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¹7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope


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28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidan’s three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the country’s stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.

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Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard – and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.

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Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.

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Kyiv Culture

Idea, Implementation... Or Both?

Contemporary art is more than art itself. It has become a social phenomenon, a tool for communication with, what many say, messages and concepts that are more important than skill and technique. There is no doubt contemporary art is as divisive as any other art movement through history. What remains to be seen is if it will stand up to the test of time. What’s On meets two people – artist and artistic director – to learn more about Ukraine’s take on contemporary art.

Contemporary art is more than art itself. It has become a social phenomenon, a tool for communication with, what many say, messages and concepts that are more important than skill and technique. There is no doubt contemporary art is as divisive as any other art movement through history. What remains to be seen is if it will stand up to the test of time. What’s On meets two people – artist and artistic director – to learn more about Ukraine’s take on contemporary art.

Rising Talent
Björn Geldhof, Deputy Artistic Director at PinchukArtCentre, says: “Zhanna is no new name to the artistic world – two years ago she won a special PinchukArtCentre prize. This year the jury acknowledged her work as it demonstrates high quality, commitment, honesty, sensitive use of material and political awareness. In addition, it is clear and obvious to everyone.”
In her art, Kadyrova resurrects the somewhat lost traditions of mosaics, which was so popular in the former Soviet UNI0N, yet seems an old-fashioned art form today. As she tells it, her work combines elements of Soviet Monumentalism and present-day capitalism. “Every epoch has its own heroes. The Soviet UNI0N used to extoll factory workers, collective farmers, teachers, and spacemen. Their gigantic mosaic images adorned almost all streets and buildings. The heyday of these guys has been replaced with today’s advertising idols looking at you from every billboard and poster. Though their lifespan is short – ads exist only for a fleeting moment – they have a strong impact on us.”
According to Kadyrova, Soviet Monu­men­talism and ads have a lot in common; both are about propaganda, either ideological, or commercial. Connecting past and present, Ka­dy­ro­va attempts to capture the essence of ever-changing ads in everlasting techniques and materials. For her work she chose a Ver­sace advertisement as her model. The ad is already gone and forgotten. But her monumental mosaic bass-relief lives on...

Diverse Works
Besides Kadyrova, the exhibition showcases other talents – such as the winners of the first Special Prize, awarded to the project Ars Longa, Vita Brevis by Lviv-based five-artist collective Open Group. Geldhof says of the work: “Indeed, it is the work that has surprised me most. The artists go outside institutional walls to create new open spaces for art and artistic discourse, thus questioning the role of galleries as a curated and/or commercial space. This idea is very strong, interesting and radical.”
In practice, the five guys wear cameras on their heads for a whole day and through their “framed viewpoint” try to create an open space gallery – both physical and psychological – when recording live events ongoing outside the art centre. Day after day they provide PinchukArtCentre with online video, images, and photos to fill 59 blank frames hanging on the wall. Visitors to the art centre can watch the project in progress, Geldhof says. “Their work immediately includes life. They are part of everything happening at the moment. Meanwhile, they are broadcasting EuroMaidan protests – yet in a subtle, intelligent way.” Their work coincides with the third staging of the PinchukArtCentre Prize and Geldhof can see Ukrainian art is rapidly evolving.

Capturing Ukrainian Art Trends
Compared to the first and second editions, Geldhof says the 2013 exhibition shows a distinct identity is emerging based on three things. “These are confidence in applying visual language, the individuality of each work, and the political and social awareness of artists.” Moreover, the works, says the Deputy Artistic Director, are indeed ambitious in scale and scope: “Nowadays more and more Ukrainian artists are travelling around the world. That’s why their works gain a certain international understanding. They start from something local and develop it into something with a global impact.” This is exactly how art is conceived today – connecting many things occurring worldwide, and Ukrainian artists are determinedly going in the same direction despite trying circumstances.
In this sense, the Prize is very important, as it provides young artists with continuous support in production, discourse, and exhibition places. Kadyrova agrees, “The Prize will help me unleash some of my ‘crazy’ ideas, which otherwise would never be implemented.” As we see, an idea requires quality implementation, even in contemporary art.

by Anna Azarova

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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didn’t Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Univer­sal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they don’t understand the meaning of these words.


    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street – the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades – children’s favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. What’s On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.

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