From Dec 24 to Jan 27
Article | International

Testimonies of the Canary

Outpost of the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Étienne in Saint-Petersburg

par Maria MoreiraBy Dmitry Vilensky (Chto Delat? collective)

& Maria Moreira

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I am the Canary, Azimuts 54 © Karolina Borkowska, CyDRe

The Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne had to open in April 2021 under the theme of Bifurcations . The event, which has entered a state of bifurcation itself, has been postponed for a year due to the pandemic. 

Meanwhile, the theme has not lost its meaning - we are still in an uncertain state and do not know what forms of development our pandemic, economic and psychological crisis societies will choose.

From the outset, the St Petersburg collective Chto Delat? (What is to be done?) was invited to the Biennale by the curators of the exhibition "A l'interieur de la production" of the Cycle Design Recherche de l'Esadse (CyDRe), with an original creation - a learning mural, which was to be created with students from the Saint-Etienne Higher School of Art and Design. After the project was postponed, the participants wanted to maintain the process of collaborative work and communication. They decided to overcome the forced distance by inviting the partners from St. Etienne  to make an outpost of the Biennale in St. Petersburg, and thus support the emerging trend of decentralization of large European projects and their closer and more convivial interaction with their participants in different local contexts.
In this new situation, the idea of a collective and educational creative process is organically continued by inviting students from the St. Petersburg School of Engaged Art to work on the project.

The central piece created during this research residency in St. Petersburg is a collective mural under the working title Testimonies of the Canary. It is a compilation of the participants' collective observations of the processes taking place in our societies and our bodies.

The metaphor refers to the history of Saint-Etienne, a former mining town, and we chose the image of the canary, a bird that miners traditionally took with them to the mines. The canary felt the effects of the deadly gas much earlier than humans. Thus, the silence of the canary warned the miners of the danger.

The Chto Delat? collective proposes to use the metaphor of the canary's testimony – its ability to sense the approach of danger at a time when other creatures are not yet able to recognise it – as an important and rare feature of sensory perception in our time, when we are clearly surrounded by many dangers threatening our lives, the lives of other beings and the memory of lost comrades.

This collective graphic work integrates elements of graphic investigation, creates various alphabets of dangers and signals and presents an archive of threats and losses. The mural is also enriched with various other artistic materials - video performances, objects, sound works and games created by the participants of the two schools (Cydre, Esadse and St. Petersburg School of Engaged Art). The project includes a public programme of lectures, performances and discussions with French and Russian artists, designers and researchers, in cooperation with the Institut Français of Saint-Petersburg and the workshops of the School of Engaged Art.

Opening of the Exhibition Testimonies of the Canary
24 December 2021: Eto Zdes (c’est ici)  Fontanka Naberezhnaya. 90, k. 4, Saint-Pétersbourg, Russie
25 December 2021: DK Roza Bol’shaya Raznochinnaya Ulitsa, 24,Saint-Pétersbourg, Russie
Link to the event

With participation:

Chto Delat: Olga Egorova (Zaplya), Dmitry Vilensky, Nikolay Oleynikov

School of Engaged Art: Fyodor Vecherkovky, Marina Zhukova, Mitya Glavanakov, Daria Gorshakova, Anna Bolsunovskaya, Lena Indrulinas, Anastasiya Kryazhevskaya, Ekaterina Golovenko, Maria Gogol, Mikhail Grishechkin, Varvara Nedeoglo, Friedrich Chernyshev, Maria Kantorovich, Olga Rusakova, Ekaterina Moshkova, Mikhail Oleynikov, Alisa Savelieva, Polina Timofeeva, Alexandr Subbotin, Natasha Shipilova, Alisa Chikmakova, Furen, Liubov Filippova, Galya Khorosheva

Esadse: Ernesto Oroza, director og the Cycle Design Recherche; Laura Ego, Delphine Hyvrier, Thibault Le Page, Alex Delbos-Gomes, designers researchers, CyDRe; accompanied by Maria Moreira, International Affairs

Avec le soutien de l'Institut Français de Saint-Pétersbourg

par Maria MoreiraBy Dmitry Vilensky (Chto Delat? collective)

& Maria Moreira

Lire en français

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