Gluklya and Tsaplya on Romanticism, Motherhood and Social Art

The Labor and Breath of Romanticism

In the art world, Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya and Olga Egorova are better known as Gluklya and Tsaplya. Residents of Petersburg, they have worked together for many years, producing performances, installations, and video works. Their work extends beyond the confines of gallery art. For example, Gluklya and Tsaplya’s videos have been screened several times at the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, one of the major forums for international contemporary visual art. Film critic Anjelika Artyukh met with them during this year’s festival. Continue reading “Gluklya and Tsaplya on Romanticism, Motherhood and Social Art”

Free Babi Badalov!

Babi Badalov is an old friend of ours. From the late eighties until the late nineties, Babi was one of the brightest figures on the Petersburg independent art scene, especially that part of it that centered on the artists squat at Pushkinskaya 10. When the squat was closed, in the late nineties (to be replaced by an “official” alternative arts center with much less room for artist studios and independent creativity), Babi fell on hard times, eventually returning to his home country of Azerbaijan. He continued to pursue his art there, although under quite different circumstances. Not only is Babi a radical artist in the personal sense of the word, he is also openly gay. Faced with a society that was growing both less tolerant of political dissent and becoming more socially conservative, Babi found a new home in Cardiff, Wales. There he has become fully integrated into the local arts community. He has also become the focus of a spirited campaign, led by No Borders South Wales, to support his asylum application and, in the last few months, after his application was rejected, to resist his repatriation to Azerbaijan.

On September 16, Babi was detained during his weekly sign-in at the UK Border Agency and taken to the Rumney Police Station. On Thursday morning, Babi was transferred to the Campsfield Immigration Removal Centre. It has now been learned that British authorities are planning to deport him to Azerbaijan on Saturday, on an Azerbaijan Airlines flight from London to Baku. Continue reading “Free Babi Badalov!”

Ekaterina Degot on Saying No to War in Russia

The war hasn’t ended: it’s only getting started. The war is on and that means all of us—people who write, talk, and think—are walking on a minefield. On a minefield of words. We have to be very careful about what we say, to make sure we don’t let the war slip into our words and thus become its accomplices.

Anti-War Protest in Petersburg
Anti-War Protest in Petersburg

Today things are said that provoke in me an instantaneous reaction of protest, rage, and the desire to struggle. Because I know what is behind such words. Or, at least, what such words might mean. Even if the danger is hypothetical, it is wrong to talk that way all the same. There are moments in history when seemingly neutral words—for example, “Russian” or “Jew”—cease to be neutral. The political context strips them of their neutrality, and these are moments when naively ignoring this context is a crime. Continue reading “Ekaterina Degot on Saying No to War in Russia”