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Boris Ryzhy – The unwilling survivor

Category: by sophie engström, movies, poetry, russia
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How do you describe a suicide, what it implies in loses and sorrow for people close to you? How do you describe the devastating emptiness and hopelessness that the survivors need to live with? I would say that in many aspects it is not possible, but if you have an interest in understanding, without exploiting, there are a possibility that you will be able to describe both the cruelty in being left behind, and how survivors find their way out from the labyrinth of sorrow.

In the documentary Boris Ryzhy, about the poet with the same name, made by the dutch filmmaker Aliona van der Horst, you can actually feel the sorrow in your own breath while watching it. van der Horst has managed to find the special situations, when words has no use and life itself seems to be more grim than ever.

In the introduction we see a woman wondering around in a suburn district. She is trying to get a hold on somebody that knew Boris Ryzhy. After being reprimanded by a babushka, she finally finds somebody that wants to help her and let her enter a staircase in one of the houses. The woman explains that she and her brother lived in this house when they were small. She starts to ring the door bell to the first flat in the house. She does not present herself to the lady that opens the door, but tells her about the film that Ailona van der Horst is making. She says it is a film about her brother, the poet Boris Ryzhy. She asks the old lady if she remember him, and the old lady does not remember him. The woman, the sister of Ryzhy, starts to recite a poem that Boris Ryzhy wrote, but her voice cracks, and finally she starts to cry. The woman that opened the door starts immediately to ask her about why she is crying: “Is he dead? What happened to your brother?” she asks. “He is dead. He committed suicide”, answers the sister. I believe most spectators literary can feels the pain in her voice.


The trailer for the documentary by Boris Ryzhy by Aliona van der Horst.

The documentary then continues with, as it seems, an endless desire to try to understand why Boris Ryzhy decided to end his own life. Was it because many of his friends died already? Was it because he and all his friends lived in a violent world, with gangsters that lacked empathy for suffering? Did he feel alienated or was he just a mad genius that took suicide as a desperate wish to be accepted as a poet? Aliona van der Horst investigate and gets self-disclosure and fearless help from Boris Ryzhy’s family – the wife, son, sister and mother. But even so, she never comes close to explain why, except that it is necessary to accept the unacceptable. The death of somebody you love. This is however not a failure by van der Horst, but actually a strength to a story, that could have became extremely pathetic if it was made in a less intelligent way. To tell the truth, this is actually one of the best documentaries I have ever seen, and I have seen quite a few.

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Boris Ryzhy, born in 1974, grow up in Yekaterinburg. His family was well-educated family and his father was a geologist, unknown what his mother did, though. When he was rather small his family moved to a rough area in Yekaterinburg. There Boris had to learn how to survive in the tough environment. He started to boxing in the same age as writing poems (14 years old) and violence and poetry seems to be utterly connected for him. Boris Ryzhy’s poems often depict and describe the neighbourhood that he and his sister grow up in. It seems like he never left the area in his soul. One of his very old friends, that Aliona van der Horst managed to track down, describes Boris as rootless and very lonely man, even though so many loved him.

Boris Ryzhy committed suicide by hanging in May 2001, 26 years old. It is impossible to tell how his talent would develop, because his poems mostly describe the Jelstin years during 1990s. How crime and gangesters are more usual than ordinary jobs and loving and caring situations. Even so, Boris Ryzhy was not a gangster all though, but was also a PhD in Geophysics.


The poem “Show me, Gypsy woman” read by Boris Ryzhy.

In the documentary it is perhaps Boris Ryzhy’s wife that says the most devastating words. She tells about her and Boris childhood, how they were encouraged to believe in the communist future, and they thought they lived in the perfect socialist society. But when they finish school in 1991, the Soviet Empire fell apart. It didn’t come as any surprise for them, but after the fall of the empire, the “first generation of perestroika” was abandoned by the society itself. The only way that far too many saw, was the road of criminality. “We are the generation of body guards”, she says when she stands at Boris grave at the cemetery, and around her we see hundreds of graves for young men born in the beginning of 70s that dead in the mid 90s.

It is obvious that Boris Ryzhy felt as a survivor, and to survive in this “war”, like one of his friends remarks in the documentary, is “a shameful business”. We can only hope that Boris Ryzhy’s legacy will survive, because his poems is not only violent but alos beautiful. And they are a legacy from a time that we all must try to prevent to return.

If you want to read Boris Ryzhy in English you can find some here.

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Dza in London at RBMA

Category: by sophie engström, music, russia
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The annual Red Bull Music Academy in London has just finished and one of the participants was Sasha Dza, the how2make frontier that previously been highlighted here at viewpoint-east.org. So I connected to him, in London, to ask about impressions from the two weeks long experience at RBMA.

Dza – † Dance With Me ( preview ) by DZA

Sasha Dza: RBMA is a really heavy and nice experience for all participants. Every time, when I’d meet some one who has been a participant at RBMA before, they have told me to remember only one thing, Get a lot of sleep before academy! Because while you are there you will not get any sleep in two weeks!. And that was really true! Every day implies intensive studio work, lectures and live chatin’ with famous musicians like Hudson Mohawke, Roots Manuva, Busy P, Dj Zink, Marco Passarani, FlyLo (Flying Lotus) and many more.

It was also very cool to collaborated with another participants, such as Ad Bourk, Homeless Inc., Los Macuanos, Nando Pro and Hudson Mohawke. This guys gave me crazy energy and new inspiration!

RBMA has finished last week, but I have stayed in London for a few day to enjoy new places, museums and people.


Photo: Dan Wilton

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Alexander Lukashenko loves Sweden

Category: belarus, by sophie engström, sociala medier, web 2.0
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Alexander Lukashenko has a political reputation that few wants to be confused with, and one can think that also Swedish politicians would try to avoid being confused with his ideas of running a country. But unwillingly the Swedish government has got a new fan, and perhaps a fan they never wanted to have, and that is, again, Alexander Lukashenko.


Alexander Lukashenko from wiki

Recently the Swedish Minister of Justice, Beatrice Ask, got a request from Alexander Lukashenko, where he asks her to start an exchange project, where Belarus government can learn more about how to reduce economic crime on Internet. I am however sure that this is not Alexander Lukashenko real intentions. Sweden did more than a year introduce the FRA law, that actually gives a certain department the right to track and read all emails and sms’ that crosses the border. The idea is to try to track down terrorists, which of course is complete nonsense. Sweden has a long tradition of tracking its own citizens. (It is no wonder we are the land of accurate statistics on all the moves the citizens takes.) Many in the Swedish piracy movement interpets this as a new way to violate human rights in Sweden (and other countries), and also because FRA can sell the information to anybody they want to!

I am pretty sure Alexander Lukashenko understand how the Swedish government can use all the information they track from the email and sms’ that crosses the border. (To be clear: all emails in Sweden cross the borders. Servers have a very unpatriotic style and don’t really care which server it communicates with, inside or outside Sweden, the server never care.)

It is however very easy for me to be ironic, sitting here in a country with freedom of speech, but I am really worried that this interest of Alexander Lukashenko in Internet, is more and more threatening all activity on Internet in Belarus. And outside the borders! I think it is high time that we, the blogging swarm that wants to help the citizens of Belarus to get freedom of speech and a free internet, to speaks up! At least I will do all in my power to try to high light all this crimes against human rights!

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One-year anniversary of Ukraine’s first Gender museum

Category: by sophie engström, gender, ukraine
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Today, 3 of March, it is one year since the first Museum of women’s history,
history of women’s and gender movement in Ukraine
opened. I wanted to highlight this and asked the museum’s guiding star and director Tetiana Isaieva a couple of questions.

gmuseum

How did it all start?
The idea to create the museum emerged in 2006, after a group of Ukrainian journalists had visited Sweden with the Gender Program «Olga&Oleg», (this project was supported by SIDA). The group studied gender situation and gender equality in Sweden. The visit resulted in a first exhibition and we began to look for new ones. In 2006 we was not sure we could realize our idea about a museum. It just didn’t feel realistic, but we started to search for other gender museums in Europe and around the world. We investigated how other museums worked and what kind of projects they implement.

We have many who support our idea, and also some financially. Olena Suslova, Gender coordinator at the Ukrainian parlament, supported our idea and initiated to put the first brick. We got 100 UA (Ukrainian grivnes which is little bit more than 10 €). We understood that we could not make any exhibition from that contribution alone, but it was a responsibility, a start!
Also The Program “Equal Opportunities and Women’s Rights in Ukraine” supported our project and provided an opportunity to present our project to a larger audience in September 2008, within the Project «Exhibition of gender ideas and projects». In 2008 we could show our colleagues our collection of pictures.

In March 2008 our project was supported by the Global Fund for Women. Global Fund for women is one of the funds which support women’s initiatives around the world. And our first exhibition was presented in Kharkiv, on the 3d of March 2009 in Kharkiv national university within the Study Program for the directors of the gender resource and study centers in different regions of Ukraine.

Larisa Kobelanska – the Head of the Program “Equal Opportunities and Women’s Rights in Ukraine”, also assisted us to come up with the name for our project name: «Let’s create a Museum about us!».

Could you describe your activities?
We gather information about women and men, gender theories and practice, which shows ideas of gender in Ukrainian society. There are many different points of view on roles of women and men in our society of course. The traditional roles for women are mothers and wives, keeper of family. But I am sure that in in many years from now these roles may have changed a lot. One important question for us is that women have to have equal rights and possibilities in all spheres of life. During 2009 we created four panoramas of social feminine and masculine roles and twelve new exhibitions. For exemple, the history of women’s, feminist and gender movement, domestic violence, masculine problems. These and many other exhibitions will be exhibited at our museum. We will also tell about female solidarity and women’s and gender movements. We want to show that gender problems are not only problems for women but the problems of the whole society. One of the exhibitions is devoted to «Stop sexism!». We hope that in a few years we will be able to see sexist advertisements only at the gender museum.

What do you exhibit at you museum? How does it work?
Our collection consists of more than 350 items, such as pictures, study books, films, interviews, CDs and DVDs, different documents, souvenirs, children toys and books, the post cards and envelopes, household goods, such as “easy labor of women”, and even personal things from gender activists. We have some art projects too, «Gender in pictures», «Women’s face of Ukraine», «Fеmіnіsm is…», «Gender in children eyes», «Children against violence».

Ukraine has chosen the course to the democratic changes and we are looking for our own way to solve the gender equality. The «Law of Ukraine of equal rights and possibilities for women and men» (2005) and Government Program of gender equality (2006) are items at our museum. The government are implementing gender perspective in Ukraine but changes are rather slow. Nevertheless stereotyped ideas about social feminine and masculine roles continue to remain in society consciousness. Even in new books you can see stereotyped pictures of women and men.

We also tries to gather items about gender situation, about women’s movement in different countries. We are extremely grateful to our friends from Germany, Georgia, Sweden, USA, Italy, Lithuania, Korea and Vietnam.
We have created an Internet portal. And it is one of the most powerful Internet gender resources in Ukraine. We have a virtual version of our museum and a Gender Channel. Here we gather films, video materials, interviews and other pieces of information concerning.

What is your hopes and wishes for the future?
We are looking for new items to exhibit and conduct PR and fundraising campaigns for our project. We hope that the creation of the museum will increase the cultural connections between Ukraine and other countries, it will consolidate the women’s movement, attract journalists attention and the whole society towards gender issues.

In April 2009 we visited Frauenmuseum Bonn. We were invited to participate in the second International Congress of women’s museums and to get in touch with representatives from women’s museums in different countries. In September we presented our project at the Congress in Bonn and since then our museum is the member of the network of International women’s museums.

In autumn 2009 we prepared two exhibitions, devoted International action “16 days against gender violence” (2009, November) and exhibition “White on white”, devoted to International day of solidarity of women and unknown pages of women’s history of Ukraine (2010, March).

We are writing our own history, and also rewriting history as it has been perceived. Our society has to travel long until we reach a situation where women’s right are fully respected, but this is a start. We also think it is very important to show young generations how ideas about stereotypes are realized in our society and we hope to be able to create a consciousness about this through or exhibitions.

And last I would like to make an invitation: The First Gender Museum in Ukraine invites everyone for cooperation and interaction! And please, pass this information to your colleagues and partners! Become a participant of the project «Let us create a Museum about us!».

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Jämställdhet inte fokus efter ukrainsk presidentval

Category: by sophie engström, ukraine
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Även om orangea revolutionen inte präglades av en alltför tydlig strävan att förändra den ukrainska genusordningen, är nog de flesta överens om att förra presidenten, Viktor Jusjenko, visade mer tydlig vilja att förändra en förlegad syn på kvinnor och mäns livsuppgifter än hans efterträdare namne Janukovitj. (Läs mer om orange revolutionen och synen på genus.) För många innebär Janukovitj tillträde som president inte enbart ett närmande till Ryssland, utan också att en känd jämställdhetsmotståndare kommer till makten. Dessutom går det rykten att hans fängelsedom från 1967 innehöll anklagelser om våldtäkts. (Detta har i efterhand inte kunnat bevisas av hans politiska motståndare eller journalister.)

Känt är i alla fall att han inte föredrar kvinnor som gör karriär, och det är inte troligt att han kommer att eftersträva att Ukrainas jämställdhetslag efterlevs. Lagen skrevs under redan 2005 av avgående presidenten Jusjenko, och är enligt många ett ukrainskt försök att närma sig en europeisk värdegrund, där jämställdhet är en del av mänskliga rättigheter för att befordrar den demokratiska utvecklingen.

Förre presidenten manade dessutom inledningsvis på ett mer jämställt Ukraina, då det skulle leda till en bättre ekonomi. Han pekade till och med på länder som Sverige, och sa att ett välfärdssamhälle aldrig skulle vara möjlighet utan jämställdhet!

Men nu låter det som om allt är bara en dans på röda rosor och att Ukraina nu förlorar sin bäste förkämpe för kvinnors rättigheter. Då ska man inte glömma att Jusjenko var Tymosjenkos värsta kritiker och en av orsakerna till att hon inte valdes till president. (Det är klart att Tymosjenko inte är en jämställdhetsförespråkare, men kan någon verkligen tro att hon skulle ha en ärlig chans om hon sa att hon vore det?)


Tymosjenko i februari 2005. Som synes var det mest män i kabinettet då… Och det har inte förändrats nämnvärt.
Bild uppladdad av Sashazlv
.

Maria Alekseyenko på Women’s Consortium of Ukraine menar att Tymosjenko i alla fall kan vara en förebild för andra kvinnor, och att det skulle kunna underlätta för ukrainska kvinnor att göra karriär om de hade sådan förebilder. Samma organisation, Women’s Consortium of Ukraine, skickade även ut ett frågeformulär med nio ynkliga frågor till alla presidentkandidater i första valomgången. (Ukraina hade i detta val två valomgångar och den första innehåller alltid fler än två kandidater.) Frågorna handlade om hur kandidaterna såg på jämställdhet och genus.

– Det var tydligt att det var en icke-fråga i valet, för bara en svarade, säger Maria. Det svaret var ett riktigt “Goddag Yxskaft”-svar, författat av någon mindre kunnig assistent.

Så om vi ska se några förbättringar på jämställdhetsområdet i Ukraina under de närmaste fem åren, så lär det inte komma från presidenten. Men det är uppenbart att många NGOs, inklusive Women’s Consortium of Ukraine, inte tänker sluta sitt enträgna förändringsarbete.

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Yuriy Zmorovych: “An avantgardist should always be in opposition to the norm”

Category: art, avantgarde, by sophie engström, music, theatre, ukraine
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Read the Swedish version here.

What is avantgarde? I ask myself while sitting with avant-garde sculptor, musician, poet and theatre man Yuriy Zmorovych in his chaotic but very cozy studio in central Kyiv. Books, sculptures, self-made instruments, videotapes, DVDs and vinyl records are stacked in a very wayward regime only known by Yuriy. How should I manage to explain the greatness, humor and the presence of this man’s work, by just using some few words? I ask myself further. For many the term avant-garde have elitistic, pretentious and even obsolete conjections. But Yuriy Zmorovychs avantgarde do not fit into this description. His avantgarde expression is playful, intelligence which feels current and contemporary, without being pretentious. It must be the humor that is key to, I think, for Yuriy has no problem laughing captivating when he talks about his own creations and ideas.

ЮРИЙ ЗМОРОВИЧ / YURIY ZMOROVYCH

ЮРИЙ ЗМОРОВИЧ / YURIY ZMOROVYCH

Yuriy Zmorovych has a great production. He began his career as an improviser in early 1970s. And in the early 1980s, he met the Russian musician and avantgardist Sergei Letov. This meeting has led to several collaborations, but in the beginning it was actually mainly film-making and Yuriy made two films together with Letov, improvised on the theme of creation.

In the 1990s he started to work with international artists and one of the more memorable was when he worked with the French group improvisation ARFI. (ARFI stands for Association à la recherche d’un Folklore imaginaire.) In a few weeks in August 1991 they played on a river boat that went from Kiev to Odessa. Between their improvisations, they all sat like glued in front of the radio and listened to the reports on events from Moscow. It was the time when the Soviet Union fell apart.

In constant opposition
For Yuriy, this was symbolic. He went on his river boat and broke new ground, or traveling in new waters, with avantgarde musicians who had similar views on the creation of his own. And in then same time Soviet Union came to an end. For him, avantgarde must constantly stands in opposition to the norm, fighting oppression and those who exercise power.

It was never easy to be improvisational in the Soviet Union, he says, adding that it is of course much easier for young people today to choose that path. Jazz was, for example, prohibited, and he tells emphatically how he, after several years of searching, found “A Drum Is a Woman” by Duke Ellington on a black market in Odessa.

– Duke Ellington had a great spontaneity and it has always been fruitful for my own creativity. But since I came into improvised jazz and avant-garde, I must admit that I abandoned him to others. Along with the Dadaism and Malevich, Ellington are my icons, Yuriy implies.

Yuriy would not want to notify other sources of inspiration, and responds that it could be anything. The rain, a cat jamar, no talking, cars driving along the street, or an internal flow.

The key to the avantgarde expression, according to Yuriy to listen to the spontaneous creative process, to dare to open the doors to the inner voice and not be afraid of what you hear, and the second cornerstone of the avantgarde expression is that always stand in opposition against the norm. This expression is found in the inner voice if you just listen, he says.

His untuned piano was a great beginning
Already in the beginning, in 1970s, his drive was to create a kind of noise generator or stream from the innermost of the soul and the body. He says that he therefor began to play on an untuned piano. An excellent choice, Yuriy implies.

– In my ears it sounded accurate, of course, he laughs.

YURIY ZMOROVYCH

YURIY ZMOROVYCH

By then he started to build his own instruments. The material was everything he found around him. Metal, plastic, cloth, paper, combined with a guitar string can make miracles.

– Like this, he says and picks up an old plastic bottle with a round hole in the middle. Through the plastic bottle, he has strained a guitar string. When he plays on the string, while screws on the cap, it sounds actually strangely surreal.

Avantgarde theater
In the 1990s Yuriy had the opportunity to become the creative leader for avantgarde theater Teatr AA. His partner was Olexandr Nesterov (link in Ukrainian), a legendary avantgarde guitarist and composer who dead in 2005. They worked with both amateur and professional actors. Important for the project was to lead the actors to learn to play instruments, and to act spontaneously, to improvise. This was not always easy, since many were trained actors. To release an already learned knowledge of how acting should be is not easy, says Yuriy.


In Memoriam Nesterov – with Kiritchenko, Коtrа, Zagaykevych, Letov, Makarov, Borisov, Yaremchuk, Tovstukha, Khmelyov, Ohrymchuk, Strelnikov, Klymenko, Zmorovych, Smetanin, Rudyi, Putyatin, Khmelyov, Makhno. NOTE! You hear Zmorovych in the second piece (if ou have any problem hearing it here, go to the website, see the link above) and not on the first, that is Yuriy Yaremchuck performing!

Teatr AAA got much attention, not only in former Soviet Union but also in Western Europe and the USA. But during the crisis years of the 1990s the sponsors fled and the theater had to be closed.

“Avantgarde should never be decorative”
Yuriy loves to to work with amateurs. He argues that the most important thing is to be creative and to be self-taught and that does not necessarily mean that you do not know how to create. He argues that many musicians or artists in avantgarde often are overly decorative in their design and not in opposition to the norm. He points a little at his compatriot Yuriy Jaremchych, he also worked with previously. But they have chosen different ways and is therefore not entirely agree on the avantgarde expression. At the same time Yuriy Zmorovych would never allow condemnation against other artists.

I ask him what he thinks about the future and he urge that he believes that a new generations will bring avantgarde further to new dimensions. The forms will of course be different, but the most incentives will stand.

– The human mind is collective, and our knowledge is shared. New influences will of course be added as our lives are changing. These are doors that the avantgardist should open. But how it will be can only the future reveal, he concludes.

And I am really feel enthusiastic by his optimism.

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Ya Gallery wants to make a difference

Category: art, by sophie engström, ukraine
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This article was previously published in Swedish.

Ya Gallery is clearly something beyond the ordinary. That stands clear after only a short meeting with its founder Pavlo Gudimov. Pavlo’s ambitions for Ya Gallery is anything but insignificant. He wants to bring large footprint on the Ukrainian art scene, not just here and now but in a very distant future.

But last fall Ya gallery unexpectedly came into the limelight. the gallery was burned down by an angry crowd. There has been a rumor afterwards that there was an exhibition about homosexuality, that caused the attack, but this was not the case. The trigger for the riot was that Ya gallery agreed to host a panel discussion, led by a gay organization, on the situation of homosexuals in today’s Ukraine.

– They had nowhere to have their meeting, so we let them use our gallery for their panel discussion. But apparently it was too delicate issue and many was provoked, says Pavlo. I’m pretty sure that anything like this could never happen in Sweden, right?

The young artist Volokitin Artem, who exhibited at the time of the attack, does not focus on homosexuality, even though his work can be provocative, though hardly by the tangent to a homosexual theme.


Artem Volokitin receives the PinChukArtPrize

Pavlo implies, however, that both Artem and Ya Gallery benefited from the attack. Both received attention and therefore got a new audience. But the gay situation is still difficult, said Pavlo.

Ya Gallery opened three years ago, but Pavlo founded a design workshop, or showroom, already 8 years ago. Ya gallery’s idea is to be able to work with the whole process, from the exhibition to the designing and printing the posters, the catalogs. Pavlo has tied five companies to Gudimov art project. They are publisher, designer or involved in contemporary art. He also implies that a major problem for contemporary art in Ukraine is that there is no infrastructure for art and artists. He hope that he with Gudminov art project can change that sitaution. Pavlo also stresses that the cross-disciplinary idea in Gudminov art project is what makes it strong. It creates a new creative environment and pioneering ideas cant there be created. Gudminov art projects publications is also the main sources of income and helps Ya Gallery to exist.

Ya Gallery with Pavlo Gudminov at the helm, also wants to change, influence and even to some extent determine how the Ukrainian art scene will look like in the future. Pavlo goes round the country to search for artists, young and old. The art he chooses is the one that does not trample already beaten tracks and he would not favor a few artists.

– Many galleries run only around 10 artists, but I want to have a broader base than that, he says.

He is not afraid to exhibit artists that never have had any exhibition. When I visited Ya gallery they exhibited two artists, two men in their 50s, that never had been exhibited before.

– They have an expression that fits our concept, says Pavlo.

– What do you mean by concept? I ask. That it is “Ukrainian” and fits the subtitle of “contemporary Ukrainian art”?

– Well, says Pavlo. The term “contemporary Ukrainian art” is an effort to give Ukrainian art a game room or space. And I want to help creating the content of that space.

– But is not “Ukrainian” just a word in vogue right now? What if it suddenly becomes obsolete, or really lame?

– Yes, I can admit that it is true, and to some extent we are using it as smart marketing. It gives the right sense, so to speak. We of course also sets out international artists. But there is also a huge lack of knowledge about Ukraine’s art scene, both inside and outside its borders. Can we participate in creating a knowledge bridge between artists and their audience I will be satisfied, concludes Pavlo before he hastens off to the next meeting.

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