Usurping Lenin's vantage point.

The statue of Lenin in Kyiv in 2011. Photo by Andrea Wenglowskyj

The statue of Lenin in Kyiv in 2011. Photo by Andrea Wenglowskyj

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. 

Odesa/Batumi Photo Days

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!



The Special Fund

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. 

Installation View, courtesy of the  NAMU Website

Installation View, courtesy of the NAMU Website

Fear and hope in Ukraine at Pinchuk Centre

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:

Zhanna Kadyrova - Crowd, 2012 – 2013, installation: glass, collages of newspapers, co-produced by PinchukArtCentre

Zhanna Kadyrova - Crowd, 2012 – 2013, installation: glass, collages of newspapers, co-produced by PinchukArtCentre

ReImagine

In January 2012 I curated visual art into the Yara Arts Festival at the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York. Artists were: Roberto Ekholm, Petro Hrytsyk, June Kim, Sky Kim, Emeralda Kosmatopoulos, Karissa Lang, Soo Im Lee, Macacas Productions, David Maione, Olga Maryschuk, Serge Matsko, Margaret Morton, Christina Shmigel, Kateryna Svirgunenko, Hiba Schahbaz, & Marybeth Ward.