Debates on Division: When Private Becomes Public

by: Gluklya (Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya)

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2014, video (HD), 16’, color, sound, 16:9 | Performance documentation | In Russian with English subtitles | Courtesy: the artist and Manifesta 10

The idea for Debates on Division was developed after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and during the escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The work aims to find a language to articulate and comprehend post-Soviet conditions and the power relations between Russia, the former Soviet states, and the so-called political West after the collapse of Soviet ideology and the acceleration of capitalism in the region. The performance revolves around personal stories of individuals who talk about clothes that have had significance in their lives. Organized as a fictional TV talk show lead by a host, the show also incorporates the commentary of guest experts. It creates a discursive platform for individual voices while reflecting upon the impact of public policy on people’s lives. The format of the performance also creates the conditions for collective analysis of current, local, socio-political conflicts as well as their global implications. The audience is invited to vote whether each of these contemporary sartorial artifacts should enter the collection of the Museum of Utopian Clothes – an ongoing project started by Gluklya in 2012. The performance concludes with a public procession.

Over the last four years, the performance has been conducted in St. Petersburg, Amsterdam, Washington D.C., Oslo, Brussels (upcoming). It has also generated a network of like-minded individuals. The interactive format of the performance proffers a new model for a publiс institution with its own language for political debate and resistance.

Gluklya (Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya) is a pioneer of Russian performance art. She co-founded the artist collective The Factory of Found Clothes (FFC), which uses installation, performance, video, text, and “social research” to develop the concept of “fragility” – relationships between internal and external and private and public. In 2012, the FFC was reformulated as the Utopian Unemployment Union, a project uniting art, social science, and progressive pedagogy that gives people from different social backgrounds the opportunity to make art together. Since 2003, Gluklya has been a co-founding member of Chto Delat? group. Gluklya’s work has been exhibited in Russia and abroad in numerous group shows and solo shows, including Wings of Migrants, Gallery Akinci, Amsterdam (2012); Utopian Unions, MMOMA, Moscow (2013); Reflecting Fashion, MUMOK Vienna, (2013); Hero Mother, Berlin (2016); Feminism is Politics, Pratt Institute, NY (2016); Clothes for Demonstration Against False Election of Vladimir Putin, 56th Venice Biennale (2015).