ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, 09|17|2011 – 02|05|2012
Chto delat?
Was founded 2003 in Saint Petersburg (Russia). The platform unites artists, activists, philosophers, critics, and writers coming from different regions of Russia.

The Tower: A Songspiel, 2010

Chto delat? [English: What is to be done?] sees itself as a platform that aims at the synthesis of political theory, art, and activism. The group’s name refers to the novel of the same title by Nikolai Chernyshevsky (1863), which became a source of inspiration for revolutionary groups and leftist intelligentsia in Russia. Like Chernyshevsky, Chto delat? rejects “art for art’s sake” and the commodification of art, and sees the goal of art in the transformation of reality itself.

The Tower: A Songspiel is the final part of a trilogy of socially engaged musicals. It is a reflection on a real conflict over the construction of the Okhta Center in Saint Petersburg, a 403 meters high skyscraper, where Gazprom planned to house its headquarters. The new structure would have changed the appearance of the city forever, introducing a new dominant point in the skyline – a symbol of a new modernized Russia.

The film is staged as a confrontation of different social and age groups with the “power lobby” over the question of constructing a corporate tower. The power of the lobby group as well as the autonomy of the community turn out to be fictitious, since in the end the lobby is dismissed and the chorus strangled by the tentacles of the authorities.

The action develops through direct appeals by the representatives of power to the community-chorus and the viewer. The enactment follows the principles of Brechtian epic theater and aims at provoking rational self-reflection and developing a critical perspective in the viewer so that he comes to recognize social injustice and manipulation. (DM)


The Tower: A Songspiel, 2010