Бükü – Bureau for Cultural Translations / Leipzig, Germany

Бükü – Bureau for Cultural Translations / Leipzig, Germany

for curators (from 2015 onwards)

Contemporary artists’ positions
from the post-Soviet area – a focus on curating

Бükü is the short form of Bureau for Cultural Translations, which is an interdisciplinary platform focusing on the contemporary artists’ positions and debate from post-Soviet area with all its influences, differences, mutuality and interdependency. It is a place for production and presentation of contemporary art, as well as contemporary theory and polemics, which are implemented by discursive events, curated exhibitions, artist talks and soon also by a curatorial & artist residency programme.

In early 2015 Bükü will launch an Open Call for international curators to participate in the residency. Bükü offers a place to live and work, as well as a public art space to present the curatorial research in different formats: there could be curator talks, discussions, presentations or an exhibition. The main aim of the residency is to introduce guest curators to the vivid art scene of Leipzig as well as to encourage a talk about the curatorial in its broader definition as a transdisciplinary and transcultural field of constellations. Bükü’s curator-in-residency programme offers an insight in the theoretical discussions around curating and wants to speak publicly with the guest curators about their own curatorial practice.

The photo shows the installation/exhibition ‘Azoikum’ by Ilya Dolgov in September 2014.


Kristina Semenova and Olga Vostretsova are two admirably visionary ladies and smart young curators, Russian origin and based in Leipzig, Germany. Together they founded Bükü as association (eingetragener Verein e.V.) in April 2014. They run a this project space in the district of Lindenau – which is not functioning as a gallery as they stress – with a divers and substantial programme.
Every week they bring new artists, curators and events on the cultural agenda, often in cooperation with the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig (HGB) or LIA artists residency at Baumwollspinnerei, located pretty close.
With their schedule they outline social and participatory aspects of art and cultural practice, and spotlight the changing role of curators that work in the public domain.

So did the curator talk #2 with Anna Bitkina from St. Petersburg on 18th September, titled ‘Social Practices In the Russian Art Context’. Anna Bitkina is an independent curator and a founder of the art organisation Creative Association of Curators TOK in Russia.
Another featured project was ‘Curate your Mother!’ in October this year.
With a workshop, performance and live sewing, there was the approach to
‘The art of survival or strategies of resistance against neoliberal logics of markets, globalization and H&M demonstrated through the seamstress Natalia S. from Woronesch (RU)’.
Oleg Kulik, representative of radical performative arts in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia and known as the ‘dog-man’, was invited for a discussion. They hosted the evening ‘Paradox of Equilibrium’ in November.

Currently, the interdisciplinary project series called ‘Backstage Painting’ with Meisterschüler of class Ottersbach from the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig is happening. For one week, the art space Бükü hosts the six master class artists as they make their creative process visible. The exhibition space is transforming itself daily, translating themes and aspects of the works of the respective artists in diverse forms and formats that presuppose a dedicated audience. Simultaneously the artists will take on the role of mediators and invite visitors to participate in a discursive programme, conceived with various perceptual situations to participate in and discuss.


With these contents Kristina Semenova and Olga Vostretsova alert various frames of reference and the aesthetic, cultural, social, political and economic conditions of display. It is about the history and development of forms of public presentation of art and culture and also about various approaches to research on contemporary topics.
Particular importance is placed on the relationship of the curatorial to both, artistic practice and theory. As nothing shapes, represents or reflects better the imaginary constructions of particular societies than arts.
Both are about to complete the postgraduate studies ‘Cultures of the Curatorial’ at HGB Leipzig. This is a master’s degree, which can be pursued while working.
It is combining application-oriented research practice with academic reflection shaped by professors and lecturers at the Academy of Visual Arts, including Thomas Weski, Beatrice von Bismarck and Benjamin Meyer-Krahmer.
Kristina and Olga first collaborated with the project Space LAB within the context of the MitOst Festival 2013 in Leipzig, hosted at the Spinnerei.

Maybe also in preparation to launch their own residency programme for curators, they participated as a resident at GeoAIR and did a research trip to Tbilisi this summer. With the beginning of 2015, Kristina and Olga will welcome their first resident, Nikolay Alekseev from Russia, who was lately awarded fellow of the Russian Museum for Contemporary Art Garage.

Since its operating kick-off in May 2014, Bükü is vividly present at the regional art scene. It exhibited such artists as Alexander Povzner, Julia Smirnova, Ilya Dolgov, Orsi Horváth, Oliver Kossack a.o. Artists talks were held with well-known artists from Moscow and Sankt-Petersburg, like Oleg Kulik and Gluklya retrospectively – all this in only seven months of its existence.
Congrats for this successful start of this open space for potential negotiations, mutual approaches, emancipated statements and exchange. It is an enriching format – to live and express the hybridity of culture along with the audience.
All the very best for the future!


More info on the Bükü homepage and on Facebook.

Photos: Bükü, A.M.;
Interview with: Olga Vostretsova and Kristina Semenova,
Managing Directors and Programme Curators, Bükü – Office for Cultural Translations e.V.
Leipzig, 13th & 14th September 2014.