Perverting the Power Vertical: Politics and Aesthetics i̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶G̶l̶o̶b̶a̶l̶ ̶E̶a̶s̶t̶
“Perverting the Power Vertical: Politics and Aesthetics in the Global East”, a “restless but rooted seminar and event platform” was established in 2018. In response to a new phase of the Russian Federation’s colonial war against Ukraine (a war which has been ongoing since 2014), PPV has been occupied by Ukrainian activists and scholars now working in London. It brings together a network of academics, artists, and activists that centres openly antifascist and antiauthoritarian voices speaking on politics & aesthetics. Since September 2022, the platform operates under the name: OCCUPY PPV (Perverting the Power Vertical: Politics & Aesthetics i̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶G̶l̶o̶b̶a̶l̶ ̶E̶a̶s̶t̶).
We demand radical changes in Russia-centric East European Area Studies. We require knowledge production that is antifascist by nature and rooted in solidarity. We stand against the Russkiy Mir, the New East, Eurasianism and other unifying concepts that – consciously or not – instrumentalize “fraternity” to commit erasure. The “Global East” strikes us as another concept of these hyper-reductive umbrella terms. It seems far too redolent, furthermore, of the obsolete and malevolent ideology of “Eurasianism”.
The questions that OCCUPY PPV will explore include: Can antimilitarist feminists lobby for air defence? What is antifascist architecture? Why does pacifism kill? What’s wrong with the “New East”? Homonationalism or Queer liberation? Should we cancel Russian culture? And many more.
Join us at our hybrid events at UCL SSEES and online. Slava Ukraїni!
PPV functions under the auspices of the SSEES FRINGE Centre. Please note that this site is always under (re)construction.
ABOUT PPV 2018-2022
PPV is a restless but rooted seminar and event platform convened in 2018 by Maria Mileeva, Michał Murawski and Denis Maksimov.
This theme is taken from the name of a 2011 movie about MMM Global, a bank and pyramid scheme established in 1990 by financier and fraudster Sergei Mavrodi (1932-2018), also said to be responsible for the Bitcoin surge of 2018.
Please visit the dedicated site for the PPV piraMMMida project here.
Which power verticals hold sway over the Global East (and south and west and north)? And how can we identify alternative styles, shapes and geometries of power – horizontals, diagonals, perpendiculars, transversals, skews and intersections – within and without the (past, present and future of) the “trans-socialist” Global East?
The “Global East” is an enormous, inchoate territory, encompassing myriad distinct political and economic systems, as well as cultural and aesthetic proclivities. However, for all its diversity, the territories of the Global East are tangibly marked by the mutually-intelligible legacies of state socialism – a collapsed (but lingering) systemic cosmos centred around Moscow: from interlinked typologies of prefabricated housing, to the spatial and stylistic effects of shortage economies, to the everyday rhetorics and aesthetics of hyper-centralized bureaucracy (and the attendant modes of irony, satire, over-identification and subversion).
PPV deploys the notion of the Power Vertical – a term used by political scientists to refer to Vladimir Putin’s brand of post-Soviet authoritarian governance – as a conceptual pivot. What are the aesthetics of the Power Vertical? Are they resolutely upright and ostentatious, like Moscow’s proliferating neo- Stalinist skyscrapers and turbo-charged Victory Day Parades? Or are they happy-go-lucky, dissipate and chaotic, like Putin’s villainous trickster wink (or Trump’s insomniac Twitter sessions)? Moreover, in the era of resurgent populisms, re-militarization and the oligarchization of capital, are the styles and shapes of the Power Vertical making a mark on the global political-aesthetic New Normal?
While seeking to make sense of the Power Vertical, PPV also looks beyond it, exploring the heterodox shapes, styles and ideologies populating the Global East, and emanating from it to the wider world. Moreover, it aims to probe ways in which scholars can collaborate with artists, architects and activists from across the Global East: not only to analyse the Power Vertical (not only to take the Power Vertical seriously), but also to develop tactics and strategies to ridicule, trick, twist, undercut, queer, resist - and pervert it.
PPV functions under the auspices of the SSEES FRINGE Centre. In 2019-2020, PPV is generously supported by the UCL European Institute through its Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union; PPV is also supported by The UCL Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art and UCL Culture; and is organised in conjunction with the UCL Institute for Advanced Studies and The Avenir Institute.