You may have heard that new rules were passed for the "decommunization" of Ukraine. In February 175 towns and villages were given new non-Soviet names and 139 monuments from the totalitarian state were dismantled, many Lenin statues included. And of course, it was heavily contested by groups nostalgic for the Soviet past.
Izyolatsia, a contemporary art foundation now based in Kyiv, commissioned Mexico City artist, Cynthia Gutierrez, to stage a "temporary art intervention" called Inhabiting Shadows at the former site of the Lenin monument in Kyiv. Rickety steps were added in place of where Lenin once stood overlooking the center of the city so that people could climb to their own Lenin view point.
Click here to see images of Gutierrez's installation.
First, my hiatus on blog posting is due to having had a child and moved to a new home within the past year.
I had the chance to see Pussy Riot in conversation as moderated by Karen Finley at Hallwalls in Buffalo, NY. The purpose of their ten city tour was to educate us not on the actions of their past but to let us know about all of the important missions and projects that they are doing now. They shared the work of Peter Pavlensky, who set fire to the doors of Russia's Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in an act of performance art. He is now imprisoned. Look him up.
According to this article in Hyperallergic, Yuzhne based artist Alexander Milov encrusted, entombed, covered over (how ever you'd like to look at it) the statue of Lenin that stood there that was slated for destruction. Darth's helmet provides free wifi for that area in town. Two iconic representations of evil teaming up to offer a laugh.
CEC ArtsLink invites artists and arts managers in visual and media arts from 37 eligible countries to apply for structured residencies at US arts organizations.
The five-week residencies will take place in fall 2016. ArtsLink places Fellows at established US non-profit arts organizations and covers associated living, working, travel, and health insurance costs. Applicants do not need to have contacts with organizations in the US to apply for this program, but proficiency in English is required. Since 1993, 547 Fellows have participated in Residencies at 316 arts organizations throughout the US.
Submission deadline for Fall 2016 ArtsLink Residencies is October 15, 2015. Application and Guidelines
Applicants in performing arts and literature may apply in October 2016 for residencies in 2017.
Artists and arts managers from eligible countries who want to carry out self-directed projects in the US and have a letter of invitation from a non-profit organization or individual in the US should apply for ArtsLink Independent Projects (deadline December 3, 2015).
Eligible countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, Moldova, Montenegro, Palestine, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
Please visit our website for more information.
When walking through European cities, it's common to stumble upon a statue or public monument dedicated to a hero of the past. In Kyiv a Portuguese artist, Alexandre Farto, created this mural to commemorate Serhiy Nihoyan, the first protestor killed by shooting during the Euromaidan protests in January 2014. This contemporary form of monument creates new meaning and impact for the faces that look upon us stoically in our world's streets.
Odesa/Batumi Photo Days is meant to connect Odesa, Ukraine and Batumi, Georgia through exhibitions, workshops and creativity. Importantly, the goal of this project is to enlighten "a wide range of audiences that consume huge amount of information every day in conditions of media wars, who have lack of professional training in the field of photography and especially its modern trends in Ukraine... we’ll try to pay attention to the problem of photo perception as visual media in mass media communications connected to people everyday’s life." Read more about the project here.
*The Odesa portion of the project happened in April 2015, but will be in Georgia in September!
CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) has an up to date Ukraine Crisis Timeline that you can find here. It starts from late 2013 and continues through present day. Though the news isn't present in our mainstream media anymore, the struggles continue.
An exhibition up at the Ukrainian National Museum in Kyiv showing work from the "'Spetsfond,' or 'Special Fund,' vaults — a 1939 inventory enumerated 1,747 entries, from paintings to newspaper clippings indicative of subversive activity" during Soviet Rule. Read more in this article, and on the museum's website. To think what these artists would have produced if given the freedom to do what they pleased.
This is a lovely video from the Vilcek Foundation about Natallia Pilipenka, a fashion designer who uses intricate craft techniques and layering to represent her unique background. Very inspirational, worth watching.
I recently found two beautiful photography projects made in Ukraine. Take a look:
First is In Spirit – HIV in Ukraine by Justina Mielnikiewicz. Powerful black and white images.
Second is the series White Sea Black Sea by Jens Olof Lasthein. These almost panoramic color images capture the beauty and strangeness of that part of the world.
A friend recently told me about Ross Wolfe's fascinating site that includes great information about Soviet history and the history of avant-garde architecture. I was especially drawn to the post below, thinking about the relationship between the author (who had to "walk a fine line as they helped children visualize tantalizing opportunities of exploration and invention while placing limits on this potentially uninhibited dreaming"), a child who may have worked through these cardboard projects imagining new possibilities for his or her future, and the ruling party, dictating what might be learned by these young minds.
"A stratum of do-it-yourself books focused exclusively on teaching children about the world outside the imaginative realm by offering age-appropriate accounts of how complex machines like tractors, Morse code transmitters, semaphores, steam locomotives, and radio-receivers work and, for some, how they can be made at home. They discuss important topics for the Five-Year Plans, give advice on how to build some of these at home, and stress the significance of collective labor and socialist rationalization," reads this post entitled A. Laptev, We build from cardboard [Строим из картона] (1932).
Please join me and other wonderful photographers at the opening of Photographic Being II at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery in Long Island City (near PS1) on Sunday, December 14th. Come see some pieces from Worried Standing Still in person!
Often I think about personal histories within large communities of people and how they will be remembered. This project by Ziyah Gafić, where he "photographs everyday objects—watches, shoes, glasses," is powerful. "But these images are deceptively simple; the items in them have been exhumed from the mass graves of the Bosnian War. Gafić, a TED Fellow and Sarajevo native, is photographing every item from these graves in order to create a living archive of the identities of those lost."
I have recently been reminded of the filming of Dau in Kharkiv, a city in Eastern Ukraine, back in 2011. "Five years ago, a relatively unknown (and unhinged) director began one of the wildest experiments in film history. Armed with total creative control, he invaded a Ukrainian city, marshaled a cast of thousands and thousands, and constructed a totalitarian society in which the cameras are always rolling and the actors never go home," reads the lede from this GQ article.
Open for a few more weeks at the Pinchuk Centre in Kyiv is Fear and Hope, group exhibition including artists Nikita Kadan, Zhanna Kadyrova, and Artem Volokitin. According to this article, the exhibition is "inspired by the dramatic events that have changed Ukraine forever, the show invites guests to reflect on the Maidan protests that resulted in tragedy, violence and political change in Ukraine—and to think about the future."
You can read more about the entire exhibition on the art center's website which summarizes it nicely. It brings up many questions that have passed through my mind: How do artists deal with and react to national and personal tragedy happening around them? Do these works create enough of a distance for the Ukrainian audience to reflect? Is it too soon? Is it therapeutic? How would this work resonate outside of Kyiv, away from the area where the tragedy occurred?
I especially respond to Kadryrova's pieces using cut out imagery from newspapers:
With all of the negative and scary news coming from Luhansk, it is interesting to see these pretty hilarious and well-made videos from two Luhansk electricians. (You can donate money to them if you want via their channel.)
"Pavlo is employed by the local internet provider. Oleksandr repairs household appliances. This is why there is sufficient technical material for shooting... Oleksandr and Pavlo shoot the videos after work — each session can take several hours. The most complex part of the project, however, is the editing. 'Sometimes viewers write us saying that this is impossible, you must have edited this in. But we never falsify our experiments,' Pavlo says," according to this article from Euromaidan Press.
I highly recommend watching all of the videos on kreosan's YouTube channel, but here are a few of my favorites.
Microwave energy magnetron:
This one (about the effects of a microwave on cds and soap) published on September 7th shows the surrounding areas of Luhansk and ends with the guys underground with definite unrest above them:
"How to make a high voltage generator 15 minutes" minutes shows us the interior of a Luhansk home as well:
Though the crowds on Maidan in Kyiv have dissipated there are still so many actions and events during that time that are important to remember. Perhaps they can serve as launching points for future demonstrations or as inspiration for complacent communities.
One of these actions was The Open University of Maidan, still with a very strong and active Facebook page. "Started by the faculty and staff at the Kyiv School of Economics (which was co-founded by a consortium led by Eurasia Foundation), Open Maidan University is offering free, graduate-level lectures to the Ukrainian public on the square.... In the month since Open Maidan University (OMU) began, thinkers, business leaders, and academics have delivered a hundred lectures on everything ranging from how to reform the constitution to how legislation works, how economies function, and the power of free speech in society," states this article on Eurasia.org.
It's incredibly inspiring to me to know that Ukraine's smart and motivated community turned to knowledge and learning to empower themselves.