|Experience of Perestroika|
|Perestroika Songspiel, video-film|
|Chronicles of Perestroika, video-film|
|What's Next after Next? Commentary to a video installation|
|Perestroika Time Line|
Why Perestroika? History is not given.
‘The true picture of the past flits by’
These words by Walter Benjamin have the most direct possible relation to the phenomenon of the Perestroyka.
What exactly was this experience? And what does it mean today?
Today, nostalgia for all things Soviet is a popular commodity that is so fluid precisely because its underlying experience has already been hollowed out. As the Soviet experience returns in new capitalist packaging, even the right to interpret its history becomes an object of unabashed speculation.
A host of contemporaries is attempting to construct a comfortable image of the Perestroika as unescapable way to capitalism and to legitimate a flimsy power and a shabby everyday. To interrupt the din of this choir, it makes sense to turn to the central question that Benjamin asks in his theses on the concept of history: who is the subject of history? For those who take on the task of continuing the struggle for emancipation, the answer to this question is unambiguous: ‘not man or men, but the struggling, oppressed class itself is the depository of historical knowledge,’ a class-multitude that clearly realizes and rejects the status quo that fetters its lives, dreams, and the dignity and strength of constituent labor: all those who still remember the pride of belonging to the human struggle for freedom.
If we resign ourselves to the history of the victors, this will be a betrayal of the Perestroika experience. But if we are willing and ready to inherit the Soviet project, we need to rethink it as the history of the oppressed, as a battle for the actualization of the emancipatory potentials repressed in Soviet history and particular at the time of its end. Without this paradoxical gesture, we stand little chance of drawing anything positive from the experience of popular power betrayed.
One of the meanings of art lies in its capacity for actualizing the potentials of the past, which we rush to ‘seize hold of a moment of danger,’ as they are ‘becoming a tool’ in the hands of the victors. Creativity draws closer the moment in which the actualized elements of the past interweave with what is taking place in the presence of the now (Jetztzeit), leading to the composition of a new Event.
This text draws upon Walter Benjamin's ‘On the Concept of History’. The text contains both direct and oblique references to it.