Russian bar: work in progress

  • Debates 'Why Russia' as a part of the Insomnia Festival in October, 2014, Tromsø
    1/1 | Debates 'Why Russia' as a part of the Insomnia Festival in October, 2014, Tromsø
Small Projects, 23 Grønnegata, Tromsø
09.04.2015 - 19:00

In their lecture at Small projects TOK curators Anna Bitkina and Maria Veits will speak about various activist and social practices in contemporary Russian art and will present to the residents of Tromsø the idea of their new project Russian bar that the collective wants to realize in town in 2016. 

'Russian Bar'. Nomadic Discursive Platform 

The project idea was developed following the curatorial visit of TOK to Tromsø on October 19-23, 2014 as a part of the Norwegian – Russian visual arts network program.
Cultural Diplomacy
Nowadays when the various mass media broadcast their news in accordance with the political program of their state, it is important to retain the ability for independent thinking, analyze the news, use various sources of information, listen stories of different eyewitnesses and build people to people relations in order to resist political propaganda which leads to fear and hatred between different nations. In their new initiatives curators of TOK would like to take a responsibility and play a role of cultural diplomats by presenting a project ‘Russian Bar’ - a platform for discussions, collective thinking, cultural collaborations and informal gatherings. This project is important for a support of the existing cross-cultural ties between Russia and Norway, which have traditionally been strong and should be maintained this way. It is crucial especially now in a situation when Russia tend to be in cultural isolation due to the recent political events. In this context, the ongoing exchange of information and cultural initiatives between two countries is especially necessary. Through different art and multidisciplinary events curators of TOK would like to present a complexity of political and social situation in Russia that might appear different then it is broadcasted by Western media. The composed program will give a chance for representatives of different Russian art and academic communities to express their positions and opinions about social and political situation in Russia. The project will also serve as a platform for a discussion on Russian-Norwegian cross-border political and social relation, common history and culture.
'Russian Bar' and its program
The pop-up bar will appear in a central spot of Tromso and will function for a month like a regular place for intellectual informal gatherings. The bar will exist in the city for a month or so and will have an intensive program curated by curators of TOK. Events will touch upon the latest tendencies in Russian contemporary visual and performative art as well as in music, film and literature. The program will have a multidisciplinary section where invited Russian and Norwegian professionals will discuss issues related to common culture and history between Russia and Norway, cross-border relation, hidden and not often outspoken past events, economical and political relations. With this section the project aims to present knowledge that have been developed over decades by Russian and Norwegian scientists and thinkers. 'Russian Bar' will be a place where such knowledge will be presented for a broader audience in order to have a better outreach for this knowledge. 'Russian Bar' will be also a platform to foster collaboration between Norwegian and Russian artists, performers, thinkers and academics as well as to be a place where already started collaborations between professionals in Barents region could be performed and presented. 'Russian Bar' is a site specific platform that will respond to interests and needs of a local art community and local residents. Being in Tromso we have found out that there is a need in the region for an alternative to media knowledge about nowadays Russia. We hope that by setting up our project 'Russian Bar' in Tromso we will create a better understanding of Russia which will help to reduce political and social tension in neighbouring countries. We would like to involve Russian community in Tromso and in the North of Norway and Russia into the bar's activities. Russian food made in a format of collective cooking and Russian drinks will be served in the Bar. We also would like to invite women from Russian market in Kirkines to Tromso to sell their goods and participate in an outdoor picnic of Russian food as a part of 'Russian Bar' activities. TOK sees the ‘Russian Bar’ project as an ongoing and mobile activity that could pop up in different countries and in collaboration with different institutions. Tromso will be the first location of the ‘Russian Bar’ project.
How to do it?
The pop-up bar will function as a regular bar. To open it up a suitable empty place should be found and rented for 1-2 months. A team of locals (maybe a group of students from the Art Academy) will run it and manage the profit from selling drinks and simple food. We might find someone from a Russian community in Tromso who could cook Russian food in the bar. We would like to create an intensive program for 3-4 weeks so almost every night or every second evening there will be an event (discussion, screening, concert, performance, lecture, reading etc) in the bar with a participation of Russian and Norwegian participants. We would like to invite artists and designers based in Tromso to work with us on the design of the bar.