Lecture (6/13) - Russia is always directly associated with Putin. Putin is the synonym for corruption, usurpation of power and infringements of human rights. Russia is more than Putin. 145 million inhabitants are living in this territorial biggest country of the world, working, studying and traveling abroad. They are facing the same problems as people in the West, such as the struggle against climate change and pollution, being addicted to social media and working on healthy ageing. Since the annexation of Crimea and the downing of the MH17 in 2014, nothing positive can be said anymore in the Dutch media about Russia, because if you do you may have connections with the Russian regime. The adverse side of this typical Dutch media behaviour is factually a limitation of the freedom of speech and the principle of a fair hearing, because dissenting opinions are not welcome. If the media quotes Putin, the context and the necessary circumstances plus legal background of the case are often withheld.
Heleen over de Linden (Delft, 1965) is attorney at law in Amsterdam and 4th year PhD student at the University of Groningen. Heleen studied Russian language, and literature at the University of Amsterdam (1985 –1991) and Tax Law (2000–2004), also at the University of Amsterdam. In 1988 she studied one year Russian language in Moscow, at that time still SovietUnion. In 1998 Heleen lived and worked in the Russian countryside. Her PhD research is about the EU sanctions against the former president of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovych and against Russia, Eastern Ukraine and Crimea.
Photo by Jean-Pierre Jans
Poster design by Dayna Casey
Heleen over de Linden
Installation by Natalia Nikoniuk
Russia, Unknown Territory by Heleen over de Linden
-RUSSIA IS MORE THAN PUTIN-
How do you even know what you know where you know it from who told you so?
Exchange of information is such an inherent task of the daily life; it’s incorporated in all the surrounding structures and the way we gain knowledge and communicate it. It is also something that, at the beginning stages of our existence, differentiated us from the other species (in the book Sapiens Y. N. Harari mentions that something that distinguished the homo sapiens form other sapiens species is the ability and will to gossip). How often however is the exchanged information validated? Our reality allows us the ‘look-up’ anything on google within seconds but one forgets that search engines are also filtered mechanisms. How can an individual, living and functioning in today’s reality obtain true/objective/real information when the amount of sources available is beyond comprehension? Was there ever such a possibility? Is there such thing as ‘objective truth’?
Russia is only one example of a male-dominated-country-that-was-narrowed-down-to-its-politics-and-national-idenity-as-seen-from-the-outside. When reading about Russia, most of the information is negative, mentions words such aggression, surveillance, analytics, Putin and some more Putin (an overview of the articles displayed in the central hall proves so). But the same phenomena can be observed also in the case of America (dominated by Trump) and the UK (Brexit). Those focus-narrowing tendencies can be dangerous because they make ‘the majority’ lose sense of diversity of problems, people, viewpoints or struggles. Now, more than ever is the time to acknowledge your filters and structures that shape the opinions you verse. Is it even doable to be the head of a country that covers as much as 17 100 000 km²? Trump is also having trouble and it’s only: 9 834 000 km²