics.
Writing on the subject of counterpublics in Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy, 1990, Nancy Fraser states, “The point is that, in stratified societies, subaltern counterpublics have a dual character. On the one hand, they function as spaces of withdrawal and regroupment; on the other, they function as bases and training grounds for agitational activities directed toward wider publics.”
D.K. Rosy aka Rosa’s House of Culture probes the legacy of the Houses of Culture, a widespread state-supported infrastructure for leisure and education in the former Soviet Union. “How can we reimagine this legacy?” ask the collective.
To realise this research and practice, Chto Delat has invited into their space and process, marginalised leftist collectives including initiatives involving grassroot unions of IT and educational workers, self-organised feminist theatre groups, the sewing co-operative Shvemy and the School of Engaged Art, an educational project which the collective initiated in 2013.
Coming together in a show of solidarity during dark times, these collectives shape and defend their identities, interests, and needs by engaging in a range of activities. By encouraging dialogue between these groups, Chto Delat seeks new ways to approach situations of solidarity and engagement, with the aim of understanding prevailing crisis through critical modes of artistic communication.
Also located on the premises is The Zetkin Library, a distinctive collection of books and ephemera related to art and activism.
Address: Rosa’s House of Culture, Ligovsky Prospect 50 - Build. 12 - Space 110, St. Petersburg, Russia
For programming and event updates visit Chto Delat’s Facebook group here
Chto Delat, St. Petersburg
Chto Delat (What is to be done?), a collective of artists, critics, philosophers and writers, was founded in 2003 in St. Petersburg, Russia, in order to integrate political theory, art and activism. Their activities are coordinated by a core group including Tsaplya Olga Egorova (artist), Artiom Magun (philosopher), Nikolay Oleynikov (artist), Natalia Pershina/Glucklya (artist), Alexey Penzin (philosopher), David Riff (art critic), Alexander Skidan (poet and critic), Oxana Timofeeva (philosopher), Dmitry Vilensky (artist) and Nina Gasteva (choreographer). Chto Delat sees itself as a self-organised platform for a variety of cultural activities intent on politicising “knowledge production” through redefinitions of an engaged autonomy for cultural practice today. It organises art projects, seminars and public campaigns that can take the form of videos, plays, radio programmes, posters and murals. The collective has been publishing the Russian-English newspaper What Is to be Done? since 2003. Recent group exhibitions include ‘Really Useful Knowledge’ (2014-2015) looking into issues around education at the Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid, and ‘Art Turning Left’ (2013-2014) at Tate Liverpool, United Kingdom. www.chtodelat.org
Tsaplya Olga Egorova, St. Petersburg
Tsaplya Olga Egorova is an artist and filmmaker, and co-founder of the Chto Delat collective. Working across formal boundaries her work includes sound, lecture performances, radio plays and theatre performances and songspiels. She was a founder of the feminist group Factory of Found Clothes and participated in many performances and exhibitions with the group. As part of Chto Delat her exhibitions include: ‘Chto Delat? in Baden-Baden’ (2011), Staatliche Kuntsthalle, Baden-Baden, ‘Chto Delat? Perestroika: Twenty Years After: 2011–1991’ (2011), Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, ‘Ostalgia’ (2011), New Museum, New York, ‘Study, Study and Act Again’ (2011), Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana, and ‘The Urgent Need to Struggle’ (2010), Institute of Contemporary Art, London.
Nikolay Oleynikov, Moscow
Nikolay Oleynikov is an artist, activist, member of Chto Delat based in Moscow. He is co-editor of the newspaper Chto Delat?, a member of the editorial board of the Moscow Art Magazine, co-founder of the Learning Film Group and May Congress of Creative Workers. He is also a member of the Arkady Kots band. Since 2013, he has been a tutor at School of Rose, a project initiated by the Chto Delat under the aegis of their pedagogical project School for Engaged Art. He is known for his murals and graphic works within the tradition of the Soviet monumental school, comics, surrealist-like imaginary and punk culture. Oleynikov is author of the book SEX of the OPPRESSED (Moscow, 2013-14).
Dmitry Vilensky, St. Petersburg
Dmitry Vilensky is an artist and educator. He works mostly with collective practices and focuses on developing large-scale architecture constructions, educational seminars, plays, graphic work, and films. Не is a founding member of Chto Delat. Vilensky is also co-editor of the Chto Delat? a bilingual newspaper in Russian and English published by the collective and main facilitator of the School of Engaged Art, a pedagogical project initiated by the collective, in St. Petersburg. He has participated with Chto Delat in their recent exhibitions and performances including the Sao Paulo Biennale (2014), the Summer Festival at Kampnagel, Hamburg (2013), and ‘FORMER WEST: Documents, Constellations, Prospects’ at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (2013), Berlin and the 10th Gwangju Biennale (2012).
Rosa’s House of Culture
Trailer illustrating the events organised by Chto Delat.
Statement regarding change of lease
Since September 24, 2015, Rosa’s House of Culture is forced to stop its public activities in the ArtMuza space. The reason: as we were told in the directorate of ArtMusa, they had received “the signal from the FSB,” and because they are not going to risk their business, they unilaterally broke the lease. Naturally, this is against the law. Comments: Our House of Culture is an educational and cultural centre, which aims at the formation of critical thinking among artists, cultural workers and activists interested in the analysis and the participation in the processes of change in society. An important part of the public programme of the House of Culture have become topical social projects, raising important issues such as the round table of doctors and patients of the closing emergency department on Vasilyevsky Island. We did not do anything illegal – we did not distribute forbidden literature, did not carry out violence and did not call for it, and there are no regulations on the recognition of our activities as extremist or even undesirable. We believe that the termination of the annual lease agreement from the ArtMusa, is an act of self-censorship that permeates our entire society. We decided not to challenge it in court as management cluster has all the capabilities to legally paralyse our public works, which has already started to happen, when the guards of Art Musa allowed themselves rude and incorrect behaviour in relation to the project participants and our guests. Therefore, instead of litigation with ArtMuza we prefer to mobilize our resources to find a new space, and are confident that Rosa’s House of Culture will open in October in a new place with an even more intense and important program.
Text: Chto Delat
Please download the events programme (Download English PDF/Download Russian PDF)
Dmitry Vilensky: Activist Club or On the Concept of Cultural Houses, Social Centers & Museums. What is the Use of Art?, 2015. Download PDF
Various texts and work available to view at http://chtodelat.org