In May 2022 I conducted a workshop & lecture titled Rethinking Dolls (and Agniya Barto) as a part of the public program Azbuka Strikes Back at Slavs and Tatars Pickle Bar project space, Berlin.
There was a discussion of purity and cleanliness concept, shaming children for expressing emotions and being dirty, the gender division from early childhood, the problem of school uniforms, the foreignness of the Russian language in the Soviet republics, and the problem of emotional and physical violence against children in Soviet children’s poetry. 



During the workshop we made the dolls speak up as a symbolic act for all generations of women that were silenced.


Photo Credits: rinanakanofoto

In the framework of the workshop I’ve weaved interactive piece White top, black bottom (Белый верх, черный низ) which is reflection on controversial topics in Soviet children’s literature.

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5 May–September 2022: “Azbuka Strikes Back”

Children’s books and curricula have often been a hot-button, polemical issue: an ideal platform to elaborate and instill ideological positions, be they from the left and/or right. Former socialist nations in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia have a particularly rich tradition of children’s literature, as part of an effort to create solidarity amongst different peoples and cultures. However, we know how that story ended. Today, a critical 21st-century look at this legacy reveals several shortcomings concerning race, sexuality, and gender. Azbuka Strikes Back, the spring and summer 2022 public program at Pickle Bar, looks at the tools, visual, rhetorical, and ideological underlying children’s publications with an aim to decolonize, revise, and queer the heritage of avant-garde education with a series of lectures, performances, workshops, and podcasts by international artists, researchers, poets.