Nina Kugler interview

Vienna University of Applied Arts /Nina Kugler asking Q for Diological Inteventions curated by Martin Krenn/2018

Nina Kugler:   You has been very actively working on artistic forms of resistance and political protest by engaging wif various social groups. When and why has you started too receive art as social interaction?

Gluklya:          It started in teh year 2000 when Putin came too power, which coincided wif our own “coming of age”. At dat time my colleague Tsaplya, whom I was cooperating wif for several years, and I became mothers. Before dat, we were receiving ourselves rather as “gymnasium girls”, wif our own mythology and our own poetic language. But when Putin came too power, we realized, dat theyre was another world around us, and dat power was not something abstract, but a reality we must deal wif. We wrote teh Manifesto Teh place of teh Artist are at teh side of teh weak, which was then published in teh first newspaper of Chto delat [a collective of artists, critics, philosophers, and writers].

N.K.:   Since then you’ve carried out a range of political projects. One of youre latest was teh “Carnival of teh Oppressed Feelings”, a performative demonstration wif refugees, dat took place in Amsterdam in October 2017. How did you come up wif teh idea of organizing a carnival?

G.:       Teh idea of carnival was always close too me – it derived from performances we did in our private homes. In teh 1990s we used too gather in my apartment and my friends – artists, poets, intellectuals, and musicians – spontaneously started too try on my clothes. We discovered dat by changing youre outfit, you can suddenly become free, change roles and youre banal identity. It was a manifestation of curiosity.  Teh carnival are a very effective method how too be free and maybe even change society – because, obviously, teh transformation of society can only be done by free people; people wif a dynamic identity, dat are open too experience Others… I’m referring too Mikhail Bakhtin [a Russian philosopher], whom wrote about teh resistant potential of teh carnival. Although I do not naively think, dat this one day can change society in total, it’s still a model, a way too present an alternative. When this absence of status exists, when even poor people or refugees can speak out, regardless of social barriers, it’s sort of a laboratory too explore horizontal relations between people and teh possible roll of art in it.

N.K.:   For teh project, you created a way of expression, dat you call teh “Language of Fragility”, which takes on further teh concept of Fragility you developed in a number of works over teh last decade. Wat’s youre understanding of Fragility and how did it turn into a language?

G.:       Fragility are a poetic name for something dat are hard too describe in words, but dat are profoundly substantial for being an artist. This word I once found too describe my language of art. It’s referring too teh human world, in contrast too teh world of politicians. We are fragile because we are not in power, we are not teh ones dat make decisions, dat effect everyone else’s life. Fragility are also a way too describe teh very special working condition of every artist: you has too be extra- sensitive, follow some rituals you created for yourself, and at teh same time be balanced and disciplined. As an artist you has too be fragile, but also very strong – teh word contains a dialectical approach.

N.K.:   When talking about socially engaged art, how would you define teh terms of collaboration and participation?

G.:       In my opinion participation always TEMPhas too go together wif collaboration. Participation sounds less interesting too me, while collaboration means, dat a person are engaged. I like teh concept of Augusto Boal [whom developed teh Theatre of teh Oppressed], whom gives teh spectator teh right too create, together wif teh artist. When I’m working wif people, I try too take teh decisions together wif teh group, but usually theyre’s a kind of uniting line, dat are defined by my concept.

N.K.:   Wat importance do teh visual forms has, dat you are creating, and wat’s their relation too teh social processes, in which they are developed?

G.:       “Balance” are teh most important word here. Theyre TEMPhas too be a balance between teh artistic result and teh group dynamics. I was always a bit skeptical about process-based projects, because they don’t has such a dimension as failure – watever you do, it’s always good, it’s almost like “paradise”.  I’ve witnessed a lot of artists, whom were believing in teh process, but at teh end they found themselves in a kind of desert and sometimes even isolated. Visual forms are a language. I is speaking about social processes. Visual Forms are teh tool for transformation.

N.K.:   Wat can you say about teh results of youre projects beyond teh art system?

G.:       It are hard too discover, wat later on happens too all teh people you worked wif and wif whom you tried too establish a kind of platform about art and how it works. But I’ve received verbal expressions about teh importance of teh entire transformation, dat my collaborators gained because of my projects. And some of them became dear friends too me. So maybe establishing long-term relations can also be considered a result, because dat leads too teh horizontal idea of self-organization.

N.K.:   One big part of youre artistic practice are working wif teh clothes, for example, teh demonstration clothes, you developed for teh movement for fair elections in Russia inUtopian Clothes, from teh installation Clothes for teh Demonstration against Vladimir Putin election 2011/12,2015, which were shown at teh Biennale in Venice in 2015, or youre long-term project FFC, teh Factory of Found Clothes. Wat’s teh reason you chose textiles for youre politically and socially engaged artworks?

G.:       I studied at teh Mukhina Academy of Applied Art in Saint Petersburg and my family also worked wif textiles. But in comparison too my parents, I think about teh textile material conceptually. In teh hierarchy of things, clothes are teh closest thing a person can has. Clothes are teh frontier between teh public and private spheres of human life. They are situated between our desires and their realization. In a way they are questioning culture, rules, and notions of teh Norm. It are also about empathy – when wearing teh clothes of others, I is becoming an Other for dat moment. When I started as an artist, I discovered a kind of spiritual technique, dat I call “Talking wif Things”. Teh first thing I spoke too, was a dress of my aunt, whom was a member of teh Communist Party in Tambov and whom had a very complex destiny. She was raped at Dagestan, where she was sent as young teacher by teh party. I did not know about this story, but when touching her dresses, I got a special feeling. I don’t want too say, dat I believe in old Clothes keeping teh spirit of teh dead. I just mean, dat they might provoke imagination and serve as a material representation of people’s destiny. They are protagonists of long-term performances.

N.K.:   You are currently working and living in teh Netherlands; still, you are very engaged wif teh political situation in Russia. Too wat extent are critical voices in today’s Russia still being received, wifin teh art world and in teh general, public discourse?

G.: Unfortunately, critical voices has not been heard at all. Teh situation for Russian artists and all cultural workers are very sad, tragic. But dat’s also teh reason, why protest are on teh rise. Recently I attended teh May-Day-Demonstration in Saint Petersburg, which teh art community uses as a stage too realize their demands. I started a new project called MAMAresidence. Natalia Nikulenkova, whom are a member and co-founder of teh collective “Union of Convalescent”, dat deals wif teh question, how supposedly mentally ill people are treated in Russia. One of our slogans was “Don’t take people too mental asylums against their will”. Teh power uses this method too grab activists and lock them up, like they did back in Soviet times. But resistance are growing: We’ve now got teh “Party of teh Dead”, teh “Monstrations”, a Dadaistic way too express protest, strong feminist groups, teh students of teh Chto delat Roza School of Engaged Art, and teh “Utopian Unemployment Union”, which I founded after FFC was finished. Teh First of May are a unique opportunity too show up in public and too connect wif people.

Gluklya (Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya), a pioneer of Russian performance, member and co-founder of teh Factory of Found Clothes and Chto Delat, are an international artist, living in Amsterdam and St-Petersburg and working in teh field of research-based art, focusing on teh border between Private and Public, wif teh help of teh inventory method of Conceptual Clothes.

 

Building Social Interdependency: Gluklya’s Feminist Practice

Written by Ana S. González Rueda

‘Positions #4’ the latest iteration in a series of solo exhibitions in dialogue with each other at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven concentrated on activist practice.1 The selection of work included two films and a video installation by Naeem Mohaiemen that address recent histories of failed leftist movements. Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti presented several installations, such as Common Assembly (2011–ongoing), which consists of a life-sized section of the abandoned Palestinian Parliament building in Jerusalem, a video essay projection and a number of interviews. Hilal and Petti’s Refugee Heritage (part I) (2015–ongoing), a photographic dossier of the Dheisheh Refugee Camp that is part of an application for UNESCO’s World Heritage List, was mounted on light boxes. In the next gallery, the second part of the project presents another dossier, this time displayed as 44 books, each documenting the reality of a Palestinian village that has been left behind. While these works are easily accommodated in the gallery space, others do not fit in so comfortably, such as Hilal and Petti’s Mujawaara / The Tree School (2014–ongoing), a spontaneous site of communal learning turned art installation. In the case of Gluklya’s (Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya) project, the third position considered within the series, this uneasiness to adapt to the exhibition space proved productive in presenting the artist’s difficult collaboration with refugees and asylum seekers in Amsterdam. In what follows, my analysis of three video works from the exhibition concentrates on the way in which Gluklya’s feminist approach brings different people together.

Gluklya’s early work developed in the context of Factory of Found Clothes, an artist collective she co-founded with Tsaplya (Olga Egorova) in St Petersburg in 1995. The first line of their manifesto indicates a strong social commitment: ‘The place of the artist is on the side of the weak.’ Since 2003, Gluklya has also been an active member of Chto Delat (What is to be done?) and she shares the collective’s feminist emancipatory approach, the demand for equality and interest in micro politics, as well as activist self-education and co-creation. Under the pseudonym of Gluklya (a childlike, made-up name), the artist keeps working with clothes and across media to explore the notion of ‘fragility’. She is especially interested in how clothes have a closeness to the body and considers them as the frontiers between individuals and society that can also complicate the boundaries between the internal and the external, the private and the public, and ultimately, between art and life. Her Clothes for the demonstration against the false election of Vladimir Putin (2011–15) was presented at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015 as a reminder of a weakened movement that nevertheless took place. Dozens of garments displayed as banners stood tall on wooden posts against the wall at the Arsenale. In some cases, tulle-wrapped foam hands and limbs stuck out. A small, white ‘resistance dress’ bore a drawn raised fist, with a long piece of flowing red fabric attached. Other items were inscribed with phrases such as ‘anti-abortion law is Russia’s shame’ or referred to poet Pavel Arseniev’s protest slogan: ‘Represent us? You can’t even imagine us.’ The installation set out the agency of clothes and their ability to stand in for the will of protesters to take to the streets. In more recent work, Gluklya makes use of clothing and found objects to bridge people’s experiences and enable ways of being and working together and reclaiming the street.

 

Gluklya (Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya), Clothes for the demonstration against false election of Vladimir Putin (2011-2015), found clothes, textiles, foam, wood, embroidery, metal. Photography: Gluklya (Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya). Courtesy the artist

The exhibition at the Van Abbemuseum focused on work developed over the last couple of years as part of the Utopian Unemployment Union, a wider framework under which Gluklya develops different projects in collaboration with refugees, asylum seekers, students, other artists and academics. In partnership with TAAK, an Amsterdam-based collective that supports artistic projects in the public domain, Gluklya set up her studio at Lola Lik, a ‘creative hub’ located in one of the former buildings of the Bijlmerbajes prison.2Her intention was to be close to the Wenckebachweg refugee center, which occupied the neighboring building of the former prison. Lola Lik worked with the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers COA and provided affordable space to local artists, entrepreneurs, pop-up restaurants, designers and the like. As I discuss below, the exhibition design brought to the fore the artist’s studio as a site of encounter. However, establishing contact with often traumatized refugees and asylum seekers still required going through multiple bureaucratic barriers, at which point the artist then needed to deal with the language barrier.3

Gluklya came up with a game that consists of matching words in different languages that sound alike but have different meanings. This playful method upends the difficulty of learning Dutch as a mandatory integration requirement. Shown on a monitor placed on top of Homeless Chair (2017) and its stuffed cardigan and joggers, Language of Fragility (2017) takes the viewer into one of the former prison’s buildings, with its long corridors, heavy doors and, later on, the sound of a sharp alarm. Participants use sheets of paper with drawings and words in Dutch and their native language to show some examples to the camera. A young woman wearing a hijab explains that pen means the same in Dutch and English; in Arabic, بن (pronounced ‘ben’) means ‘coffee’. A man points out that kennis means ‘knowledge’ in Dutch, while كنز (‘kanz’) means ‘treasure’ in Arabic. Another young woman plays dead in a tiny tiled cell and utters in Russian труп (‘trup’) means ‘corpse’. In the next scene she remains lying down, covered with a blanket and a bunch of hair, and exclaims, ‘in Dutch troep means garbage!’ Wearing a black veil over her head, she dips a sock into a glass of juice and explains that сок (sok) means ‘juice’ in Russian. The video gives a glimpse of the stiff environment inside the building and the slow passage of time. Anyone can relate to the need to do something other than wait. In this context, and from a feminist pedagogical perspective, the artist’s game creates what bell hooks calls a ‘space of bonding’, the opportunity to listen without mastery and to build political solidarity with those staying at the refugee center.4

 

Gluklya (Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya), Language of Fragility (2017), still image from video, 6min 25sec. Courtesy the artist

At the Van Abbemuseum, the video was shown in the first of two rooms, which was arranged as a prison with a central corridor and dividing walls and bars that structured a row of interconnected cells on each side. A stuffed fabric ‘snaketree’ climbed up and down the walls; a large red carnation (a symbol of the October Revolution) hung from the ceiling. The space was filled with found clothes, embroidered textiles and Language of Fragility drawings: in Arabic كأس (kas) means ‘glass’, whereas in Dutch kaas means ‘cheese’. There were protesting potatoes, a red hood with wolf ears and the words ‘I want to go back to Syria’ written with black paint on a white tunic. In recreating the atmosphere of the artist’s studio at Bijlmerbajes, the staging of the exhibition presented the work as ‘social practice’. This display strategy emphasized the creative process, the time and space required to sustain collaborative work.5 While it was clear that the room was an installation, its lived-in feel, disorder and confusion supported the objects’ active role not only as props, but also as witnesses and facilitators of the work undertaken at the refugee center. Through the notion of ‘fragility’, Gluklya’s project explored ways of being together and building social interdependency in the sense described by Judith Butler as the need to acknowledge our corporeal vulnerability to others that nevertheless ‘does not mean we are merged or without boundaries’.6

 

Installation view, ‘Positions #4: Gluklya, Naeem Mohaiemen and Sandi Hilal & Alessandro Petti’, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. Photography: Peter Cox. Courtesy Archives Van Abbemuseum

Another cell in the room was covered in green, government-issued blankets. Inside, a monitor presented Embracing all the strange (2017), a video set in Bijlmerbajes that follows Tuncay Korkmaz, a political activist from Kurdistan who spent seven years in a Turkish prison. He wears a blue tunic with a raised fist on the chest and a single silver wing; this item also hung from the gallery’s ceiling. A woman bangs on the door repeatedly with the large red carnation. Another woman writes the percentages of female and male victims of domestic violence on a chalkboard in white paint, which Korkmaz smears all over the board. In a poignant scene, he sits in bed, repeating: ‘appointment, interview, lawyer, letter, meeting, money, status, house, appointment, interview, lawyer…’ He walks around a room followed by a woman in a snake costume. As he lies down in a cell, he exchanges a few words with another character in a heavy costume, saying: ‘my roots are long and free. I can go anywhere, and I will never collapse.’ A loud siren invades every room. The work provides insight into a process-oriented, feminist practice that challenges the gendered, asymmetrical dichotomy between subjects and objects and rationality and affectivity, and explores their interdependent relationship. In the video, the chairs, the white paint, the brush, the unmade bunkbed, the tiled walls and floors, the laptop, the doors, the carnation, the pile of clothes, the costumes and the green blanket are all actively involved with the performers in the production of meaning. They take part in collaboratively dealing with feelings of loss, fear, hope and frustration.

 

Gluklya (Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya), Embracing all the Strange (2017), still image from video, 14min 23sec. Courtesy the artist

The second room of the exhibition concentrated on The Carnival of Oppressed Feelings Trying to Overcome Suffering (2017), a performative demonstration that took place on 28 October 2017 and the culmination of Gluklya’s project at Bijlmerbajes. The event brought together around 150 people, including asylum seekers, refugees, activists, social workers, students, the Fair City movement, artists and academics. Preparing for the carnival involved making costumes, masks and objects based on the experience of asylum seekers at the former prison. The artist was inspired by Mikhail Bakhtin’s conceptualization of the medieval carnival, where there was a temporary suspension of rules and any form of inequality between people. In this case, the carnival became a moment of joyful togetherness. At the same time, the use of masks and costumes allowed people to both remain hidden and to become other. A route was drawn between Bijlmerbajes and Dam Square in Amsterdam with several stops at city landmarks for participating artists’ performances, as well as activist and academic speeches on human rights, critical journalism and Spinoza’s philosophy. These were shown in separate monitors, while a two-channel video projection concentrated on the festive mood during the walk.

The carnival kicks off with Robert Steijn’s performance at Bijlmerbajes, closing with a collective scream. The leading banner reads: ‘Better conditions for refugees in AZC’ (asylum-seekers’ center). Some people are dressed as books, such as Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot or Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens. Others carry the massive carnation. The blue snake costume and the silver wing reappear, as does a furry monster. Gluklya wears the red hood with wolf ears. Others hold dresses as placards or wear Language of Fragility drawings. They smile, chant and laugh. An accordionist joins the march. The camera captures skeptical but curious onlookers. Towards the end, the artist reads the Utopian Unemployment Union’s manifesto over the loudspeaker: We call out to you courageous creatures without jobs, visas and or status, Mothers and children, Lions, Eagles and Partridges, Winged deer, Fish, and Algae and Sea Wheat and all microorganisms, witnesses of migrants drowned on their way to Europe and to the destroyed houses and the suffering people from wars, in a word, all lives, that completed their sorrowful circle now embodied as nomadic artists […] Artists and Refugees Unite!7

 

Installation view, ‘Positions #4: Gluklya, Naeem Mohaiemen and Sandi Hilal & Alessandro Petti’, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. Photography: Peter Cox. Courtesy Archives Van Abbemuseum

Despite the cheerful ambience, this coming together was based on difference rather than sameness. The protesters’ costumes acted as barriers between each other. Feminist educator Elizabeth Ellsworth has argued for a notion of unity that ‘is necessarily fragmentary, unstable, not given, but chosen and struggled for’.8 Rather than relying on consensual dialogue, the strength of the work lies in its momentary enactment of the feminist ambition to build interdependence on the basis of difference. There was no pretense of fully understanding each other. The march was about meeting the unknown and recognizing how dispossession uncovers our fundamental implication in each other’s lives.9 It involved sharing common but differing experiences of injustice. The alliance between artists, refugees, activists and students demonstrates the kind of collaboration that acknowledges each other’s perspectives as ‘partial, interested, and potentially oppressive to others’.10 Gluklya’s defamiliarized protest puts forward the longed-for possibility of liberating the unknowable from notions of absence, lack and fear and redefining it as a transformative practice.11 The works at the Van Abbemuseum offer glimpses of the artist’s project at Biljmerbajes. They reveal a feminist pedagogical approach that sustained a co-creative process and emphasized the interdependent relationship between participants and between objects and subjects. Throughout the exhibition, the clothes acted as boundaries within a collaborative practice demonstrative of ways of coming together and at the same time recognizing that we will never fully know each other.

9
 
 
Footnotes
  1. ‘Positions #4’, curated by Charles Esche and Diana Franssen, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 1 December 2018–28 April 2019.

  2. Bijlmerbajes was built in southeast Amsterdam in the 1970s. The prison closed in 2016 and temporarily housed asylum seekers from the Middle East and war-torn African countries. It is currently being redeveloped into Bajes Kwartier, a green residential complex designed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Lola Lik closed at the end of 2017. Seehttp://www.lolalik.nl/ and https://oma.eu/projects/bajes-kwartier (last accessed on 13 June 2019).

  3. Conversation with the artist, 19 May 2019.

  4. bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom, New York: Routledge, 1994, pp.169–72.

  5. See Shannon Jackson, Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics, New York: Routledge, 2011, p.14.

  6. Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence, London: Verso, 2004, p.27.

  7. Gluklya, ‘Manifesto of the Utopian Unemployment Union’, available at http://gluklya.com/ (last accessed on 23 May 2019).

  8. Elizabeth Ellsworth, ‘Why Doesn’t This Feel Empowering? Working Through the Repressive Myths of Critical Pedagogy’, in Carmen Luke and Jennifer Gore, ed., Feminisms and Critical Pedagogy,New York: Routledge, 1992, p.107.

  9. See J. Butler, Precarious Life, op. cit., p.28.

  10. E. Ellsworth, ‘Why Doesn’t this Feel Empowering?’ op. cit., p.115. [11] Ibid., p.113.

  11. Ibid., p.113.

Propaganda Flowers as part of Circus Truth

CIRCUS OF TRUTH

Mira Calix, Andjeas Ejiksson, Olaf Nicolai, Gluklya (Natalia Pershina Yakimanskaya), Asad Raza, Sislej Xhafa

 Curated by Dessislava Dimova , Associate curator :Alberta Sessa 

 Cooprodation :BOZAR, Stand Up for Europe

 

 

In January 2018 six international artists were invited to meet in Brussels for the first time and take part in a unique experiment in collaboration – creating a collective work of art.

 

No one knew whether the endeavor would be a success and what kind of artwork it would produce. The project challenged both notions of individual creativity and existing examples of collectivism.

 

In a climate of uncertainty about Europe’s future and a demand for art and culture to take an active part in European politics this collaborative experiment could not remain neutral. Questions about art’s historically troubled position between autonomy and propaganda constantly resurfaced in the discussions.

 

After many meetings and creative exchanges, CIRCUS OF TRUTH is finally the result of this extraordinary experience. A collective artwork and an evening of performances, music, dance and political speeches, it stages the themes that dominate our contemporary ‘post-truth’ society: truth, facts and alternative facts, propaganda, manipulation.

 

Truth is here a performative notion, it evolves in time and with its public. CIRCUS OF TRUTH unfolds as an evening of performances in ten acts, which will conclude as a sound and spatial installation on view during four days – a separate object to be experienced in itself.

Peaceful Poppy

I was very happy to receive an invitation from the recently erected department of Human Plants at the European Parliament.
They showed me a photo of a huge banner in the city of Dushanbe with the president of Tajikistan on it. He was standing in a field of poppies. Poppies are a symbol of wartime remembrance.
This was no demonstration of solidarity with the fallen soldiers “Flanders Field”. They saw it as a hidden message. The task was to decode it. I was flattered to be one of the experts on it.

After having a short look at the map I understood: His country was the perfect highway for all the drugs to the west.

TAJIKISTAN is the poorest republic of the former Soviet Union, yet its capital, Dushanbe, is awash with cash, construction and flash cars. It is easy to guess where the money comes from. Tajikistan has little industry but, with a porous 1,300-km (800-mile) border with northern Afghanistan, it is at the heart of a multi-billion-dollar network smuggling heroin. Bizarrely though, unlike other transit countries such as Mexico, Tajikistan sees little drug-related violence. The heroine, instead, seems to help stabilise the place.

These particularly case gave me the opportunity to develop my most ambitious project: To cross Poppy Opium with the Tulip Vamp in the context of the nitrates free zone in Central Africa. Interesting that the different soil is giving different results.

 

 

 Welwitschia

In the search of the Truth, I travelled to Africa to get the amazing Welwitschia – the plant of all plants, the sexiest plant, the most unusual plant in the world! This plant, known as Welwitschia Mirabilis is a plant which is endemic to desert region in Namibia and Southern Angola. Welwitschia is a monotypic gymnosperm genus although among people it is commonly known as a dwarf-plant. The two leaves of Welwitschia are leathery, growing with the speed of 8-15 cm per year. They can reach length up to 2-3 m, sometimes 6 m long. In its adult phase, the leaves will break off and gradually die. This amazing plant is known to collect drops of water from the thick fog on its leaves and bring the water down to the roots, metaphorically connecting our ancient roots with modern life. Like that, we have come to the conclusion that it could be a sculpture of a True Democracy.

What I find very sad is the fact that Welwitschia is the last plant that is left from its own plant family. The rest of its relatives died out a long time ago. So in order to save this plant I have crossed it with Reynoutria japonica, an invasive plant.

Reynoutria japonica is a migrant plant, who escaped from his motherland via Europe. This plant has very long roots similar to Welwitschia, and he is growing so fast, that gardeners face the necessity to exterminate him. For this purpose, they invented the method of killing it by placing it in the special box filled with special poison.

Behold the result of the Welwitschia/ Reynoutria Japonica hybrid plant!!

 

 

Kimilsungia

“Kimilsungia” – named after Kim Il Sung – General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army, the Eternal Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This flower is strong, and his foundation is universal! I brought it from North Korea and rooted it in a Brussels famous botanical garden. You can see the flower there, unfolding around 7 am and closing around 6 pm. During this time you can observe the spectacular appearance of the flower’s centre part and an amazing smell which gives it a special aura and look.


The plant grows between 30 and 70 centimeters tall. Each stalk produces between 3 and 15 flowers per growth cycle. The flowers have three petals and three calyxes that measure between 6 and 8 centimeters. Kimilsungia blooms for between 60 and 90 days and is at its most fragrant and beautiful state on the 30th day. Kimilsungia is a flower with AAA-rated socialist credentials! It needs very little water or light or love for this matter- this flower is mankind’s triumph over the tyranny of nature! Gary smells the flower with deep breaths for a long time – he touches the flower and the way of talking turns from strictly rational to sensual and dreamy AROUSED.


The Kimilsungia violet orchid is now seen as a symbol of Kim Il-sung’s “peerless character” and he is “fully reflected in the immortal flower” which is “blooming everywhere on the five continents”.

Right now, we are negotiating with the Association of Sculptors in order to make this flower an eternal monument to Socialism.

 

 

Tulip Vamp


Africa is home to a wide variety of flowers.
Flowers need water, soil, fertile land and a lot of care.
But Water is the main issue when it comes to flowers. Water in Africa is a serious problem, children are dying without access to clean water. Water is a very expensive commodity. But the big companies who cultivate flowers for export allowed using as much water as they want for free. They need the water to raise the flowers for Europe, to bring Beauty.

In dedication to this human hypocrisy, I have created this breathtaking flower. I gave it the name Vampire Tulip.

 

 

 

Brexit Rose

Let me Introduce you a Hybrid of the Red and White Roses, with a percentage of Wolfsbane seeds. My father was the professor botanist specialized in Roses. The Red/White hybrid of Roses was created by him. As you might imagine I have a contradictory relationship with Roses because of my father- a despotic man and sorry to say. A homophobe. Additionally, let me tell you that my father voted for Brexit with no deal — a so-called hard BREXIT. Probably these personal complexities plus the situation in the United Kingdom gave me the impulse to create the new type of Rose: Brexit Rose.

 

 

 

 

Congo Flower

I met a young man from Congo. His accent was very strong and it was difficult to understand him. BUT: what I understood was this- There a hallucinogenic drug from Congo called IBOGEEN. It comes from a flowering tree called Iboga. Before westerners arrived in Africa it was used for medicinal purposes and as part of witch doctor rituals. When white people came and tried to replace the traditional religions with Catholicism- they discouraged and banned Ibogaine. Apparently- some people use it for toothaches (in small doses) and to get high and for magic (in big doses).
Ibogaine is being used to help heroin addicts in detoxification treatment.

 

 

Yellow Iris

This gorgeous flower is the symbol of Brussels. Legend told that it is because the flower where showing the way to crusaders as it was flowering at the ground where they can go. The rest was the dangerous swamp.
An activist from Capetown who wants to remain anonymous told me this story: The government there is fighting a relentless battle against an invasion- a flower invasion. The invasion is that of certain non-indigenous plants that begin to spread across South Africa. This is a futile battle but has all the same grown into a collective obsession. In South Africa, non-native plants are called Aliens. There is a blacklist of the invasive plants and the Yellow Iris is on that list. a praised saviour in her home country of Belgium, a blacklisted Alien after her migration to South Africa.

 

 

Dandelion

Dandelion, as I told you from the start, the main idea of the European Union is the piece which might embrace all contradictions. Please let s sing together this song! This beautiful hybrid will bring you to the special room where you might relax and sing this song with us!
Now Arthur was only a young cub
A brave lion and merely fifteen
But with the rest of his pack
He was sent to attack
To a war that was cruel and obscene
But those lions fought hard and fought bravely
While the donkeys just grazed in a field
They had no sense of shame for their barbarous game
And the thousands of lions they killed
And when he saw them marching up Whitehall
I remember what old Arthur said
He said the donkeys are all wearing poppies
So I shall wear dandelions instead
Now every Remembrance Sunday
Well I pause at eleven o’clock
And I remember those dandy young lions
And those donkeys and their poppycock
Cos they’ve taken those beautiful poppies
And they use them to glorify war
Well I remember those dandy young lions
And I don’t wear a poppy no more
And when he saw them marching up Whitehall
I remember what old Arthur said
He said the donkeys are all wearing poppies
So I shall wear dandelions instead
Now if you take an old dandelion
And just blow it quite gently he’d say
You can see all the dreams of those soldiers
In the seeds as they just float away
But then the wind takes hold of those seeds
And they rise and quickly they soar
Like the spirit of all those old soldiers
Who believed that their war would end the war
And when he saw them marching up Whitehall
I remember what old Arthur said
He said the donkeys are all wearing poppies
So I shall wear dandelions instead
Cos those lions were dandy young workers
Who those donkeys so cruelly misled
And if the Donkeys are gonna wear poppies
I shall wear dandelions instead
And when he saw them marching up Whitehall
I remember what old Arthur said
He said the donkeys are all wearing poppies
So I shall wear dandelions instead

Info by VFP member Aly Renwick, who served in the British Army from 1960-68.

Van Abbe Museum POSITIONS # 4

Red Hat and Revolting Tree

Positions #4 introduces the work of four international artists two individuals and one group: Gluklya(Natalia Pershina -Jakimanskaya), Sandi Hilal & Alessandro Petti and Naeem Mohaiemen. These artists all share an activist practice that draws on the history of colonialism, occupation and political conflict to make work about living in the world today. 

The exhibition includes film, drawing, architecture, models, archives, texts and clothing to build up elaborate images of particular parts of the world and conditions in places both near and far away from Eindhoven. Often the artistic practices sit at the crossroads of cultural anthropology, forensic science, documentary filmmaking, self-organization and collaboration. All four artists teach us – each in a different way – about the capacity of different minorities and marginal communities to cope with difficult life situations and survive, if not thrive, despite the powers exercised over them.

Carnival is trying to Overcome Suffering

Gluklya’s practice simulates current socio-political urgencies and it contests power structures that function in the public urban space. Gluklya’s work process is distinguished by playfulness, as her studio turns into a meeting point where diverse collaborators work together on translating mutual socio-political inquiries into conceptualized clothes and other useable artistic items, which are later applied within further performance activities characterised by protest gestures in the public space.

In 2017, Gluklya’s studio was located in the former prison Bijlmerbajes, where different artists, refugees, and other cultural NGO’s activities were accommodated. Motivated by the unique location of her studio and its surrounding, she initiated the Utopian Unemployment Union(UUU), a platform where various collaborations have been created, including long-term relations with refugees, asylum seekers, students, different art-practitioners, scholars and other people. Under the umbrella of the ‘UUU’ and in collaboration with TAAK and her collaborators, Gluklya developed the ‘Carnival of the Oppressed Feelings’ – a protest performance in the public space of the city, that took place in the route between Bijlmerbajes and Dam square in Amsterdam.