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INFLUUT – BLACK CLOUD, Kyiv Biennal – 17th november 2019

Electroacoustic jazz duo INFLUUT (Nat Cilia – saxophone, Daniel Maszkowicz – electronics) will present an original piece inspired by the thematics related to Black Cloud – Kyiv Biennal. Daniel Maszkowicz will also give a seminar and workshop on Data Sonification using SuperCollider with relation to surveillance and Big Data.

With the support of Swiss Art Council ProHelvetia

The Black Cloud – Kyiv Biennial 2019

October 11 – November 23, 2019

Visual Culture Research Center announces a third edition of an experimental biennial forum for art, knowledge and politics – The Black Cloud – Kyiv Biennial 2019 that will take place October 11 – November 23, 2019.

The Black Cloud – Kyiv Biennial 2019 conducted as part of a newly established East Europe Biennial Alliance (Biennale Praha, Biennale Warszawa, Kyiv Biennial, and OFF-Biennale Budapest) brings together artists, academics and activists to develop a consistent understanding of the last three decades in the history of Eastern Europe, largely defined by the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, the subsequent collapse of the Soviet bloc, and the emergence of a unipolar global regime of governance equipped with a new soft power tool of big data. This year’s edition will focus on surveillance systems and privacy in the web, digital warfare, big data and its political and civic implications.

More than thirty years ago, the Chernobyl catastrophe had brought into being the first artificial cloud of a global scale. Its social, political and economic effects were heavily defined not only by the flow of radiation, but also concomitant information stream. The toxic plume moved through the stratosphere breaking political borders, being a subject of fear and speculations, scrutiny and disturbance. An opaque hyperobject, it had preceded and marked a transition to the hybrid, dissipative and multilateral. Unseen and invisible, the spectre of real socialism was falling out over Europe, burying the remnants of the ideology grounded on an industrial endeavor. The modernist dream of a peaceful atom was suspended at Mittelraum, a traditional battlefield for Europe.

The disintegration of the Socialist bloc has led to a global dominance of the ideology of financial capitalism. The fall of the Berlin Wall as a symbol of the Cold War was celebrated as a shift to a dynamic network system of power epitomized in the inception of the world wide web in the same years. Though, a post-communist transition resulted in growing inequalities, expanding state apparatuses, triumphant nationalism and new types of physical and electronic walls that sprung up around the globe. The promise of Velvet Revolutions to overcome the historical division and political isolation of Europe’s East has been turned into the fortification of Europe obsessed with border control that became a main topos of the state of exception today. The collapse of the Second World meant a general loss of the political alternative to capitalism, when revolutionary or reformist emancipatory projects have been put into a black box of ‘the end of history.’

The early years of Internet democratic enthusiasm changed to more pessimistic views on electronic freedoms, safety, personal data usage and the role of governments and corporations. The artificial cloud of data without borders, a heaven for digital capitalism, in addition to corporate interest of its global vendors, charged with global surveillance programs. The impact of Chernobyl was no longer comprehensible without a machine sensibility and the augmented reading of the event’s metadata. In the following decades, sensual and intelligible alienation will proceed as an externalization of intellect, creating an external agency of ‘the human condition,’ largely designed to cope with the vulnerability of the physical and its erroresque nature, pursuing the technocratic desire to unpin the physical body from a growing burden of knowledge, and further, cognition, by prophesizing it with the ever-growing knot of capital/knowledge of immaterial cloud.

Looking at the infrastructural legacy of the Soviet Union we ask whether and if so, the totalitarian empire reinvented itself via the Internet infrastructure; what is the new topology of the empire in the information society of late capitalism? How does the development of the Internet infrastructure of the post-Socialist countries correlate with their old and new geopolitical relations? How does the irreducible materiality define its digital surface? What role do information technologies play in the fear management of today’s societies and how invisible, potential or distanced threats are distributed and delivered to our lives?

Over the last decade, Eastern Europe and the Middle East have become a battleground for proxy wars and an authoritarian avant-garde championing right-wing populism as a general upcoming prospect. In the current historical conditions, there is a growing need to position the region within different geopolitical divisions to overcome ideological amnesia and rediscover its common socialist past. The creation of translocal knowledge through interconnecting (semi-)peripheries of the former West and reopening the experiences of the ‘Middle East Europe’ after the disillusionment of capitalist transformation would contribute to imagining an alternative European project for the future.


The Scientific and Technical Library of the National Technical University of Ukraine “Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute” (37 prospect Peremohy, metro Politekhnichnyi Instytut).

The House of Cinema (6 Saksahanskoho Str., metro Palats Sportu).

Admission to all events is free of charge.

Featured Participants Include: Isabelle Alfonsi (France), Clemens Apprich (Germany), Arab Media Lab (Morocco), Keti Chukhrov (Russia), Genevieve Fraisse (France), Georgii Kasyanov (Ukraine), Oleksandr Kupnyi (Ukraine), Geert Lovink (Denmark), Oliver Marchart (Austria), Svitlana Matviyenko (Canada), Sandro Mezzadra (Italy), Jan-Werner Müller (Germany/USA), Claus Offe (Germany), Niels ten Oever (Denmark), Nelly Pinkrah (Germany), Oleksiy Radynski (Ukraine), Kirill Savchenkov (Russia), Susan Schuppli (Great Britain), Tactical Technology Collective (Germany), Aleksei Taruts (Russia), Philipp Ther (Austria), Emilio Vavarella (Italy), et al.

Organized by the Visual Culture Research Center (Kyiv, Ukraine).

Emblem by Metahaven, 2019.

Institutional Partners: Biennale Praha (Czech Republic), Biennale Warszawa (Poland), European Alternatives (France), Forum Transregionale Studien (Germany), OFF-Biennale Budapest (Hungary), Transeuropa Festival 2019 (Italy), The Scientific and Technical Library of the National Technical University of Ukraine “Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute”, Digital Security Lab

With the Support of: ERSTE Foundation, Foundation for Arts Initiatives, Goethe-Institut Kiew, Prince Claus Fund, Ukrainian Cultural Foundation.

Visual Culture Research Center (VCRC) was founded in 2008 as a platform for collaboration between academic, artistic, and activist communities. VCRC is an independent initiative, which is engaged in publishing and artistic activities, scientific research, organization of public lectures, discussions, and conferences. VCRC has received the European Cultural Foundation’s Princess Margriet Award for Culture in 2015, and the Igor Zabel Award Grant for Culture and Theory 2018. Visual Culture Research Center was an organizer of The School of Kyiv – Kyiv Biennial 2015 and The Kyiv International – Kyiv Biennial 2017.