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


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).

Updated: Oct 23


5pm GMT. Room TBC.

Trans-media lecture with video by Jesse Weaver Shipley (John D. Willard Professor of African and African American Studies and Oratory, Dartmouth College). Comments by Hélène Neveu-Kringelbach, Associate Professor of African Anthropology, UCL.

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

Mohammed Ben Abdallah in *Anatomy of a Revolution*, a film by Jesse Weaver Shipley

In the mid 20th century, the coup d’état became a seemingly common form of political action around the world. Theorists on both the left and the right argued about how to defend the state from, as well as instigate, various types of coups. While purportedly illegitimate, the coup was central to state craft and the practices of international relations. It had a recognizable ritual order and aesthetic. With end of the Cold War and the growing hegemony of a global neoliberal capitalist order, the coup d’état seemingly became a relic of an older political-economic moment. But recently there has been a new wave of both failed and successful coups from Washington to Conakry. I ask why the coup has returned to prominence as a form of political discourse. Its reappearance as a mode of legitimate action reveals the imperialist origins of the modern nation-state and the growing recent pressure on national borders and techniques of rule. I argue that while the coup d’état is signified as an outdated nightmare and relic of state disfunction it is, in fact, the apotheosis of the nation-state. Its organization and violence mimic and invert the order and bureaucracy of state rule. Rebels attempt to inhabit the trappings of the state to claim that their use of violence is moral and legitimate.

I focus on a largely forgotten radical period in Ghanaian history beginning with a successful coup 1979 and ending with a failed coup in 1983. For a brief period, radical soldiers and intellectuals ruled, seeking to tear down society and rebuild it anew. But they were divided, seduced, and killed as their government embraced a free-market oriented security state. The sudden rise and fall of revolutionary Ghana—and its erasure from historical discourse—reveals both the possibility of alternative modes of political power in Africa and how these forms have been contained through both violence and representational practices. Indeed, if we think historically and geographically through a coup d’état in 1979 Accra—rather than 1968 Paris for example—it reorients our understanding of sovereignty and revolution in the 20th century by showing how young revolutionaries sought an African-grounded independent sovereignty, a future now forgotten. Excavating Ghana’s lost revolution—and numerous other radical movements around Africa in that moment—changes how we calibrate historical change, geographic continuities and gaps, and the flow of power. The return of the coup as a technique of statecraft raises renewed questions about the relationship of the radical left and right and the viability of the nation-state as a sustainable political form.

Jesse Weaver Shipley is a writer, ethnographer, and artist whose work explores the links between aesthetics and politics. He focuses on how performance genres are shaped by political-economic regimes while at the same time providing tools for people to create new relationships to power. His first book Living the Hiplife: Celebrity and Entrepreneurship in Ghanaian Popular Music explores the rise of African hip-hop and its political-economic significance. His second book Trickster Theatre: Poetics of Freedom in Urban Africa examines how modern pan-African theatre is crucial to the struggle for decolonization and independence. His films and multimedia art works experiment with forms of storytelling, portraiture, and theory to tie mundane details and spectacular events to broader principles of power, aesthetics, desire, and trauma.

Hélène Neveu Kringelbach is Associate Professor of African Anthropology at University College London. She has carried out fieldwork in Senegal, France and the UK. Her study of social mobility in Dakar, as seen through the lives and work of dancers and musicians, was published in 2013 as a prize-winning monograph, Dance Circles: Movement, Morality and Self-Fashioning in Urban Senegal. She is currently working on an ethnographic study of binational and transnational families between Senegal and Europe.

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