The libretto was written by Gluklya and Matras Platform for the performance Antigone Update, performed first time in Framer Framed Amsterdam on 13 October 2022 at the opening of the exhibition To those who have not time to play, with the speaking clothes and special music composition by Vladimir Rannev.
Performance Antigone Update /2022 was performed first time in Framer Framed Amsterdam on 13 October 2022 at the opening of the exhibition To those who have not time to play, with the speaking clothes and special music composition by Vladimir Rannev. Staring : Liah Frank , Georgia Boddez and Shepherd Camara
Photos: Marlise Steeman
This book emerged as a collaboration with Kurdish activist Murad Zorava, who started to write during this project and I hope he might continue.
In 2017, I was renting a studio in one of the two towers of Bijlmerbajes, a former prison in Amsterdam-Zuid-Oost. The second tower was then used by the government as an Asylum-Seekers-Center (AZC). My plan was to attempt a collaboration with the refugees staying there at the time, among whom was Murad.
During my project in Bijlmerbajes, I was confronted with eye-opening questions: What does equality mean, when it is equality between a refugee and an artist, between – so to speak –trained artist and the person who did not study art at all? Can we imagine rethinking and abandoning the idea of enlightenment? How to deal with the notion of Care without falling into patronization, but soberly staying within the frame of Radical Care?
At the start of my research, I visited AZC meetings. These were some of the regular lessons provided to the refugees to teach them about the social structure of the Netherlands and what they could expect here. Nothing was said during those meetings about culture and art, let alone contemporary art. This was surprising to me. It felt as if these people were held not equal to us, westerners, as many westerners believe they cannot survive without a breath of cultural or artistic air. Another thing that struck me was the fact of placing people in the environment of a prison: bars on windows, no locks from inside the rooms, no actual privacy, and unpleasant communal places.
Being haunted by this image of Murad in the cell of the former prison, I started to think about what exactly I could do in this situation. During one of the workshops, I proposed participants write a diary, and Murad accepted this idea. I am very happy to hope that the project had a practical outcome in reality. Murad believes that work with the publishing of his Diary helped him to settle down in Amsterdam.
The book can be purchased here https://www.buchhandlung-walther-koenig.de/koenig2/index.php?mode=details&showcase=1&art=1638030
HD – 16×9 – Full colour – with sound Stereo 37’38 length
In 2020, I was invited to participate in the research laboratory Space 1520, organised by Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, which focused on Soviet and post-Soviet colonialism. I was at this point already concerned with the issue of exploitation of women working in textile and fashion industries. During my research with Space 1520, I discovered Kyrgyzstan as a country with one of the largest textile industries, sewing the garments for export mainly to Russia. So, I travelled there and finally saw the conditions of seamstresses with my own eyes. This profoundly changed my view of reality.
The title of the exhibition at Framer Framed To those who have no time to play came from my visit to the house of the seamstress Rahat, where I was shocked by her living conditions and realised that all the words and questions that might fall from my mouth will be futile in this context. I had a myriad of reactions: feelings of confusion and guilt, combined with the urge to try and do something. I made an effort and asked her: What were you playing in your childhood? Rahat answered that she played with stones.
The protective distance for human beings from becoming robots comes through play and humour. But it turns out that the game itself is a luxury that cannot be afforded by people who are overworked and cannot take time to reflect or even read a bedtime book to their children. The neoliberal structure of the market places the responsibility of the working day on the individual, there is no control to limit the working hours as it was during the Soviet era, where seamstresses were coming in at 8 am and leaving at 5 pm. Seamstresses become like machines, filled with concern for producing as much as possible, since it is the amount of production that determines the amount of money they will be paid. They are regularly tortured by overworking, often through the night, until their bodies become full of pain. Let me share a fragment of an interview with seamstress Dinara:
Hard to recall good days. Every day is in a bad mood. You take a lot of work and work 18-20 hours at times to have it finished. Often, I work up until two or three in the morning. It is beneficial to the owner, inasmuch as his profits grow the more we work. Taxi expenses are taken from my pocket. And so, on almost every day. No time for recess. There’s a family to feed. It should be eight hours of work as a norm, but I have not ever even tried to. At a minimum it is 10 hours a day, but mostly 15-16 hours. It even happens to work 24 hours without sufficient sleep. After work I rush to lay down and sleep. On my day off I strive to replenish my energy sleeping.
The title of this space Red Yurt references not only the controversial Soviet Likbez (“liquidation of illiteracy”) campaign among women in Central Asia, but also the sacrifice of the women oppressed by the new wave of patriarchal orthodoxy, which came along with the freedom of Kyrgyzstan from Soviet power.1 One example of this is in the tradition of bride-kidnapping, or Ala kachuu (meaning “to take a young woman and run away”). While the tradition was suppressed during Soviet rule, it has re-appeared in Kyrgyzstan’s search for a new/old identity after the collapse of the USSR.
A reflection and artistic digestion on this phenomenon of becoming the nation unfolds inside the Red Yurt in a video installation showing the performance of actress Gulmira Tursunbaeva, who plays the role of a TV host telling feminist fairy tales as the video cuts to scenes of dance and street performance. The stories in this film are based on my interviews with the Bishkek seamstresses, material from the human rights organisation Open Line and materials from the Moscow archive of female workers in the USSR. The dark clothes and puppets together with the curtain inside the structure reference the terrifying symbol of bride-kidnapping: koshogo, a sheet used as a screen behind which rape takes place, leading to forced marriages. Outside, the yurt is decorated by the outcome of my workshops with Felt Art Studio, Issyk Kul, which I have visited during my research in Kyrgyzstan in 2021. The felt paintings displayed at Framer Framed have been produced in collaboration with the studio, based on my sketches and through their felt production method.
To speak of activism sounds confusing in this context of misery and despair, but I have approached my collaboration with the seamstresses in Kyrgyzstan as a way of processing the huge gap between us, and an attempt at building forms of support and sharing that might exist between myself and these women.
1 Szálkai, Kinga. “The Soviet Union as a ‘Feminist Colonialist?’ The Women’s Question in Early Soviet Central Asia.” Corvinus Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 4, No. 1 (2019): pp. 4-14.
Framer Framed presents To those who have no time to play, the largest solo exhibition by the Amsterdam-based artist Gluklya (Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya), curated by Charles Esche.
In keeping with her previous work, the exhibition involves many collaborators from Kyrgyz textile workers and recent migrants to the Netherlands to musicians and writers.
The exhibition is structured around four elements, each with its own unique architecture. These are two yurts, a dome, and a stage on which there will be occasional live performances. The works take us from Amsterdam to Bishkek, and via St. Petersburg back to Amsterdam again.
We are pleased to invite you to the exhibition To those who have no time to play for a review. During the opening, curator Charles Esche, artist Gluklya and select collaborators will be present. Reserve a spot by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
1093 KS, Amsterdam
13 October 2022, 19:00-21:00
14 October 2022 – 22 January 2023
Tuesday – Sunday, 12:00-18:00
To see the full info go to Detailed Info
The idea to create this performance in the context of the long-term project Matras Platform came to me after the start of the war in Ukraine. Since 2012 I was busy developing the concept of a theatre for migrants, where professional and nonprofessional actors might blend their energies to create a performance together. During the pandemic, I came to realise the necessity to call for collaborators living here in Amsterdam, and after my first meeting with Khalid Jone from We Are Here (a refugee action collective), the title came: Matras Platform. It derived from our sessions of writing questions on mattresses left out on the streets, directed to the city as an open environment for exploring a new way of communication. We started to meet regularly at my studio, talking on different topics, developing trust and trying to understand what kind of performance we should produce which might unite us despite gender, status and experience differences.
But 24 February 2022 changed everything. Following the outbreak of the war, I proposed to read the tragedy Antigone written by Sophocles. The core Matras Platform group accepted it, and we agreed that I would write the script to then be debated and developed from meeting to meeting. The trust necessary in this process was facilitated by amazing Marianne Koeman. The war also brought an old friend again: I started to correspond with composer Vladimir Rannev and proposed him to write music to our performance, introducing him to my dream of combining singing dresses and live performance together. Through our communication, we developed the structure of this multimedia installation combining soft- and hardware programming with the synchronization of sound and light.
The choice to work with the classic play came largely as a result of thinking how to show the enormous gap between Europe and the rest of the world. Ancient Greek mythology is ruling the game here, penetrating our cultural environment with codes that only people who grew up with them can understand, leaving the newcomers outside the magic circle. Our sessions in studio became like a school of sharing and unlearning these codes together.
The first thing that struck me when I was reading Antigone in Russian was Antigone’s double attempt to bury her brother. My second thought was the realisation of the absence of enslaved people in the story, and another intriguing thing was the doubt of the sentry, who after capturing Antigone said, But here is what is very strange: I felt sadness coming over me,which showed his unsureness in what he had done.
After reading several versions of Antigone, I was inspired mostly by Bonnie Honig Antigone Interrupted, who interestingly speculates around the topic of the double burial and the role of Ismene, Antigone’s sister.1 In my script, I dramatized the preposition that the sisters did the heroic deed together, highlighting the topic of a sororal politics, feminist sisterhood and the problems with self-organisation among women. The doubt of the sentry is emphasised in the performance by splitting the character between the singing dress on the stage and a live performance by Shepherd Camara. The general structure of Antigone Update remains from the classic tragedy, but with a twist of protagonists who sing from the stage and a chorus who speaks from our times.2
Documenta 15 is great this year! Really really ..
It is trespassing all the conventional norms in terms of how the perception of the public should be structured: focus on the values as sharing and caring is prevalent and obviously etic is dominating on esthetic in a good way.
It does not mean that there is no good and beautiful works. A lot of them!
The enormous number of artists invited, 1500! Artists are invited other artists, not any single “famous “in terms of selling’s artists involved
And on top of that, the scandal around the topic of the trauma of WWII, provoked a great solidarity among artists, one more time proving that the values of the socialism are still alive and strong. This generosity triggered us to contribute with a performative spontaneous gesture of taking art works by People’s Justice by Taring Padi down from the exhibition by adding to the display this example of the Utopian Dress, regarding a very recent R/U War, which brought an immense global impact.