Nomadic video art festival and online archive

D’EST is a nomadic platform and online archive for video art, experimental and documentary film that maps artistic forms of historiography at the intersection of postsocialist, queer-feminist and decolonial narratives and imaginaries. It is run by the art space and community center District*School Without Center in collaboration with international curators, artists, cultural workers, researchers and activists. Since 2016, in collaboration with 25 curators, 69 artists and collectives, and numerous cultural practitioners, D’EST has published a total of soon-to-be 10 thematic video art chapters reflecting on the post-socialist transformation after 1989/91, which have been received in more than 30 screenings, events, exhibitions, publications, biennial and festival contributions, etc across Europe.

“The queerness of postsocialisms, in our sense, is that they are propelled by political desires that do not aim to reproduce capitalist reality [...]. We may not even yet know what these radical political desires move toward. This is part of their queerness.”

(Re)thinking Postsocialism: Interview with Neda Atanasoski and Kalindi Vora, in: Feminist Critique: East European Journal of Feminist and Queer Studies #3, 2020, p. 91–111, here: p. 95.

Image: Chantal Akerman, D’Est, 1993.

WHERE does our name come from?

Questions about the significance of the phase of post-socialist transformation for today’s pan-European or even global condition have met with unsatisfactory answers. Our project title is borrowed from the eponymous 1993 work of the filmmaker Chantal Akerman: D’Est (engl. From The East, 1993). In D’Est’s cinematic travelog of transformation, the artist – the daughter of survivors of the Holocaust in Poland – captures emblematic images of people waiting in a moment of hiatus just after the end of the Cold War. At the same time, D’Est can also be read as a journey through the landscapes and geographies of Eastern Europe haunted by the disappeared Jewish communities. From 2023 onwards, D’EST’s feminist, queer and decolonial curatorship confronts the intersectional oppressions as well as the geopolitical and capitalist paradigms that run through the political territories, cultures, ecologies and modernities shaped by the Cold War.

“What I do when I make a movie: I want the people to experience time in their body. That is very important for me.”

Chantal Akerman, Guest lecture, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design Jerusalem, 26.11.2013. Watch here.

Image: Ilona Németh, The Fog, 2013. Video still, public performance documentation, 5’20’’, color, environmental sound, 16:9, courtesy: the artist

CYCLE 1: Former “East”, Former “West”

In collaboration with numerous arts and cultural organizations in Germany, Romania, Lithuania, Russia, Estonia, Poland, Serbia, and the Czech Republic, the first cycle of D’EST focused on illuminating post-socialism from feminist and post-geographical perspectives of the former “East” and the former “West” in and beyond a European context, with an emphasis on undoing its polarities. From this, D’EST emerged as a collective structure of actors belonging to self-organized queer, feminist, and anti-racist networks of various countries (including Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom) and contributes to their networking and strengthening to this day.

CYCLE 2: Postsocialism as Method. Anti-Geographies of Collective Desires 

The first three chapters of cycle #2 trace rarely told stories from the Cold War from Central Asia, Vietnam, North Africa and West Asia and their creolizations in postmigrant Germany and Europe. The curated intermedial constellations interconnect socialist imaginaries and life worlds from different and sometimes contradictory situated geographies that continued or emerged despite coloniality, totalitarianism and capitalism. In 2023, D’EST will be launching three new chapters, this time curated by the collectives krёlex zentre, Nhà Sàn Collective, and Fehras Publishing Practices. Aziza Kadyri together with Kim Bode/NAILS*hacks facts fictions developed the Ciné Moon Mobile, a roaming habitat with video station and bar.

Image: Síu Phạm, Sing an Idle song, 2019.

“So we say something about creolization and cartography, emergence and autopoiesis, transversality and micropolitics, erratica and erotica.”


HOW to connect

From these continuously multiplying connections and alliances, critical and intersectional knowledge and cultural production on post-socialism, gender, coloniality and ecologies has been emerging for years. Please visit our Program page to follow future screening destinations for our online platform. Programmed by Modem Studio, the platform serves as an artistic space, research tool, and information resource for art connoisseurs, institutionally based and freelance curators, artists, historians, journalists, and critics. To be able to see all content available on the website, visitors will first have to register with the site.

If you are interested in our project, please register with our website or sign up below for the regular newsletter.