Thursday 20.1.2022


Cosmic Commonism, Cosmic Communism, Cosmic Colonialism? A conversation with Madina Tlostanova and Ewa Majewska

This event will be held online

Galina Konopatskaya, Cosmic Mother, 1970

Looking for feminist counter-aesthetics and counter-publics in the (post-)socialist world

A discussion with Madina Tlostanova and Ewa Majewska.

What heritages, aesthetics and styles of radical subversion can we find in the interstices of the socialist and post-socialist worlds? Do the cosmic promises and fantasies of state socialism - and their esoteric interpretations and appropriations by artists like Janina Kraupe-Świderska and Galina Konopatskaya - hold any kind of radical potential for a subversive new politics and new aesthetics today? Do the vernacular mutations of Marxism-Leninism (and other high modern ideologies) which settled into shape in local contexts during the 19th-21st centuries hold any promise as indigenous ideologies of resistance against late neoliberal capitalist heteropatriarchal hegemony? Or does the shape and style of a non-fascist, non-patriarchal world have to coalesce from a different kind of material altogether?

About Cosmic Mothers

Artists’ works in the show draw on cosmologies, science-fiction, esoteric practices and ancestral systems of knowledge and imagination that go beyond an officially approved scientific discourse. The exhibition title is inspired by the 1971 enigmatic painting ‘Cosmic Mother’ by the USSR artist Galina Konopatskaya, which echoes Orthodox icons of Madonna and Child, instead depicted here in astronaut suits and floating in outer space. What would happen if we chose to look at the image of Cosmic Mother through the empowering prism of cyberfeminism and queer science-fiction? About the Guest Speakers

Madina Tlostanova

Tlostanova is a decolonial thinker and fiction writer, professor of postcolonial feminisms at Linköping University (Sweden). Her research interests include decolonial thought, particularly in its aesthetic, existential and epistemic manifestations, feminisms of the Global South, postsocialist human condition, fiction and art, critical future inquiries and critical interventions into complexity, crisis, and change. Her most recent books include What Does it Mean to be Post-Soviet? Decolonial Art from the Ruins of the Soviet Empire (Duke University Press, 2018), A new Political Imagination, Making the Case (co-authored with Tony Fry, Routledge, 2020), Decoloniality of Knowledge, Being and Sensing (Centre of Contemporary Culture Tselinny, Kazakhstan, 2020) and the co-edited volume Postcolonial and Postsocialist Dialogues. Intersections, Opacities, Challenges in Feminist Theorizing and Practice (co-edited with Redi Koobak and Suruchi Thapar-Björkert, Routledge, 2021). Currently she is working on an experimental mixed media book “Fictions of Unsettlement”.

Ewa Majewska

Dr hab. Ewa Majewska – is a feminist philosopher and activist, living in Warsaw. She taught at the University of Warsaw and the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, she was also a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley; ICI Berlin and IWM in Vienna. She published one book in English, Feminist Antifascism. Counterpublics of the Common (Verso, 2021) and four books in Polish, as well as 50 articles and essays, in journals, magazines and collected volumes, including: e-flux, Signs, Third Text, Journal of Utopian Studies and Jacobin. Her current research is in Hegel's philosophy, focusing on the dialectics and the weak; feminist critical theory and antifascist cultures. She lectures at the UDK Berlin.

This event is co-organised with Mimosa House, an independent, non-profit art institution supporting women and queer artists.

Updated: Dec 7, 2021


5pm GMT

The Creeper Museum and the Weeds of Education: Towards a De-Meaned Ministry of Minimum Enlightenment

Location: Masaryk Room, UCL SSEES

Please note: This event will be held IRL (In Real Life). Hybrid online participation via Zoom will be enabled. Registration is required.

The talk addresses the issues of social inequality in cultural and knowledge production in the context of contemporary Russia. More precisely, it focuses on methodologies and results of two art projects – The Ministry of Enlightenment (St Petersburg, Russia, Summer 2021) and The Arrival (ongoing in the UK). Both projects are based on the approach I call ‘performative lectures’, which stands for exploring opportunities for more horizontal and open forms of public education. Performative lectures are taken from university rooms to various urban locations, where they co-exist with other cultural practices, agents, sounds. A performative lecture is not a plant to cultivate, but rather a sporadically-growing weeds in the garden of enlightenment. The first series, The Ministry of Enlightenment, follows the discussion on the recent law ‘on enlightenment activity’, regulating educational activity in Russia beyond official study programs. It concerns not only by possible restrictions on public educational activities crucial for many cultural workers and art institutions, but it reformulates the very concept of enlightenment itself and the social inequality in knowledge production invested in it. The lectures were held in urban locations of St Petersburg we called the new ‘salons of enlightenment’: a car garage (шиномонтажный салон), spa salon and swimming pool, and a beauty salon. The ongoing project, The Arrival, explores changing relations between space, body, and culture in the context of new forms of travel. The project is structured around auto-ethnographic experience and a historical investigation of the Russian culture of the 19th-20th centuries. It includes two performative lectures to be held at the France-UK border (The Border) an aircraft hangar in the British countryside, and the concluding themed Ball at Pushkin House.

The talk will followed by a conversation with Olesandr Dmitrenko also known as YouTube blogger Pohititel Aromatov, a media-artist and one of the Arrival participants. It will concern the role of new media in cultural production, and how categories of ‘high’ and ‘low’ cultures can be demolished.

Win a ticket to The Ball (17 December, Pushkin House)

UCL students and staff are invited to prepare a short story, poem or speech (maximum 50 words) on the theme of The Ministry of Enlightenment – to be submitted by 5pm on 16 October via email to; or via Twitter (please tag @UCLSSEES and @FRINGECentre and use the hashtag #MinMinEnlight). Attendees will be invited to read out their creations following the conversation between Kuleva and Dimitrenko; and the author of the best work (selected by Kuleva, Aromatov) will receive a ticket to The Ball at Pushkin House (held on 17 December at 7pm).

Dr Margarita Kuleva is a sociologist of culture, interested in exploring social inequalities in the art world and creative industries mainly in Russia and the UK in order to develop fairer working conditions in the sector. Primarily, she works as an ethnographer to discover the ‘behind the scenes’ of cultural institutions to give greater visibility for the invisible workers of culture. She is currently based at National Research University Higher School of Economics, St-Petersburg, where she works as an Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, holding the position of chair of the Department of Design and Contemporary Art.

Olesandr Dmitrenko is a media artist working in viral comedy. Oriented towards a Russian-speaking audience, he conducts his artistic statements in drag and is known best for his role as ‘Shura Stone’ - a cashier working in ’Pyaterochka’ (a chain of Russian supermarkets), the wife of a local police officer and the mother of a teenage boy.

PPV #24 has been organised by FRINGE and PPV in collaboration with Pushkin House. It is supported by The Centre for German and European Studies (DAAD) and HSE University, St Petersburg. It is presented as a part of the public programme for Desire International, an exhibition currently on view at Pushkin House.

Updated: Nov 10, 2021


5pm GMT.

Book Launch: Anna Bokov's Avant Garde as Method: VKhUTEMAS and the Pedagogy of Space, 1920-1930. Ft Anna Bokov and Ines Weizman.

Location: Common Ground, IAS, UCL.

Please note: This event will be held IRL (In Real Life). Hybrid online participation via Zoom will be enabled. Registration is required

Throughout the 1920s and ’30s, the Higher Art and Technical Studios in Moscow, more commonly known as Vkhutemas, adopted what it called the “objective method” to facilitate instruction on a mass scale. The school was the first to implement mass art and technology education, which was seen as essential to the Soviet Union’s dominant modernist paradigm.

With Avant-Garde as Method, architect and historian Anna Bokov explores the nature of art and technology education in the Soviet Union. The pedagogical program at Vkhutemas, she shows, combined longstanding academic ideas and practices with more nascent industrial era ones to initiate a new type of pedagogy that took an explorative approach and drew its strength from continuous feedback and exchange between students and educators. Elaborating on the ways the Vkhutemas curriculum challenged established canons of academic tradition by replacing it with open-ended inquiry, Bokov then shows how this came to be articulated in architectural and urban projects within the school’s advanced studios.

Read an excerpt from the book here.

Anna Bokov is an architect, historian, and educator. She is a faculty member at the Cooper Union and the City College in New York. She has taught at Parsons, Cornell University, Yale School of Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design, and Moscow Architectural Institute. Anna is a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture at the ETH Zurich. She was a member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton; a recipient of the Mellon Fellowship, the Beinecke Research Grant at Yale, and the Graham Foundation Grant. Her book Avant-Garde as Method: Vkhutemas and the Pedagogy of Space, 1920–1930 (Park Books, 2020) is dedicated to the Russian counterpart of the Bauhaus.

Ines Weizman is Head of the PhD Programme at the School of Architecture, Royal College of Art. She is the founding director of the Centre for Documentary Architecture (CDA), an interdisciplinary research collective of architectural historians, filmmakers, and digital technologists. Ines recently published Documentary Architecture/ Dissidence through Architecture, Arquitectura Documental/ Disidencia a Través de la Arquitectura, Santiago de Chile: ARQ Editiones (2020). In 2019 she published the edited anthology of essays on Bauhaus history as Dust & Data: Traces of the Bauhaus across 100 Years, Leizpig: Spector Books (2019). In 2014, she was editor of Architecture and the Paradox of Dissidence, published by Routledge. Her book Before and After: Documenting the Architecture of Disaster, co-written with Eyal Weizman, was published in the same year by Strelka Press. Ines has also worked on exhibitions and installations such as Repeat Yourself: Loos, Law, and the Culture of the Copy, exhibited at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, as well as solo shows at the Architecture Centre in Vienna and the Buell Center at Columbia University, New York (2013).

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