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Presentation by Ekaterina Sharova and moderated by Brandon LaBelle
Seminar #2

Seminar #2 is led by Ekaterina Sharova (art historian, curator, producer, educator) who will present her current research devoted to folk culture in the Northern Russia, seen in the light of L. Vygotsky, J. Beuys, P. Bourdieu and P. Freire.


Ekaterina Sharova 'Everyone is an artist. Folk art: a radical reading'

Territory of contemporary Euro-Arctic Russia seems to be the most exciting and undiscovered region in the country. The territory of the North has been the most remote region in Russia, where the ancient epos of Kievan Rus and Novgorod republic have been preserved for several centuries, such as bylina, skomoroshina, plach, and the whole number of pagan and Christian rituals connected to the year circle and life of the Northern peasant. During the rapid industrialization in the North in 1930s, local culture started to be gradually replaced by Soviet propaganda, when ancient folklore bylinas (live documentation of the oral history of Russia) were replaced by novinas (epos about political leaders of the new state), and where Christian architecture in the North has been destroyed by supporters of the new ideology. Oral history, visual culture, wooden architecture of the North is just awaiting its digitalization, research and international attention, as its fate during USSR can be a lesson how non-sustainable innovations can lead to destruction of own heritage, but also to the beauty of the ancient texts, images and ways of life. 

Since 1990s, after the heavy collapse of USSR, there are many challenges with identity and local heritage, with global popular culture taking over the existing markets, and where the old-fashioned management approach does not seem to give results anymore. New, sustainable methods seem urgent and necessary. 

What can a producer and curator do in this complicated context, where culture is still run under plan economy principles, where participatory budgets, scholarships and state funding competitions just start to appear? How to make an expression which will have an applied value for the local audience? How to put the audience in the very center of production and to develop effective mechanisms of knowledge exchange between local and international experts? How the processes of re-discovery of the heritage can empower local people? What is folk art and folk culture today? Who is actually the artist, in the very end?


Ekaterina Sharova
Curator and producer working with interdisciplinary experiments, ecology of culture in the Post-Soviet context, education, aesthetics of everyday life, models of alternative economy and decentralization. Guest lecturer at Northern (Arctic) State University. Has written for, Klassekampen, Nytid, Billedkunst. 

Since 2012, Ekaterina has been involved on developing contemporary art scene and creative industries in Euro-Arctic region of Russia, support of young artists and producers, education and promotion of innovation and creative thinking. In 2014, she created Arctic Art Institute together with other artists and sociologists. Arctic Art Institute is an independent group of producers, who have collaborated with Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (Moscow), Collectio del Museo Ruso (Malaga), Kunsthall Stavanger, and a number of other institutions, however so far it has still remained a grassroot group. 

[Photo: ’March 8, 2015’. By Ekaterina Sharova]

The seminar is open and free. No registration needed.

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