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

Arsenal and Kuznetsov

In late July I received an email from artist Volodmyr Kuznetsov with the following images:

Kuznetsov's mural pre-destruction

Kuznetsov's mural pre-destruction

The work of Arsenal director Zabolotna

The work of Arsenal director Zabolotna

According to this article, I knew that Mystetskyi Arsenal in Kiev's director Nataliia Zabolotna covered the mural with black paint but I did not understand it's complete destruction until I saw the images he sent over.

The piece, a mural measuring 11 meters by 5 meters "showed a flaming nuclear reactor with priests and judges semi-submerged in a vat of red liquid. A car that appeared to be carrying officials was shown plunging into the vat — likely a reference to the numerous traffic accidents caused by officials in the country. A hodgepodge of other figures were grouped alongside, including what appeared to be the image of Iryna Krashkova, the woman who accused two police officers and a civilian of beating and raping her last month. Her case has prompted a wave of protests. "

Kuznetsov's decision to make socially conscious work like this is an important addition to Ukraine's art world. Like in any community, artists have the role of distilling the world around them to represent it to their audience, and in this case, make people aware of certain broken social and legal systems.

According to this article, Zabolotna said, "'You cannot criticize the homeland, just as you cannot criticize your mother. I feel that anything said against the homeland is immoral,' she added. Zabolotna also claimed that Kuznetsov had diverged in his work from the concept that was previously agreed upon." Through this statement it is clear that fear motivated this act of censorship due to the Ukrainian President Yanukovich's visit to the Arsenal.

The words of Oleksandr Solovyov, the deputy director of the Mystetskyi Arsenal who also stepped down in protest, summarize his feelings well"This is not censorship but self-censorship. In the work of Kuznetsov, I see nothing more terrible than our life."