Chto Delat (What is to be done?) is an arts collective founded in 2003 in St Petersburg, Russia. It gathers artists, critics, philosophers and researchers, blending art, theory, politics and activism to develop projects that engage with a postsocialist condition. With the aim of reviving forgotten or repressed potentialities of the Soviet past, their works often play with the politics of commemoration. Through interventions in public space, films, theatrical performances, and installations, the collective bases their work on the results of observation and analysis of current social and political conflicts.
For prologue, the film It hasn’t happened with us, yet. Safe Haven, 2016, will be screened as part of prologue’s projection and discussion program at KADIST, Paris. ‘Safe Haven’ is the name of a network of residences for artists, authors and musicians who live in countries where life, freedom or human dignity are under threat. In the safe haven, those seeking refuge must decide for themselves how best to define their futures – whether to request political asylum or return to their homelands. The film’s collaged narratives, blurring the lines of fact and fiction, are situated on a small Norwegian Island and set in the future past. The character’s play out the eventuality of having fled Russia. The film’s five protagonists (artists, curator, philosopher/director) wander the landscape encountering the lives of locals, their ideas and ideals of life beyond nationalities and political oppression. The malaise of stasis post-escape confronts and complicates understandings of persecution and the different forms it can take. Ultimately, the question remains about which is in fact the better option: to stay or to go?
Chto Delat’s work has been presented in exhibitions internationally including recent solo exhibitions at VOX – Centre de l’image contemporaine, Montréal (2018); MUAC Museo – Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico (2017); CAAC – Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Sevilla (2017); and KOW, Berlin (2017). The group has also participated in group exhibitions and international events with ‘Nuit Blanche’, Toronto, Paris (2017); São Paulo Art Biennial (2014); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2014); and Tate Liverpool (2013). The collective’s works have been acquired by international institutions including the MoMA – Museum of Modern Art, New York; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Museum Reina Sophia, Madrid; Le Centre Pompidou, Paris; MUDAM – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxemburg; Tretyakov Art Gallery, Moscow; KIASMA, Museum for Contemporary Art, Helsinki; and KADIST, San Francisco.
Image : Chto Delat, It did not happen with us, yet. Safe Haven, HD video, color, sound, 36 min, 2016. Courtesy the artists.