Chto delat’? The Theory and Practice of Critical Intervention: Sven Spieker in Conversation with Dmitry Vilensky (St. Petersburg) (Podcast)


dimitry vilensky

Interview with St. Petersburg-based Dmitry Vilensky (Santa Barbara, March 2, 2010/Sven Spieker). Vilensky is a founding member of the collective Chto delat’. The collective was founded in early 2003 by a group of artists, critics, philosophers, and writers from Petersburg, Moscow, and Nizhny Novgorod. The idea was to merge political theory, art, and activism, and to politicize Russian intellectual culture. Chto delat’ publishes an English-Russian newspaper on issues central to activist culture. Chto delat‘ sees itself as a self-organizing platform for cultural workers who want to politicize the production of knowledge and develop critical autonomy outside of the state-dominated cultural sphere. Vilensky is currently working on the upcoming Chto delat’ retrospective, and on another “songspiel” about recent Russian history. In this interview, the artist – who is presently in residence at the University of California, Santa Barbara – discusses the problems the collective confronts in its efforts to intervene in Russia’s ossifying political culture, and he analyzes the historical implications of this engagement. For more information about the group’s activities, see

Sven Spieker (Los Angeles/Berlin)
Sven Spieker is a founding editor of ARTMargins. A curator and researcher, he specializes in European modernism, with an emphasis on the Eastern European avant-gardes, postwar and contemporary literature and art (especially in Eastern and Central Europe), and critical theory. His work has been published in Russian, German, Swedish, Korean, Polish, Romanian, and Spanish. Spieker's publications include Destruction (ed., MIT Press/Whitechapel 2017); The Big Archive: Art from Bureaucracy (MIT Press, 2008; Korean translation, 2013); The Imprints of Terror: The Rhetoric of Violence and the Violence of Rhetoric in Modern Russian Culture (ed., with Anna Brodsky and Mark Lipovetsky, Vienna, 2006); Bürokratische Leidenschaften. Kultur- und Mediengeschichte im Archiv (ed., Kadmos, 2004). Spieker teaches at the University of California, Santa Barbara (USA) and lives in Los Angeles and Berlin.