Airi Triisberg

Airi Triisberg, "Get Well Soon!" An Exhibition about Illness and Society, Potsdam 2015.

Activist Biographies in Eastern Europe

The research project aims to document, contextualize and analyze social movements in Eastern Europe. It includes interviews with a variety of political organizers who are active in movement politics, and often also work at the intersection of knowledge production, art and culture. The research participants are active on the broad spectrum of social justice initiatives, including queer/feminist organizing, labor struggles, anti-racist politics, ecological movements, etc.

The geographic scope of the research will focus particularly on the Baltic Sea region, but is not limited to that. The research project is conceptualized as a process of activist knowledge production and will be carried out with the biographical method. This includes in-depth interviews in which the project participants are asked to reflect on their political biographies.

The result of the research project will be a book with a collection of personal accounts about practices of political organizing. The interviews will offer insights into the recent history of social movement politics in Eastern Europe, also addressing the intersections between political activism, knowledge production and cultural work. Rather than producing a linear and homogeneous narrative, the book aims to make room for a multiplicity of voices and perspectives. From the juxtaposition of collected interviews, both commonalities and differences will emerge: key events, connections and entanglements between activist initiatives will become visible; reflections, critique and disputes will be articulated, potentially from contradicting perspectives.

The interviews will also address affective dimensions of activist organizing: How does political engagement affect personal biographies? How are political organizers supporting and caring for each other? How are activists dealing with burn-out, depression and other mental health issues?

Text source: Airi Triisberg

Airi TRIISBERG is an independent curator, writer and educator based in Tallinn. She is interested in issues related to gender and sexualities, illness/health and dis/abilities, self-organization and collective care practices, struggles against precarious working conditions in the art field and beyond. Her practice is often located at the intersection of political education, self-organization and knowledge production. One of her ongoing research interests focuses on historical and contemporary moments when experiences of living with illness or disability have been politicized in order to express social critique. In 2015 she curated Get Well Soon!, an exhibition presenting artistic re-articulations of social imaginaries rooted in the radical movements of the 1970s. Another strand in her practice focuses on precarious labor and art workers organizing. In 2010-2012 she was an active member in the art workers movement in Tallinn. In 2015 she co-published the book Art Workers – Material Conditions and Labour Struggles in Contemporary Art Practice together with Minna Henriksson and Erik Krikortz.