Debates On Division: When Private Becomes Public

Project portfolio [2011-2019]

‘Debates on Division: When Private Becomes Public’ is an ongoing, interactive performance created and directed by Gluklya (Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya), curated and produced by Anna Bitkina in collaboration with institutions that hosted the project and many local collaborators. Conducted several times internationally (as a part of Manifesta 10 in St Petersburg (2014), in Amsterdam at SMBA – Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (2016), as a part of Creative Time Summit in Washington DC (2016) and in Oslo (2017) the project formed into a nomadic, discursive and performative platform/network with an algorithmic structure that aims to identify and analyze political order in different geographies and its implications on private lives of individuals.

What begins as a fictional TV talk show with local actors and performers ends with a public demonstration. This way, Gluklya and Anna Bitkina want to create a public forum that spotlights different forms of human fragility and traumas caused by deviation in structures of power. In the center of the performance several stories that evolve around various pieces of clothing. Presented cloths play an intermediary role between private and public, exposing the conflict between the inner world of a person and the political system. The audience is invited to vote whether each presented piece of clothing enters the collection of the Museum of Utopian Clothes – a speculative public institution. To have a sharp articulation of local conditions a group of 5-6 experts that consists of representatives of different professional fields are invited to reflect on each story.

In March 2019 the performance was presented at The Center for Fine Arts BOZAR in Brussels and as a part of  Performative Festival. Brussels’s version of ‘Debates on Division’ includes elements of criminal-conspiracy drama and deals with the subject of fear, suspicion, and distrust fueled by social segregation, financial insecurity and xenophobia in the context of growing degeneration of the political system in the EU and across the globe.

Debates on Division
Manifesta Biennale 10
St Petersburg, 2014

The first iteration of the performance was commissioned by Manifest 10 for its public program and took place at the New stage of Alexandrinsly Theater and Nevsky prospect. The project idea was a reaction on the annexation of Crimea and the escalation of Russian-Ukrainian conflict in 2014. It was a time of radical turn in the national political agenda that has changed position of Russia on the geopolitical arena and forced a major social division in the Russian society based on opposing political views. It became apparent that a new language is needed to articulate the complexity of current political conflicts, cross border relations and global economical and military interdependency. In the focus of the performance were other internal and urgent socio -political issues of contemporary Russia among which a suppression of minorities, including representatives of LGBTG community and working migrants.

Follow the link to see video documentation:

Review by art critic Valeriy Lednev ‘Non-healing Gap’ on (in Russian)

Gluklya (Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya), “Debates on Division: When Private Becomes Public”,Manifesta 10, 2014, New Stage of Alexandrinsky Theater, St Petersburg.

Gluklya (Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya), “Debates on Division: When Private Becomes Public”,Manifesta 10, 2014. Documentation of the silent procession along the Nevsky Prospect (part of theperformance), St Petersburg.

Debates on Division
SMBA – Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, 2016

At SMBA the performance was adapted to the local context and conducted around three stories by migrants and recent refugees. Currently based in Amsterdam they are struggling by awaiting for an asylum or a permit to be able to continue living and legally working in the country. During the performance questions on current migration policy in The Netherlands and in the EU were in the center of debates. Who decides on the status of current refuges and long term residents without a legal status? Based on what requirements they could stay in the Netherlands? When they have to leave the country and where should they go to?

Performance documentation:

Text about the project:

Gluklya (Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya), ‘Debates on Division: When Private Becomes Public’, SMBA, Amsterdam, 2016

Debates on Division
Creative Time Summit in Washington DC, Lincoln Theater, 2016

The stories presented within ‘Debates on Division’ performance in Washington DC touched upon personal frustrations of individuals caused by the political crisis in the US. The event took place one month before the last presidential election in the United States in which Donald Trump was elected. The procession took place to the White House the next day of the performance and included participants of the workshop that was a part of the Creative Time Summit program.

Documentation of the performance:

Gluklya (Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya), ‘Debates on Division: When Private Becomes Public’, Creative Time Summit, Lincoln Theater, Washington DC, 2016

Debates on Division
Deichmanske Bibliotek in Grünerløkka, RAM Gallery, Oslo, 2017

In the third edition of the performance project initiators are engaged in a search for a visual and performative language to create a critical discussion around the ‘deviant use of democracy’, the future of Europe, and the position and agency of the younger generation within current post-neoliberal conditions. The project also challenges the idea of a ‘perfect state’ of Norway. Black humor, exaggerated features of the characters, futuristic forms and looks are important artistic methods of the project. The performance evolves around personal stories of young people of 15-20 yo, who live, study and work in Oslo. Young individuals of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds bring into spotlight important issues related to their social and political positions, attitudes towards governmental structures, youth policy in Norway and visions for meaningful future. Important additional component of this edition is an exhibition at RAM Gallery which includes video of recorded stories and costumes designed by Gluklya.

Documentation of the project:

Curatorial text available here:

Gluklya (Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya), ‘Debates on Division: When Private BecomesPublic’, Deichmanske Bibliotek in Grünerløkka, Oslo, 2017

Debates on Division
The Center for Fine Arts BOZAR as a part of Performatik Festival, Brussels, 2019

Brussels’s version of ‘Debates on Division’ include elements of criminal-conspiracy drama and deals with the subject of fear, suspicion, and distrust fueled by social segregation, financial insecurity and xenophobia in the context of growing degeneration of the political system in the EU and across the globe.

In the focus of the show several stories that are carefully crafted from the parts of interviews and conversations with artists, human rights activists and representatives of LGBTQI communities, businessman, politicians, historians, social workers, sociologists, writers, media specialists and policymakers conducted by Gluklya and Anna Bitkina in Brussels since April 2018. The stories that are narrated by local artists and performers evolve around different elements of clothes. Presented as evidence of forensic investigation, the clothes play an intermediary role between the private and the public, exposing the conflict between the inner world of a person and the political system.

Performance participants, jury members and audience marched to the Parliament covered with blankets which served as a central element for the demonstration and a direct reference to the amount of homeless people in the EU capital that inhabit the premises of the EU headquarters at nights. Walking from BOZAR towards the European Parliament the demonstration manifests for the human and non-human rights and urgency for equal and inclusive politics, locally and globally in the pivotal moment before the European elections in May 2019.

Curatorial text available here:

Gluklya (Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya), ‘Debates on Division: When Private Becomes Public’, Center for Fine Arts BOZAR, Brussels, 2019

Gluklya (Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya), ‘Debates on Division: When Private Becomes Public’, procession towards European Parliament (part of the performance), Brussels, 2019

The Moving Museum of Clothes – Multicilti


How can participatory projects in the arts lead to the development of new creative methods and approaches to the local issues which at the same time have a global character?

In March of 2014 a new, unusual museum will open its doors in the Southeast of Amsterdam – The Moving Museum of Clothes. An international team of two curators and four artists together with the local citizens, will develop a special kind of (semi)public space where there is place for personal stories and secrets. It will be a museum of unexpected points of views, hopes, memories, disappointments, aspirations and a continuous search for a trustful environment.

Amsterdam Southeast (the Bijlmer) is known for its contradictory past and present. An embodiment of the belief in the coming Utopia, the perfectibility of human nature and the role of architecture as a weapon for social reform, the Bijlmer anno 2013 has to deal with the lack of sense of ownership of its residents in relation to their living environment and the lack of involvement in the life of the area and of the city. This is typical Bijlmer but also a typical suburb elsewhere: from Sao Paolo to Magadan.

Which possibilities can participatory projects in the arts create in order to engage citizens with their neighborhood and with each other? How can citizens of today become a meaningful and exciting part of a story of a contemporary city? The four participating artists work inter- and trans-disciplinary combining various media such as installation, performance, film, photography and text. Each of the artists has his own approach, strategies and tools which they apply in Amsterdam.

Gluklya (Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya) (NL/RF) sees clothing as a border between the interior world and the exterior social sphere. She is interested in clothing that performs an act of estrangement—in the sense explored by Brecht and Shklovsky. Through this act participants get a possibility to see things from a new and different perspective. Advocating  that «The personal is political» the artist aims to conduct confidential conversation with citizens. Clothing in this situation is a veil that allows to construct a framework for the action; it’s much easier to talk about our clothes than about ourselves.

Olga Jitlina (RF) tries not only to describe or protest the tragic situations in which history, government and people’s own passivity put them but to make attempts to find the ways out with tools like humour, paradoxical interpretations and imagination. In the Bijlmer Jitlina plans to search for the new forms of being and working together which suppose to substitute the old forms which belong to the ‘fordisctic’ society.

The work of Jan Hoek (NL) is often about suppositions: how do people look at black and white, rich and poor, locals and foreigners. In the framework of The Moving Museum Hoek will collaborate with the citizens of the Bijlmer who are not always visible in the city, also not in their direct environment. Both the artist and the citizens will become makers while both parties have (and will continue having) different expectations of the involvement in the artistic process. The documentation of the process is in this case as important as the final result.

Masha Ru (NL/RF) researches various aspects of cultural backgrounds of contemporary citizens. For The Moving Museum Ru will put an emphasis on the interaction between the personal and national identity in relation to the choice of clothes by different participants for different situations in their lives. The stories and experiences of citizens will form a basis for the development of themes en techniques in Ru’s project.

The Moving Museum of Clothes is at this moment actively in development. In March of 2014 it will be possible to speak specifically about the research findings and project results. Which models of participatory practice give citizens a possibility to contribute to the project in a meaningful way? What kind of impact do participatory practices have on the territory of art, social work,  politics and others in the neighborhood, in the city, nationally and internationally?

Irina Leifer, curator The Moving Museum of Clothes

Niki Lischow, curator The Moving Museum of Clothes

Irina Leifer is an initiator, researcher, producer, curator and regularly guest lecturer at the Reinwardt Academy (Amsterdam School of the Arts). Leifer conceptualizes, develops and realizes participatory projects in partnerships with cultural organisations such as museums and community centres, and in public space. Irina Leifer works in the Netherlands and internationally: functioning in a broader context she is able to experience and analyse how various participatory strategies work (or don’t work) in different cultural and social environments and to enrich projects in one country with the observations and conclusions made in another one. Examples of Leifer’s recent projects are collaborative Russian-Dutch project ‘Museums in New Towns: identity, image and participatory culture’ (Nakhodka-Zoetermeer) and ‘The Moving Museum of Clothes’ (Amsterdam).

Niki Lischow is an initiator, producer, curator and researcher. She is specialised in initiating and realising contemporary art projects in non-museum environments. The focus of her work is directed towards minority communities, often combined with Middle Eastern artists and audiences. Lischow works both in the Netherlands and internationally, where she uncovers relationships and builds new partnerships. Co-creation plays an important role in all her projects and her practical approach leads to long-lasting relationships with both artists and visitors. Niki Lischow’s projects include ‘Al Quds Underground Festival’(Jerusalem), ‘Live and work in Palestine’ (Berlin Biennale) and ‘The Moving Museum of Clothes’ (Amsterdam).


performance “TNF” within 10 Manifesta

The material was published on the website 27.07.2014

On July 13, Gluklya (Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya)’s performance “Debates on Division” was presented as part of the parallel program of the 10th Manifestos on the New Stage of the Alexandrinsky Theater. Art critic Valery Ledenyov was one of the participants in the project, and has decided to share some thoughts and ideas prompted by some of its plot twists.

Continue reading “UNHEALED DIVISION 2014”