VICE: First of all, can you talk about some of the performances and interventions you’ve recently done apart from “МИР – МИРУ – FRIEDE”?
Iv Toshain and Anna Ceeh: First it is important to note that our collective operates under multiple brand names (FUCKi ̶s̶m̶TC, FEMINi ̶s̶m̶TC, XXXXi ̶s̶m̶TMC ) that change continually according to the concepts and issues we focus on – feminism, politics, deconstruction of social hierarchies, peace etc.
We both, Anna and Iv, founded the FUCKis̶m̶ TOSHAIN/ CEEH Art-Label in 2012
(*Vienna – Sofia – St. Petersburg), taking a critical stance toward ideologies (that’s why the
“ism” is always striked through), creating a base for institutional critique activities.
From 2016 on, our once female duo officially incorporated a man – Matthias Makowsky into
the Label (XXXXi ̶s̶m̶TMC ), since then we have been working together on the anti-war
performance project “Mир-Mиру-Friede”.
Radical changes of meaning, superimpositions, appropriation, the unorthodox use of symbols
of power, subversion and creative forms of protest are all significant parts of our work and
To mention just a few recent projects: There was an intervention with 4000 glow in the dark
posters featuring slogans of Marina Abramovic, VALIE EXPORT, Slava Mogutin, and
others, in 23 districts of Vienna. These posters now travel around the world. Recently some
were displayed in Turkey, the Philippines, and Hong Kong. Next they will be shown in
Kyrgystan. In 2015 we staged a guerrilla Performance directly at the preview of the 6th
Moscow Biennale. Another illegal performative work was called “we hacked Kunsthalle
Wien” – basically we sprayed our FUCKi ̶s̶m̶TC logo inside the Kunsthalle, directly upon
the exhibited works. This was a public statement against curators and museum directors
copying artist works and concepts.
(So during the last 5 years we have involved our audience in performativ interactions at the
Charim gallery in Vienna, where we worked with UV sprays and wall graffiti with
underlying art -messages, developed for us by a range of international artists; later at art fair
Viennafair (now Vienna Contemporary) the former Austrian President and the First Lady
joined in our installation too … You can check more at fxxxx.me)
VICE: How did the idea for “МИР – МИРУ – FRIEDE” originate? That is, what got you thinking
of exploring this topic of peace through art—specifically, performance art?
Iv Toshain and Matthias Makowsky: We, Matthias an Iv, developed an experimental exhibition concept displaying the
characteristics of an art fair called PARKFAIR (2011-2014). It took the form of a
Gesamtkunstwerk [synthesis art works as a whole].
The last edition was in 2014 staged in the Ehrenhalle of Burgtor at Heldenplatz in Vienna, on
the occasion of the World War I centennial as well as ongoing international crises and
For this show we created a theme-based site specific installation that moved far beyond
conventional exhibition and art fair formats in cooperation with XXXXi ̶s̶m̶TMC.
We have set ourselves the goal of sending out a message of peace to the world, and invited a
number of international artists to create a slogans on the subject. We asked them
hypothetically: “When the going gets rough, and you artists go to the barricades to voice
your protest, what will you take with you? A work of art, a project, a portfolio? No. No more
solo shows, no ego. Create a slogan”.
So there was a series of 28 black posters displayed on the walls of the Ehrenhalle. Only by
using military IR night-vision goggles, which were part of the installation, viewers were able
to see the messages become clearly discernible on the black surfaces. Here we started to
engage with the actual political situation and what an artist can do to make things better.
VICE: How did you decide to make this performance that included performers in military gear with messages from artists like Lawrence Weiner, Olaf Nicolai, Parastou Forouhar and Kendell Geers?
Iv Toshain and Matthias Makowsky: Later we stoped doing PARKFAIR, with the feeling that we need to move on. We didn’t want any exhibition spaces any more, no white cubes, no walls. So in 2015 we both developed a new exhibition format called MOTA – Museum on Tour Austria (a hybrid between museum and artwork) and in joint forces with XXXXi ̶s̶m̶TMC the anti-war performance “МИР –МИРУ – FRIEDE” was born!
Iv Toshain, Matthias Makowsky and Anna Ceeh: From that moment on, the slogans for peace left the rigid form of an exhibition area and took up positions right at the cutting edge – pulsating on the human bodies of the performers, which are dressed like soldiers, standing in line like a guard of honor.
The artist statements are written on their protective vests, over-sprayed with a special black
military-infrared color, and which can only be seen with military Infrared devices, which are
part of the installation.
One woman and nine men took part in the Guerilla Intervention in Venice. They come from
Germany, Austria, Switzerland as well as refugees from Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan, in
order to make this Guerilla intervention happen, we traveled together as a group from Austria
to Italy by train.
VICE: What did some of these messages say?
Anna Ceeh: My favourits are „STEELING FIRE FROM HEAVEN“ by Kendell Geers (South
Africa/ Belgium) and ” HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT” by Parastou Forouhar (Iran).
They both remind me of the topic of „cristal-images“ by Gilles Deleuze. I like this
multistructural construction of the time and space existing in these messages.
Iv Toshain: I love the angry, prompting, incisive “GO BOMB YOURSELF” by Afghan artist
Amanullah Mojadidi, or the sincere, heart breaking “Keine Heimat” (no homeland) written by
hand by the german artist Olaf Nicolai.
My own statement “BANG” the initial ignition, giving order and growth out of chaos and
emptiness, building content, new forms of matter, life.
The other way around, it describes total destruction, distinction, death, again a new
Lawrence Weiner’s statement has a very sober but fine and conciliatory impact on me. “Here
Today Here Tomorrow” gives a feeling of an infinite state, never ending feedback,
indestructible and timeless love of being.
VICE: You recently took “МИР – МИРУ – FRIEDE” to Venice for the 57th Venice Biennale. Where did you perform it, and was it staged as a sort of political counterpoint to this very big arts festival?
Iv Toshain, Matthias Makowsky and Anna Ceeh: We took the best-known art exhibition in the world – La Biennale di Venezia – „VIVA ARTE VIVA“ as an opportunity to show the anti-war performance “МИР -МИРУ -FRIEDE“ – an artistic message of peace to a wider audience.
Since 2012 we have been acting internationally by means of Guerilla performances liberated
from the conventional practices of art and exhibitions.
When avant-garde is integrated into the official program of conventional galleries and
museums, it is transformed into a spectacle. In this sence our performance on 10-12 May
2017 was deliberately unorthodox, but not meant to be a political counterpoint to Venice
The intervention took place for 3 days, both on the grounds of the Biennale, infront of the
Italian Pavillion in Giardini where it was stopped by heavily armed military, as well as at the
opening of the Austrian Pavillion where the police “loved” inspecting our 2€ guns; we
blocked the entrance to Arsenale and performed also in the city itself. Suddenly we noticed
that Ai Wei Wei was also viewing “МИР – МИРУ – FRIEDE”, himself filming our
performance and how the carabinieri are attempting to stop it at Piazza San Marco I front of
VICE: What was the crowd reaction to the performance, and do you plan on staging “МИР –МИРУ – FRIEDE” in other cities or at other arts festivals?
Iv Toshain, Matthias Makowsky and Anna Ceeh: This artwork, being made up of people, is forming a new non-material art space, confronting it’s audience – passers-by, tourists and art-fans, unexpectedly in the middle of the city.
The crowd loved the piece- a lot of people commented that it was one of the best works seen
at the Biennale, most of them didn’t know it was Guerilla and “illegal” so to speak. Orlan
herself watched through the Infrared device and praised the performance.
Our XXXXi ̶s̶m̶TMC peace-forces are conceived to act everywhere and every time without
being announced in advance. We have no real limit here. They were also seen in public spaces
in the city of Vienna in 2016 (Stephansdom, Karlsplatz, Main Railway Station, and
Now we continue working on some crucial projects .. A kind of pivotal moment is coming up.
It will mark a paradigm shift in our art-production.
We ll keep you updated!