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Colonialism in camouflage

The Radio Disaster Series – Listening session

Mudam announces The Radio Disaster Series: Colonialism in camouflage, a public programme co-curated by the collective Beyond the post-soviet and Mudam. This second edition of The Radio Disaster Series will be devoted to decolonial thinking and how it can be used to critically reflect on and resist the insidiousness of imperialist and colonial rhetoric and practices across Europe and in post-colonial territories.

Chapter I

Imperial violence and occupation in (post-)Soviet territories and beyond

Commissioned by Mudam and curated by Beyond the post-soviet, the first chapter is a response to the urge of acknowledging continued imperial violence in Central Eastern Europe, the Baltic States, the Caucasus, Central Asia and beyond, as well as their long-term repercussions on societies and their expression in visual arts. Beginning in November 2022, Colonialism in camouflage will unfold in a series of offline and online events: a lecture by Epp Annus, a listening session, a close reading of an artwork from the Mudam Collection and workshops for adults and children.

The programme borrows its title from Soviet Postcolonial Studies: A View from the Western Borderlands (2018), a book by literary scholar and writer Epp Annus, who uses the expression ‘colonialism in camouflage’ to highlight diverse strategies of Soviet domination that she considers to be disguised forms of colonialism. Deployed in multiple regions, these strategies entailed territorial occupations, deportations, genocides, man-made famines, repression of local cultures and imaginaries and a conscious eroding of cultural memory. The title also refers to a long history of military violence in these regions, wherein the recent Russian military offensive in Ukraine is not an isolated event but the result of ongoing imperial-colonial strategies and mindset.

The second chapter, starting in January 2023, will expand on these themes and focus on the long-lasting consequences of Western European colonialism. Conceived by Mudam, this part will be curated by Line Ajan, Clémentine Proby and Joel Valabrega.

In response to these issues, the programme seeks to build a safe space with the participants, where theoretical and artistic input, discussions and debates will include individual and collective stories and memories as valuable sources of knowledge. These moments of learning also intend to lead to a collective unlearning of the ideas and perspectives rooted in imperialism and pervading Western societies.

Listening session

How to be anti-colonial? | 04.12.22 | 14h00

Colonialism and coloniality are not the relics of the past: both phenomena continue to influence and shape every aspect of life on the planet until today. If we assume that colonialism often operates under camouflage, how can it be identified and what are the anti-colonial strategies that one can adopt? How do we reverse the logic of camouflage by making the effects and traces of colonialism visible? How can one be anti-colonial, and what is the responsibility of cultural actors and institutions in this struggle? And finally, how do we imagine our common futures: what comes after the Empire, and after the ‘post-soviet’? To reflect on these topics, Beyond the post-soviet invites curator and thinker Vasyl Cherepanyn (Kyiv), artist Lia Dostlieva (Maastricht), artist and curator Tatiana Fiodorova (Chișinău), and philosopher Renata Salecl (Ljubljana), as well as the team and audience at Mudam to form a spontaneous collective. Conveying multiple perspectives, the participants' input will be followed by a group discussion and a Q&A session. In parallel, the presentation of the artwork This Here and That There (Berlin video) (2009) by Vlatka Horvat from Mudam’s collection will offer an artistic insight on the subject of power dynamics that spaces produce, as well as on the ways to destabilise the established hierarchies and narratives by means of deconstructing the spatial order.

Opening Lecture

Colonialism in camouflage and the subaltern who speaks: politics and resistance under Russian rule by Dr. Epp Annus | 06.11.22 | 15h00

Colonialism in all its forms is a global phenomenon that shaped – and continues to shape – policies and practices not only in Asia, Africa and the Americas, but also on the Eurasian continent. Colonial legacies and deep-rooted injustice still determine both human and nonhuman ways of living on our planet. This talk will address the history and legacy of the Russian empire and the Soviet Union from a postcolonial perspective, relying on case studies from the Baltic region and Ukraine. It will be followed by a discussion between Epp Annus, Beyond the post-soviet and the audience.

Beyond the post-soviet
Beyond the post-soviet emerged in 2021 as a non-hierarchical collective, which aims at producing and disseminating knowledge around geographic and cultural regions, previously referred to as ‘post-soviet space’ and ‘post-socialist’ countries. The group approaches research affectively and relies on multiple types of knowledge such as: theoretical knowledge, works of art and fiction, individual and collective stories, memories and emotions. It gathers artists, researchers, thinkers, and curators based in and working across different contexts.