viewpoint-east.org

viewpoint-east.org recommends: Five-Finger Discount by DZA

Category: by sophie engström, music, recommendations, russia
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(Läsningstid: 1 minut)

I highly recommend the latest release by Sasha DZA at Error Broadcast. (For a regular reader of viewpoint-east.org DZA surely do not need an introduction, but you can refresh your at myspace or read my interview with Dza in May, when he just returned from RBMA in London, or an interview (in Swedish) with Dza and Mujuice from 2008.)

The release at Error Broadcast

Sasha DZA, the how2make frontier, has with Five-Finger Discount created an unique album which unpredictable beats that will accompany a wild, wild summer. At least I will let this beautiful creative madness ring in my ears all summer long… and probably much longer than that! I highly recommend you all to purchase the lossless audio, which you find below the free download. Keep creativity like this live!

Dza – Shifty by DZA

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Feminism in Russia? Like a sleeping beauty?

Category: by sophie engström, gender, russia
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(Läsningstid: 5 minuter)

During my stay in Moscow last month, I one night ended up looking at Russian TV at a friends places. My friend and her old mother was zapping through the channels and ending up at the news. While we was sitting there consuming the information (or whatever the TV viewer are expected to do) I started to feel physically sick. Since I never look at TV in Sweden I am probably rather sensitive towards what I see. At first I thought it was because I had too much tasty food to eat, but rather quick I understood it was the news in the box infront of me that was the course of my sickness. And why did I feel like that? Well, it was not the actual news. They look the same as they always have in Russia, so this did not upset me (enough, I should add).

No, it was an other unpleasant aftertaste I could feel. During the 30 minutes or 45 minutes news show there where not even one woman speaking. I could see women crying or walking in the background of some guy being interviewed, but not even one woman had a voice. Coming from a country where the newsrooms and editorial work have, may be not great, but at least an awareness how important representation and diversity actually are, I felt like I was pushed back to some kind of Medieval landscape just in one blow. It is true that women’s representation in Russia in, for instance, the Parliament, sucks but this was just too much! (Check the statistics at Wikigender.) And I might alos add that this is a rather unpleasant change since all my previous stays in Moscow and Russia. I felt an urge to talk to a feminist that could put some light on how it became like this.

I was lucky. The day after I had a meeting with one of the most prominent feminists in Moscow, Nadezhda Azhgikhina, journalist, literary critic, and executive secretary at Russian Union of Journalists. I asked her why women have vanished from Russian TV and why I can’t hear or read any protests. Nadezhda implies that most bosses or executive bosses are men, so basically the newsrooms or editorial are stuck with those. But when it comes to why TV news shows almost no women Nadezhda has a very interesting theory. She denotes that Russian TV should be regarded a theatre play. This play has as a purpose in trying to fool the viewer into believing that the government actually is in charge and can handle all occurring problems in the society.


Nadezhda Azhgikhina

– Men doesn’t show fear and are therefor regarded as the most effective power. So by excluding all women, they try create the picture that Russia is the strongest and best country in the world.

The second part of her theory is that she implies that TV, including all other media, do not want to promote the idea that there exists any gender problems in Russia of today. One explanation could be that it just don’t sell. The younger generations have not interest in feminism or gender issues, basically because they do not want to be influenced by “old” values. By “old” she denotes feminist values from 1990’s and during the Post Soviet Era. The feminist movement back then was very strong, but has drastically declined and today there are almost no feminist movement, she implies.

However, during the 90’s the feminist movement managed to create a good and stable network among those that are working with the questions.

But even so, I urge, while looking at Russia today I can only see stagnated stereotypes and mostly values promoting, for example, macho-masculinities and sticky sexisms when it comes to feminities. From my perspective Russia gender situation appears to be more conservative and obsolete than ever. I point at Ukraine and FEMEN and ask Nadezdha why we can’t see any reactions like that in Russia. Her answer actually surprises me. She claims that Ukraine is 10 years behind Russia., and that Ukraine’s radical feminist movement will also languish away. Her rather fatalistic attitude scares me, however she can be right. In Sweden we have had several strong feministic movements that have subsided. While Russia had a strong feminist during the 90’s, Sweden and many other countries, for instance USA, had a rather heavy backlash on feminists issues. From some perspective I would say that Sweden has never really recovered from that backlash.


FEMEN dressed as policemen protesting against the limitation of democratic liberties and freedom of the press during the first hundred days of Viktor Yanukovych’s presidency commemorated today.

The question we should ask ourself is perhaps how feminism can survive between every intervals of activity. What will for instance happen with an organization such as FEMEN when Ukrainian media has lost their interest in them? What plans do they have to survive the situation? After my meeting with Nadezdha I strongly feel that this is perhaps one of the weakest points of all feminist movements around the world. (And all other activism, I suppose.) When media turns their heads in other directions, too many feminists activists vanishes from the scene. How come? Not all feminists are exhibitionists for sure!!

But hopefully social media could play an important and different role for making campaigns to survive longer. FEMEN has been able to create their own media flow, with twitter, flickr etc etc. And I do hope that they have the strength to go on, even after the Ukrainian establishment has recovered from the chock that FEMEN (still) creates.


From FEMEN’s last campaign “Bloody tits”

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“Den ryska bokmarknaden är i en enda röra”

Category: by sophie engström, literature, russia, Uncategorized
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(Läsningstid: 3 minuter)

När jag besökte “Museernas Natt” i Moskva, träffade jag mångsysslaren Nick Ohkotin, initiativtagare till den oberoende bokdistributören Berrounz, ägare av Proekt OGI bookstore och Interbok i Stockholm. Vi pratade en del om situationen för den ryska bokindustrin och om hans arbete med Moscow International Open Book Festival.

– Tanken med “Moscow International Open Book Festival” är att visa besökarna att böcker inte bara har reducerats till kommers. Vi vill istället sätta fokus på litteraturen och författarnas tankar om kreativitet och skapande. Vår avsikten är alltså inte att sälja böcker i mängder, det sker på vanliga bokmässor, utan att fokusera på literaturen och författarna, säger Nick.


Nick Okhotin på Proekt_Fabrika under Museernas natt i Moskva 15 maj 2010.

Ungefär 80% av det som försiggår på “Moscow International Open Book Festival” handlar om litteratur, men för att överleva och locka till sig besökare har man bjudit in andra aktörer. Förra året bjöd de till exempel in den amerikanska anarkisten och filosofen John Zerzan. Det var en verkligt populär programpunkt. Andra populära inslag på festivalen, som inte hade en direkt koppling till litteratur, var en diskussionsduell mellan olika kulturföreträdare. De hade till exempel en duell mellan en filmkritiker och en filmskapare.

Nicks ambition med festivalen är att försöka göra festivalen något mer eklektisk än den varit tidigare, så att bidrag som beskrivits ovan blir mer vanliga. Han ser det som en viktig vitamininjektion för att inspirera det kulturella debattklimatet och likaså bokmarknaden, som han för övrigt anser den vara i stort behov av nya impulser.

Men att vara yrkesverksam på den ryska bokmarknaden är allt annat än riskfritt. För ungefär två år sedan mördades till exempel en förläggare för ett förlag som ger ut skolböcker och det är just där som korruptionen är som störst, menar Nick. Han försätter med att påpeka att hela bokmarknaden är en enda röra. Det verkar som om det finns en avsaknad av mål och visioner, säger han och menar att det finns många exempel på dåliga projekt i bokbranschen.

– “Piramida” är ett sådant exempel. Det var en bokaffärskedja här i Moskva som fanns på många platser. Butikerna låg ofta på exklusiva adresser. Deras hyror måste varit skyhöga. Proekt OGI Bookstore var en av många som engagerade sig och satsade i Piramida. Men problemet var att det inte fanns någon egentlig tanke eller idé bakom affärsidén, så de gick helt enkelt givetvis omkull. Vi förlorade runt 10.000 € vilket är ett enormt belopp för vår verksamhet. Det var nära att vi inte skulle klara det.

Nick hoppas därför på framtiden, men han ser inte särdeles ljust på den.

– Boken som form har svårt att konkurrera mot nya informationsvägar och läsplattan kan ju antingen vara en välsignelse eller det sista dråpslaget mot bokmarknaden. Förutsättningen är ju att folk fortsätter att läsa, men ibland är jag orolig att attityden till litteratur håller på att förändras, menar Nick. Och med den ryska litteraturens stolta tradition i åtanke kan jag inte låta bli att förfäras när en besökare på Fabika instämmer och berättar att det knappt finns något som helst intresse för inhemsk (eller internationell) litteratur bland yngre.

– De spelar dataspel eller surfar och verkar inte ha något intresse alls för att läsa, och Nick är enig med besökare.

Problemet med svikande intresse för litteratur är visserligen ett hyfsat globalt problem. Men för ett land som Ryssland, som ofta hänvisar till sin litterära dignitärer, får det kanske vidare konsekvenser. För hur går det med den ryska själen om den inte har någon kontakt med Dostojevskij eller Pusjkin?

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Korydor – A new venue for contemporary culture

Category: by sophie engström, ukraine
Tags: , , ,

(Läsningstid: 1 minut)

Today, on May 26 2010, the Foundation Center for Contemporary Art in Kyiv invites readers and authors to KORYDOR – online magazine in Ukrainian, dedicated to contemporary art and contemporary culture.

KORYDOR.in.ua seeks to create archive of critical phenomena and events on contemporary culture. It is an open platform for discussions and lectures. KORYDOR has a goal to develop a professional and responsible criticism. The magazine will also work for a joint discussion with European partners. through international discussions, reviews, translations of critical texts. English versions will be launched in autumn 2010.

For more information write to art[at]cca[dot]kiev[dot]ua

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Moskvas alternativa scen är liten, men desto kaxigare

Category: by sophie engström, russia
Tags: , , , ,

(Läsningstid: 3 minuter)

I vimlet på “Black market” på Proekt_Fabrika, sprang jag på Elena Tupyseva. Elena är en av Tsekhs drivkrafter. Tsekh är oberoende dansgrupp som är har sina lokaler i Proekt_Fabrika. Hon driver även Fabrikas konsertsal samt dess trevliga bar . Elena beskriver verksamheten i huset, och snabbt får jag klart för mig att detta är kanske en av de mer intressanta platserna i Moskva just nu, om man intresserar sig för vad som sker på den alternativa scenen. Proekt_Fabrika huserar flera olika aktiviteter, men alla som finns där är kopplat till den alternativa kulturscenen. Ja, förutom självaste fabriken, vill säga.

– Vet du om att fabriken fortfarande fungerar? De tillverkar papper och har upplåtit en del av deras yta till oss.

Elena vill helst inte spekulera i varför, men tror att det kan vara ett försök av företagsledningen att skapa goodwill.

-Eller så har de bara ett genuint intresse för kultur, vad vet jag? säger hon och skrattar.


Interiör från Proekt_Fabrika

Elena menar att Moskvas oberoende kulturscen ser bedrövlig ut. Enligt henne finns det ungefär fyra scener som tar in alternativ musik, teater, dans eller utställningar. Staden växer, men inte intresset för alternativ musik. Ett problem är att hyrorna är odrägligt höga, men en annan viktig och bidragande orsak är att intresset för alternativ kultur inte tilltar ut.

– Efter jobbet vill folk inte titta på modern dans, utan heller gå i köpcentra och köpa meningslösa attribut. Jag tror att intresset för kultur har avtagit totalt, men att alternativ, och kanske lite mer svår tolkad kultur, lider mest av det. Helt obegripligt! Modern dans som är så kul, säger hon och skrattar och påpekar att festivalen IntraDance kan bli lidande av det minskade intresset för kultur.

Elena är en av producenterna för festivalen och hon berättar om vilka problem de ställts inför. För det första är det mycket svårt att hitta lokaler som funkar. De som sysslar med modern dans vill helst ha en scen där publiken kan se rörelserna på golvet något uppifrån. Moskva har mycket få scener som stämmer in på den beskrivningen. För det andra är deras problem liten uppmärksamhet i media. Första gången de körde festivalen hade Afisha, Moskvas främsta city guide, ett fem sidors reportage med bilder. Denna gång har de haft 1/4 sida.

– Det är förstås förödande för oss, säger Elena som ändå hoppas på god uppslutning när festivalen drag igång den 20 maj.

Och det är klart att den blir det, tänker jag, när Elena ångar vidare mellan besökarna på “Black market”. Med den kraften kan inget stoppa dig!

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Night of Museums in Moscow

Category: by sophie engström, russia
Tags: , , , , ,

(Läsningstid: 1 minut)

Yesterday it was Night of Museums in Moscow and viewpoint-east.org went to Proekt Fabrika. I made an interview with Nick Ohkotin, independent book distributor Berrounz, owner of Proekt OGI bookstore and Interbok in Stockholm such as one of the team heads of Moscow International Open Book Festival. This interview will be published later.

Below you see a (very) short clip from the Black Market, that was situated at the yard at Fabrika. Wonderful atmosphere with friendly faces, tasty wine and many interesting books and other items for sale.

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A brave new world with Konoplyana pravda

Category: by sophie engström, ukraine
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(Läsningstid: 4 minuter)

When I was in Kyiv last I met some of the founders of the paper Konoplyana pravda. I was so fascinated by their project, so I decided to ask them some questions. Here is the answers from Zhenja Matirka, Sergio Azenberg and Taras Ratushniy. Enjoy!

How did it all start? When and who decided to start to make a paper?
We have every year during the Global Marijuana March (GMM) action in Ukraine tried to make a “paper appeal”, a kind of annual newspaper (but a bit unusual one, black and white made by RISO) with facts that one can not normally find in ordinary media . So the “start” was many years ago. Then we learned experiences from our close neighbors (from PL and CZ) also working with GMM in their capitals and their printed medias “Spliff” and “Konopticum” were convinced. That was our dream – a real (and legal) newspaper with real (and also legal) ADs. They had shown us how to realize our main goal, how to legalize ourself. So we started to work with our local crews, found the first advertisers and less then in 3 months our pilot, our first issue, was done.   

Could you describe the procedure? Like, how did you work together? Who did what, or likewise.
Hehe… During our work with the plot it was a real secret for everyone who exactly was responsible for what during the process. Konopljana Pravda has a virtual editorium – half of us has never met one another personally. Just nicks and short info in the google group. Graphic designer was sitting in Khmelnitski region, cartoonist in Vinnitsa, corrector in Minsk (BY) and also some of us were sitting in Kiev, Dnieoropetrovsk, even in India (like Dmitri Gaiduk, our editor). There was just one time we were working together in one room – four notebooks at one kitchen table. We’ll attach the photo : )

From where do you get your inspiration?
We get the inspiration from our readers. We are happy while they’re satisfied. We try to answer every e-mail and to publish the most interesting e-mails.

How do you survive economically? From sponsors or donations? Or both?
After working with i. ex. Global Marijuana March (GMM) for years, on our own expense, we don’t trust donors. Our project is therefor strictly commercial, we have ads. In our pilot the ads did look almost like sponsorship. That was because it was hard to be serious and to ask customers “We’re going to print newspaper in Ukraine? (Do you even know where’s it, Ukraine?) So do you want to buy some pages”. It was almost like selling air.
But when people saw our paper they called and mailed from all over Ukraine, and a lot of ad costumers said “Ok, we’d like to have a contract”. And a matter a fact, several new companies appears in every issue of “Konoplyana pravda”.     

Is the paper for free or people need to pay for it? Where can you find it? In Kyiv only? How do you solve distribution inside Ukraine?
Konoplyana pravda is for free. It can be found in smart-shops, bicycle- and roller clubs and on private parties. It is distributed by activist all over Ukraine – in Kiev, Dnipropetrovsk, Odessa, Lviv, Donetsk, and other major cities.

How many readers do you have today? How many would you like to have?
Our current issue is 7.000 but there are at least 3 readers fo every copy of the newspaper. So, we think that about 20 000-25 000 people read it each month.

Do you believe that it is possible to legalize cannabis in Ukraine?
We prefer not to discuss the question of legalization. Firstly because everyone discussing it implies different things. Our standpoint is that the Ukrainian society needs to change its idea about cannabis. It’s not a black or white issue in reality. And after the experts discussion we have to establish the State Policy over the alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

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