The most revealing instances of this complex intersection of post-communist, post-imperial and post-colonial discourses and imaginaries are to be found not in scholarly publications or official state policies, but rather in the arts, cinema, theater, and fiction.
–Madina Tlostanova, 2012

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. Initiated by cultural studies scholar Ulrike Gerhardt, the project D’EST: A Multi-Curatorial Online Platform for Video Art from the Former ‘East’ and ‘West’ initially kicked off with a prolog entitled O’ Mystical East and West in the autumn of 2016, followed by a curatorial research summit in spring 2018. Over the course of 2018, the online platform published a total of six screening chapters in collaboration with fifteen curators, forty-three artists, and other cultural experts as well as with partner institutions in Germany (Düsseldorf; Berlin), Russia (Moscow), and Poland (Poznań). The D’EST chapters’ thematic focal points delineate post-socialism along post-geographic, horizontal, and feminist perspectives.

The project title D’EST (“From the East”) is borrowed from the eponymous 1993 work of recently deceased filmmaker Chantal Akerman (1950–2015). In From the East’s sensitive, cinematic travelog of transformation, the artist – the daughter of survivors of the Holocaust in Poland – captures emblematic images of women waiting in a moment of hiatus just after the end of the Cold War.

Throughout the year 2018, the online platform introduced mostly female producers and artist collectives, publishing six curated screening chapters that map out feminist and collective forms of post-socialist historiography. These chapters reflect the post-socialist transformation in relation to conceptual paradigms like temporality, language, and semantics, corpo-fictionality and urban cosmetic rejuvenation practices, indexical reading exercises, familial bonds and post-genetic families of choice as well as Eastern futurological experiments of thought. Via deconstructing certain clichées, myths, and stereotypes surrounding ‘the East’ and ‘the West’; the prolog (O’ Mystical East and West, curator: Xandra Popescu) sets the stage for chapter #1, The Suspension and Excess of Time (curators: Kathrin Becker, Jana Seehusen), which reflects anachronical phenomena such as the “feeling of being in transition.” It also sets the stage for chapter #2, Performing Words, Uttering Performance curated by Inga Lāce and the Creative Association of Curators TOK (Anna Bitkina & Maria Veits), which investigates the different performative functions of language before and after the 1990s. Whereas chapter #3, uncovers subcutaneous layers of post-socialist cityscapes (Cosmos Cosmetics: Unresting Memoryscapes and Corpofictions (curators: Miona Bogović, Suza Husse, Suzana Milevska), in chapter #4, the body takes on agency as an indexical tool for reading the visual “pollution of history” since 1989 (The Body as an Indexical Reader, curators: Eva Birkenstock, Ulrike Gerhardt, Naomi Hennig). Shedding light on the lives of children of generations of socialism-builders and welfare state beneficiaries, the second-to-last chapter, #5 We Are Family (curators: Nataša Ilić, Jelena Vesić), concentrates on the notion of family as an extended signifier. Meanwhile, the closing chapter #6, ReTopia (Katja Kobolt, Bettina Knaup), searches for radically different futures.

Participating artists are: Marwa Arsanios, Željka Blakšić aka Gita Blak, Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz, Irina Botea Bucan, Marija Bozinovska Jones, Nicu Ilfoveanu, Anetta Mona Chişa & Lucia Tkáčová, Ioana Cojocariu, Cooperative Shvemy, CORO Collective (Eglė Budvytytė, Goda Budvytytė, Ieva Misevičiūtė), Alexandra Croitoru, Larisa Crunțeanu, Maja Čule, Anna Daučíková, Vukica Đilas, doplgenger, Ira Eduardovna, Factory of Found Clothes, Harun Farocki, Gery Georgieva, Melanie Gilligan, Gluklya (Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya), Lynn Hershman Leeson, Kerstin Honeit, Ana Hušman, Sanja Iveković, Polina Kanis, Barbora Kleinhamplová, Sasha Litvintseva, Maha Maamoun, Goshka Macuga, Lene Markusen, Ivana Mladenović, Marge Monko, Henrike Naumann, Katrīna Neiburga, Ilona Németh, Katrin Nenasheva, Phuong Linh Nguyen, Rachel O’Reilly, Sasha Pirogova, Renata Poljak, Marta Popivoda & Ana Vujanović, Eglė Rakauskaitė, Tabita Rezaire, Anca Munteanu Rimnic, Józef Robakowski, Ulrike Rosenbach, Elske Rosenfeld, belit sağ, Selma Selman, Shelly Silver, The Bureau of Melodramatic Research, Clarissa Thieme, Milica Tomić, and Katrin Winkler.

Participating curators are: Kathrin Becker, Eva Birkenstock, Miona Bogović, Ulrike Gerhardt, Naomi Hennig, Suza Husse, Nataša Ilić, Bettina Knaup, Katja Kobolt, Inga Lāce, Suzana Milevska, Xandra Popescu, Jana Seehusen, Creative Association of Curators TOK (Anna Bitkina & Maria Veits), and Jelena Vesić.

All video works and texts of the chapters D’EST Prolog: O’Mystical East and West, The Suspension and Excess of Time (#1), Performing Words, Uttering Performance (#2), Cosmos Cosmetics: Unresting Memoryscapes and Corpofictions (#3), The Body as an Indexical Reader (#4), We Are Family (#5) and ReTopia (#6) are accessible online until the end of 2020. For 2019 and 2020, D’EST’s closed selection of artists and chapters has received worldwide invitations for further exhibition. Therefore, the curatorial approaches and their thematic focal points will be expanding further, leading to new screening events in Tallinn, Belgrade, Plovdiv, and elsewhere. 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.

D’EST: A Multi-Curatorial Online Platform for Video Art from the Former ‘East’ and ‘West’ is a project initiated by Ulrike Gerhardt with DISTRICT Berlin. D’EST is hosted in cooperation with the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA); the Goethe Institute Moscow; the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf; Filmwerkstatt Düsseldorf; the Galeria Miejska Arsenał, Poznań; Pawilon, Poznań; and the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein Video-Forum. This project was made possible through the generous support of the Senate Chancellery Berlin – Department of Culture.

Team

  • Andrea Caroline Keppler

    Andrea Caroline Keppler is the project manager and co-curator of District Berlin. She holds an M.A. in history of art and cultural studies (University of Leipzig and University of Rome “La Sapienza”). In her career, she has worked at ZKM Karlsruhe, at Institut Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt, at Raussmüller Collection Basel, and Hallen für Neue Kunst in Schaffhausen. She curated the exhibition projects Trümmerberg Kilimanjaro (2016) and Art of the Revolt // The Revolt of Art (2018) among others. She is co-initiator of the intersectional alliance Decolonizing 68 and Feminist Curating. Her current interest lies in the artistic examination of the political and cultural visions and discourses of the 1960s.

  • Dana Andrei

    Dana Andrei worked as a research assistant for D’EST Prologue: O’ Mystical East and West until July 2016. She was part of the team for the curatorial program Salonul de Proiecte (initiated by Alexandra Croitoru and Magda Radu, together with Ștefan Sava) between 2012 and 2015 and has been collaborating in various forms with the curatorial team of Atelier 35 (Xandra Popescu and Larisa Crunțeanu) since 2015. She is the editor of the publications Dear Money and In Search of the Social Body of the Soviet Artist by Tatiana Fiodorova. Together with Sorin Popescu and Raluca Voinea, she is the founder and editor of Corner Magazine.

  • Johanna Ekenhorst

    Johanna Ekenhorst is a student of Art History and English Cultural Studies at the University of Leipzig, currently writing her BA thesis on the reception of Afghan War Rugs carrying 9/11 imagery. In 2015 she was involved in Henrike Naumann’s project The Museum of Trance. During her studies she co-curated the supporting program of the 91st Kunsthistorischer Studierendenkongress 2016 in Leipzig under the title Vermeintlich anders – Das Fremde in der Kunst and assisted in the inaugural edition of Shanghai Project, a multidisciplinary ideas platform organized by Shanghai Himalayas Museum. Since 2017, she has worked at District Berlin as its public relations manager, as head of communication for D’EST and as an assistant for Discoteca Flaming Star.

  • Madalena B. Guerra

    Madalena B. Guerra is a Portuguese graphic designer. Based in Lisbon, her practice works between Lisbon, London, and Berlin with a wide range of people and small businesses from the fields of art, architecture, film, and culture. Past and current collaborations include projects with curator Marta Jecu, fashion label Wool and the Gang, Modem Studio, Jenny Sabin Studio, uncube magazine, and Barnbrook Studio. She studied communication design and new media at University of Fine Arts in Lisbon (B.A. 2010 and M.A. 2013) and graduated with a thesis entitled Open Work: Alienation as a Form of Critical Discourse for Communication Design. She is currently organizing an artist-in-residence summer program in Portugal and, starting 2018, is working as a Modem Studio member for D’EST.

    www.modem.ws
  • Naomi Hennig

    Naomi Hennig lives in Berlin, where she works as researcher, artist, curator, editor, and project coordinator for D’EST. She graduated from ECA Edinburgh and UdK Berlin and has since been involved in a number of artist-run initiatives. She collaborated in curatorial projects including an exhibition on the Artist Placement Group (APG) with Ulrike Jordan, presented at Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, Berlin, and Summerhall, Edinburgh (2015/16). She co-curated the research and exhibition project Spaceship Yugoslavia at nGbK Berlin in 2012. Between 2013 and 2015, she organized the exhibition program at Galerie im Turm. Her artistic and curatorial research revolves around the memorialization of political micro-histories, as well as the relationships of place, history, ecology, and economy.

    www.naomihennig.com
  • Pieterjan Grandry

    Pieterjan Grandry is a Belgian graphic designer living and working in Berlin. His office, Modem Studio, works for a wide range of international clients and operates in the fields of print and web design. Next to his practice as graphic designer, Pieterjan founded Crap is Good, a blog dedicated to documenting and describing contemporary visual culture by focusing on non-client-based experimental work. The blog extends into publishing, issuing under the name Crap is Good Press. He also founded the t-shirt label ‘yoshimi’, is co-founder of architecture collective ‘Collective Disaster’ and created the D’EST website.

    www.modem.ws
  • Selene States

    Selene States is an artist, translator and editor for D’EST. She studied fine art, art history, theater and film studies at UC Berkeley, University of Heidelberg, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, UCLA and State Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe. Her PhD in art and design at the Bauhaus University draws on practice-based approaches to dress studies and proposes the design and exhibition of an ‘authentic’ collection of modernist women’s pants from the interwar period. Her study of retro-nostalgic artifacts and narratives extends to States’ feminist performance, video, and installation practice, exhibited at the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, l’Aubette Strasbourg, Milton Keynes Gallery among others.

    selenestates.com
  • Suza Husse

    Suza Husse is interested in queer, feminist, and decolonial approaches to bodies, socialities, ecologies, and histories. Since 2012, she has been working as the artistic director of the interdisciplinary art space District Berlin with an emphasis on artistic research, collaborative practices, public space, critical education, and political imagination. In 2016 she co-founded the experimental publishing collective The Many Headed Hydra with artist Emma Haugh. She is currently a guest professor at the University of Arts Berlin where she initiated Sister Stones and Blocks of Anger. Queer Petrographies – a collective artistic inquiry into diasporic rocks in Berlin.

  • Ulrike Gerhardt

    Ulrike Gerhardt is the artistic director of D’EST. As a cultural studies scholar and curator, she is currently researching cultural memory concerning post-socialist transformation within the framework of her PhD project Easternfuturist Memory: Morphologies of the Transformation in Postsocialist Video Art. For this, she is analyzing the ways in which video works by female artists and collectives of the “generation transformation” deal with the experiences of Perestroika, migration, globalization, ecosystems of damage and indexical landscapes after 1989 / 1991. Her writings have appeared in WHEN THE SEA LOOKS BACK. A Serpent’s Tale. The Many Headed Hydra #02 (edited by Suza Husse and Emma Haugh), Skulptur Projekte Münster 2017 – Out of Time Magazine, ARTMargins Online, feministische studien blog, Camera Austria, among others.

    leuphana.academia.edu/UlrikeGerhardt
  • Vlad Anghel

    Vlad Anghel was the assistant curator and co-producer of D’EST Prologue: O’ Mystical East and West (2016) and works as a multidisciplinary artist in Berlin and Bucharest. His practice is located at the intersection between art, design and technology. He studied Cybernetics, Statistics and Economic Informatics at the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest. In his work, he often appropriates obsolete 3-D aesthetics as well as surrealist references and creates virtual environments that can be described as magical realism.

    vladanghel.com
  • Xandra Popescu

    Xandra Popescu is the curator and producer of the screening chapter and initial website D’EST Prolog: O’ Mystical East and West (2016). She works as a writer, filmmaker, and curator in Berlin and Bucharest. From 2012 to 2016, together with Larisa Crunțeanu she led Atelier 35, one of the most active project spaces in Bucharest. She has a background in political science and philosophy and studied dramatic writing at the National Film and Theater University in Bucharest. Popescu has written for cinema and works as a filmmaker at the intersection of the narrative and the visual. Currently she is in the process of setting up Eroika, a production framework for female artists and directors from the former East.

    www.xandrapopescu.com