Elektra KB, born in Odessa, Ukraine, is a Colombian artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York and Berlin. KB’s practice is interdisciplinary encompassing: Video, photography, collage, sound, performance and textile works. Her body of work is of a performative nature in the thread of the post-colonial and decolonial discourse and uses the platform of personal mythology. She has built her own utopian-dystopian world called (T.R.O.G.) The Theocratic Republic of Gaia. Her alternative world is a safe space of resistance where you can run and express freely. She uses sci-fi in the term of political commentary in her works. Recently Elektra KB was in Turkey due to her solo show at Gaia Gallery in Istanbul. After having seen the show, we had a chat on political aspects, freedom, nations and her alternative world.
“We dont work for kings and queens anymore thanks to Duchamp, there is no need for any pretty objects anymore since conceptual art. Nowadays artists are pushed to think about critical theory.” says the artist.
Nil (Nil Nuhoğlu – Founder of Gaia Gallery Istanbul) reached to me when she was opening the gallery. She wanted me to do a solo show, but I told her I needed at least 1 year. So all these works are roughly the product of a 1 year – 2 year work. But before this solo we showed we showed the works at Contemporary Istanbul with Nil, which was really great cause a contemporary art museum in China called YinChuan accuired 10 of my pieces that they saw at the fair.
What do you think of Istanbul generally and of Turkey in a political context?
I follow Turkish international politics and I think there are many similarities with Colombia, not only historical but also in the current politics.
You were born in Odessa but you grew up in Colombia?
Yes, I have double citizenship Russian and Colombian because my mother is Russian and my father is Colombian. But I live in New York.
Your exhibition has strong statements on freedom and governments. Would you be able to have such an exhibition in Colombia. Or does the pressure still exist there today like it does in Turkey?
I couldnt have this exhibition in Colombia. That’s why I watch my answers 🙂 Colombia has had the longest civil war and armed conflict. The civil war has lasted more than 50 years. And today still there is strong censorship due to the political juncture. You are not entitled to all your freedoms. So I wouldnt have been able to produce and show these works if I were still living in Colombia.
Your art underlines nationalistic identity and its consequences. My point of view, national identity is something given to us when we are born. But we can be judged even killed for this identity as it is coded into us and made to be accepted by us. Just like nations, flags and boarders. Do you believe in all this?
I dont believe in nations or borders. I believe we should unite with what we have in common and what makes us communities. I dont think we should unite as people due to our arbitrary events assigned to us such as birth. Which we dont have a say or a choice and so it can be privilege or not. A person born in the 1st world country and a person born in a 3rd world country are born in inequality in socio – economical status and live in very different circumstances. Italian theoritician Errico Malatesta said in his writings, “We should form autonomous communities not with arbitraries but with full cooperation of solidarity, communalities and desire.” Meaning to focus on everything that unites us. It’s completely ridiculous to have anything against a fellow human for something that was not his/her choice.
Words like democracy and freedom cannot be exercised internationally. So if this is the case, how can these words be internationally accepted if they are not existing?
The concept of democracy as it is practiced right now is not something I support. I believe in what Alexis de Tocqueville said in his book “Democracy in America”. He said that democracy is the tyranny of the majority. There is quote by him, “Humans in democracy are independent of each other isolated and weak, with a taste for immediate pleasure and Indolent ambition.” I dont like rulers to rule over our lives. I want freedom and autonomy. The problem happening is that when there is tyranny there is a smaller population that gets repressed. So the democratic process as we know it now has never been successful. We have very horrible examples of democracy such as World War II as Hitler came to power democratically. We should strive for the biggest freedom and autonomy because power creates corruption just like Louise Michel said something like, all power forms tyranny.
Do you think there are countries who tried to become democratic at least?
Yes, there has been. I know of course Rojava is in the process of developing an autonomous and self ruling democracy. Thats the best example I can give so far. But capitalism is the biggest problem in all the world. Because there is a philosophy of stepping on another human to climb up in society and this is cruel and brutal.
You created a utopia/dystopia with only women called T.R.O.G. (Theotratic Republic of Gaia) So can we say you completely gave up on the world we have today?
Its an alternative world I discovered. Its populated by women only; transgender women and cisgender women. I believe everything that we think of exists so this is an alternative world that really exists in another dimension. I believe now in our world its a time for resistance rather than revolution. So yes I have hope in resistance for this world today.
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