viewpoint-east.org

Öst är Öst och Väst är Väst – i alla fall i OS

Category: belarus, eastern europe, guests, russia
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viewpoint-east.org kan stolt presentera ett nytt bidrag av Maria Nilsson. Nu om fördomar och rysskräck i bland annat (så dagsaktuella) OS-sammanhang.

Vem har sagt att det är enkelt att vara slavist, eller mindre akademiskt uttryckt rysskramare eller öststatsälskare? Det är aldrig tydligare än när det är dags för OS eller annat stort sportevenemang och framför allt i individuella sporter där svenskarna har, eller i alla fall har haft stora framgångar.

Vem som helst kan i allmänhet uppskatta det vackra rörelsemönstret hos en konståkare som Evgenij Plushenko, utsökta dribblingarna av en Andreij Arshavin eller en Elena Isinbajevas (dessutom har hon ju samma manager som Christian Olsson) förmåga att hela tiden slå nya världsrekord men den längdskidåkare eller skidskytt från forna Öst som skidar förbi en Charlotte Kalla eller skjuter bättre än en Helena Jonsson finner aldrig nåd hos den svenska publiken. Finns det någon gång man kan fråga sig om muren överhuvudtaget fallit är det i längdskidspåret eller i skidskyttetävlingar. Aldrig är väl uppdelning mellan öst och väst dvs. ont och gott så tydlig som i dessa avseende.

Uppkrupen i ett hörn i ett stort sällskap mumlar du förklaringar till varför ryska namn är så konstiga och i allmänhet feluttalade av kommentatorer, försöker glatt dra på munnen när sällskapet skämtar kring att Belarusier och Ryssar inte får komma hem om de gör en dålig tävling eller snarare blir förvisade till Sibirien och framför allt anstränger dig för att inte göra det till ett statsvetenskapligt problem när någon poängterar hur mycket bättre det var när Sovjet fanns och det då fanns fem åkare istället för dagens 35.

I händelse av en ”Öststats” seger ställer sig alla kollektivt upp och skriker epo medan du lite försynt förklarar att enbart för att ryska tävlande blivit ertappade som dopade vid fler tillfällen än de allestädes samvetsgranna svenskarna behöver det inte betyda att alla på andra sidan Donau knaprar piller morgon, middag och kväll. Det kan ju faktiskt vara så att tävlande från det som i det här sammanhanget så gärna benämns som forna Öst faktiskt är bättre tränade, bättre på att toppa formen, bättre på att hålla nervositeten stången osv. än sina svenska motsvarigheter.

Alla som någon gång rest i det forna Öst eller har vänner som kommer därifrån vet om den benhårda disciplin som alla barn grillas i oavsett om det handlar om tämligen oskyldiga fritidssysselsättningar eller prestationsinriktade sporter. Det var en av många paradoxer med landet bakom järnridån, alla skulle vara bäst samtidigt som det kollektiva alltid skulle segra över det individuella. Alla som någon gång har befunnit sig i en träningshall i Öst under vintern vet också om den skoningslösa kylan, avsaknaden av varmvatten i duscharna och möglet i omklädningsrummet vilket antagligen är mer karaktärsdanande än de svenska motsvarigheterna. Till dess att jag blir motbevisad av dopingkontroller kommer jag därför att fortsätta glädjas i smyg i mitt soffhörn vid en ”Öststatsseger”.

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Gothenburg’s Film Festival 2010 – without viewpoint-east

Category: armenia, by sophie engström, eastern europe, estonia, georgia, movies, russia, ukraine
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Gothenburg’s International Filmfestival will soon begin, from 29th of january to 9th of February. I will however not be in town since I will visit Kyiv instead to collect material and ideas for new articles for viewpoint-east and hopefully other journals/newspapers.

filmfestival

The annual filmfestival in Gothenburg is however one of the few events I really appreciate, so it could sound strange that I have decided to leave the city right during those days. But it is a matter of priorities and Kyiv won my mind battle this time. (I will however not focus that much on the Presidential election, but rather to take this as an opportunity to highlight other issues.)

Firstly, there are not even ONE Ukrainian movie this year in the programme, which is is a great disappointment. I thought we would at least find one, or to be more precise (and please DO correct me of I am wrong) that Las Meninas would be in the programme. It has never been shown in Sweden or at the festival. That is a movie that at least I would like to see.

Much more pleasing is that the festival has three movies from Georgia and at least five Russian movies. I am especially sad that I miss Russia 88 and Help Gone Mad. Help Gone Mad is probably a wonderful movie. I really enjoyed Boris Khlebnikov other movies (and especially “Free floating”).

There are two movies from Estonia, and among them Disco & Atomic War triggers my interest. That is also the only movie I have among my own resources and will watch as soon as possible.

And last and not the least, I am very sad I miss all four movies from Armenia, and then especially Border, which seems to be a very interesting documentary with a new approach. I do hope I will have the possibility to watch it in a not too distant future.

Border

ps. and don’t forget to check out the blog!

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Focus Ukraine

Category: 1989, eastern europe, EU, ukraine
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It is possibly that somebody have noticed that the a current focus at viewpoint-east.org in Ukraine. Actually December and January, and possibly also parts of February, will have focus Ukraine. I dont want the articles to focus only on politics or/and economics, so if you have any ideas, essays, articles etc about Ukraine, that you would like to share, please send me a note or just comment on this entry.

After I wrote the short comment on the Ukraine-EU summit yesterday, I discovered that this issue actually is able to be more debated than I thought. Checking around the web I see that very few have mentioned it at all. The one that have discussed it seems to have been less critical than, at least I, desired. And after a conversations over lunch yesterday with a Swedish project leader working with Georgia, I felt I need to come back a more to this issue.

Just to clarify, I have never had any high thoughts about EUs “commitment” in Ukraine or any other country east of Berlin, actually. But I think possibly EU should learn from some mistakes before and especially by US. After the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, USA seemed to lack ambition with their eastward connections. As Gross & Steinheer claims in “Economic transition in Central and Eastern Europe: Planting Seeds” (2004) USA had no clear view on how to approach economical changes in Eastern and Central Europe (I hate that concept, but please give me an acceptable idea of what to use instead and I will use that!) which implied that Europe, or consequently EU, won the economic battle. Of course, this is something that could be disputed – against and for Gross & Steinherr conclusion. But we could possibly agree on that EU have an influence over Eastern and Central Europe. Regardless or not of the American influence, because it is perhaps not possible to evaluate how “little” the American influence is in that comparison.

But honestly, this is not what I had in mind to discuss, I just wanted to establish once more that EU actually have an influence, and that the crucial point is not how big the influence are but rather what is the main idea with it.

As I told my “colleague” at lunch yesterday, I am not sure EU know what to do with their Eastern connection and Ukraine. They don’t have an agenda and consequently have to jump from one tree to an other in order to try to avoid and maneuver nervous, pleading questions from Ukrainian leaders. My opposition is that an unaware influence actually can be much more damaging than having an aggressive attitude or even xenophobic and warmongering one. Xenophobic attitudes is easily raised, everywhere, evidently also in Ukraine, as Olya Vesnjanka wrote today at Deutsche Welle.

Conclusions? Well, I am not certain EU ever had any clear ideas about Eastern and Central Europe. I just think they “won” the battle economically once, due to the fact that that USA was even more hesitating and doubtful than EU. But one can call me illusionist ; ) from one perspective, and that is from the point of view that I wish EU to evaluate what the connection and commitment with eastern Europe actually is about! And answer the questions, even if the answers gets nasty and unpleasant (as in “We don’t care about the countries, but we want to suck them dry and have what reamins of their small resources”). And it is possible that this could imply that future cooperation dies. But as I said above, the todays unaware and near-sighted commitment could in the long run be pretty harmful!

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Former West rather than Former East?

Category: 1989, eastern europe
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I can’t say I am the kind of person, and also journalist, that regularly takes part of what the “old media” (“gammelmedia” in Swedish, as the Swedish Pirate Party’s party leader Richard Falkvinge call the traditional media) but every now and then I actually listen to BBC online. But during the last two months I have avoided it and that has been in a vain try to escape documentaries about 1989 and the Fall of the Berlin wall. No, this is NOT because I am in some kind of weird sorrow over the fall of the wall, but because I actually objects against that total prevail of interpretation the “old media” actually has and takes. Yesterdays whining about Peter Day, is actually how my irritation could be … designed.

This is why I am so really, so very proud to be able to introduce a project for you that really problematizes the idea about what actually happened and still are happening after 1989!

fomer west

Former West is a project with the intention to criticize our apprehension of what have changed in ours societies since 1989. They claim that now only Eastern Europe have change, but also Western world. For many of us it seems like a rather obvious reflection, but it is also all too clear that, simultaneously, we somehow imagine the changes after 1989 as Eastern Europe went through a paradigm shift, while Western world stood still and entire. Like Eastern Europe must learn everything like a little child from the educative and nursing mother, the West. The more you think about it the more absurd it gets! I am actually rude enough to claim that the considering part of (former) Western politicians, bureaucrats, journalist, professors etc etc have swallowed an interpretation like that, just because it it is easier and more convenient – in that way they don’t need to reconsider their positions and so called reality.

I have to admit this is a simplified version of the project and I do not claim that I am even close to the complexity of their dimensions. And I do admit that also I every now and then forgets and sometimes calls Former Eastern Europe, just because it is easier to explain what geographical area I’m actually talking about! But even so, I am so glad that projects like Former West actually exists. We need them! Oh, we need them far too much! However, I just hope that one day we won’t need them as much …

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“Gender Check” now!

Category: 1989, art, by sophie engström, eastern europe, gender, ukraine
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From the 13th of November 2009 to 14th February 2010 the exhibition “Gender Check – Femininity and Masculinity in the Art of Eastern Europe” is exhibited at MUMOK, Museum Moderner Kunst, Stiftung Ludwig, in Vienna.

gender check

Gender Check is a project initiated in order to highlight on the 20th anniversary of the the revolution, or fall of iron curtain, in Eastern Europe, with a gender perspective. The curator Bojana Pejić, from Belgrade, has been asked to put together the exhibition by ERTSE Foundation.

The research project Gender Check also had, and still have I guess, the ambition to put gender issues in Eastern Europe in focus, since questions about inequality and gender structures have problems to compete with other issues, such as the financial crisis or climate change for instance. Still, gender has, as many knows, an huge impact on everyday life and on those issues mentioned above. During six month Gender Check commissioned researchers from 24 countries to collect East european official and unofficial art from 1960s to the 1989. The exhibition “Gender Check – Femininity and Masculinity in the Art of eastern Europe” at MUMOK is the result of their joint efforts.

And last, read the interview with Olga Bryukhovetska (PhD, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Visual Culture Research Center) on Hedwig Saxenhuber’s research in Ukraine.

Thus there was a kind of vicious “pre established harmony” between the naturalized ideology of a sexist and patriarchal society which manifested itself in its practices and denial of these discriminative practices on the declared level of the official ideology. A similar structure was in operation in every marginalized social group, preventing it from fully realizing its own marginality and effectively obstructing any resistant practices (the position and consciousness of the Soviet working class being probably the most striking example of the consequences of such perverted ideological twists).

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