Platform East: Urban Activism in Eastern Europe

Discourse | In English

This event took place before the festival on 28.01.20 in the Grüner Salon of the Volksbühne.

With Alexander Formosov (Dekabristen e.V., Berlin), Zuzanna Hertzberg (artist and activist, Warsaw), Sasha Kurmaz (artist, Kyiv), Lela Rekviashvili (Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde, Leipzig)
Moderation: Tsypylma Darieva (ZOiS, Berlin)

One often hears people speaking of weak civil societies in the Eastern European context. The image of citizens intimidated into political passivity still persists all too stubbornly. Yet anyone taking a closer look is bound to notice that resistance to neoliberal and authoritarian structures has been stirring up in many Eastern European cities. This resistance is expressed in creative forms of protest, artistic interventions, and the (re)appropriation of urban space. Using photos and video material, activists, artists, and social scientists showed how diverse and dynamic contemporary urban activism in Eastern Europe is: from grassroots actions in Russian Murmansk and the mobilisation of street protests against construction projects in Tbilisi, through to artistic interventions in Ukrainian and Polish cities. They discussed the various forms and effects of urban activism in Eastern Europe, while also assessing their regional specificities and global connections.


Alexander Formozov studied History, European Ethnology and Political Science in Moscow and Berlin. Alexander's main focus is on transdisciplinary projects and international exchange in the areas of urbanism, culture, non-formal education and civil society in Eastern Europe. He is currently working at the Dekabristen e.V. as a project coordinator of the educational project ACT|UP. 

Tsypylma Darieva is a social anthropologist and a senior researcher at ZOiS, Berlin. Together with Carola Neugebauer she edited the forthcoming volume Urban Activism in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Practices and Strategies, DOM Publishers.

Zuzanna Hertzberg is a painter, author of installations, performative actions and artivist. She deals with subjects of memory and body, as well as issues related to a broad sense of identity and geopolitics. Zuzanna earned her PhD degree at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts (2018) and participated in a number of exhibitions in Poland and abroad. She is member of Antifascist Coalition as well as co-founder of Jewish Antifascist Block.

Sasha Kurmaz is a post-conceptual multi-disciplinary artist with a graffiti background. In his artistic practice, he uses photography, urban intervention, and performative situations through which he analyzes the social and political interrelationships that address themes both poetic and political. His work is at once direct and open to interpretation.

Lela Rekhviashvili is a post-doctoral researcher at Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography, Leipzig. She is interested in political economy of post-socialist transformation(s), urban informality and mobility, and social movements. Her publications theorise intersection of marketization, social embeddedness and informality. Her upcoming research project will look into counter-hegemonic thought and practice of civil societies in former Soviet peripheries. 


Platform East
Which forms of civic engagement exist in Eastern Europe? Which agents are participating in the restructuring of public space? How has collective memory changed in the post-Soviet era? The new series Platform East will raise these questions and many others as part of the transcultural festival POSTWEST. Academics, artists, and activists from Central and Eastern Europe as well as various experts on Eastern Europe will address the socially relevant issues that affect their everyday lives: the freedom of art and media, the politics of memory and the construction of identities, generational relationships and conflicts as well as protest against political systems. Bringing together these different professions will produce mental collages that expand epistemic horizons and serve as the starting point for diverse future scenarios and a collective utopia of POSTWEST.

The series Platform East is a collaboration between the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) and the Volksbühne Berlin. Through panel discussions, films, lecture performances, and other formats, the series will function as a platform in the truest sense: at the intersection of art and science, it moves past the existing homogenous images of Eastern Europe and offers space for political, societal, and cultural diversity.

In cooperation with the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS)