2018 ~ Roaming Assembly#22 ~ Eurasian Steps ~ NIKOLAY SMIRNOV
Eurasia, in its most simplistic term, is a landmass that embraces a vast space between a western end of Europe and an eastern end of Asia. Taking this notion of Eurasia beyond the tropes of West and East, however, promises an exploratory, open-ended journey into one of the most complex thinkings which questions existing borders and distinctions in all dimensions such as the geographical, cultural, political, and social ones– and in turn calls for new connections and pathways including the cosmic, geologic and spiritual dimensions.
Eurasian Steps in Athens focuses on (de-)constructing the city as a “Eurasian gateway”, from where the Hellenistic culture was spread from Europe to middle Eurasia, as well as serving as a node point for transcultural dialogues in various periods in history. Binna Choi and You Mi, two initiators of Unmapping Eurasia, along with Russian artist/curator Nikolay Smirnov will map out aesthetic, cultural, political, and economic Eurasian projects in the past and present, and then unpack their ambitions, pitfalls, and legacies – from Russia’s right-wing Eurasianism to the lesser known left-wing Eurasianism, from imperial Chinese tributary system and decentralised trade networks to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The contrapuntal narratives will be provided by Pegy Zali (from Athens-based collective Kernel) in conversation with Athens based curator Xenia Kalpaktsoglou, both founding members of The Laboratory for the Urban Commons which, through its research and artistic projects, probes at the material strata of the current infrastructure and logistical projects. This will resonate with the presentation by New York-based Korean artist Sung Hwan Kim who conjures perspectives on labor, movement and landscape in his current research into the rarely traced history of migration in Asian minor in the United States, that offers itself an allegorical potential for Eurasia, if not challenging its boundary. Ultimately, the Roaming Assembly iteration of Eurasian Steps, with artists, researchers and Dutch Art Institute participants stages an image of a “slower Silk Road” envisioned by the French anarchist geographer Élisée Reclus. They will perform variations, disruptions and contingencies around the narrative of shared histories in Europe and Asia. And with that, an acute sense of ethics or heightened consciousness comes to the fore – resonating the thinking of Reclus: how can the humanity’s collective self-awareness form one body with the planet itself?