Between Revolution and War

Exhibitions and public interventions

August 2014 – January 2017

Project Between Revolution and War illuminates not only what is happening in Ukraine, but also look at the mechanisms that form the basis for most of the world’s conflicts, thus increasing awareness of both major political events and the personal life stories hidden behind all the impersonal statistics of war and the conflict’s wake.

Events in the frames of project:

Nomadic Park
Bialystok, Poland
mobile installation
August - November 2014
36 Stories
Bialystok, Poland
workshop, video
August 2014
Between Revolution and War
Skövde, Sweden
exhibition
September 22, 2016 - January 8, 2017

At the heart of community

It is not a revelation that today Ukrainian cultural institutions exist in a state of long-drawn crises so deep that the existence of these institutions, let alone their impact on society, is hardly noticeable. Today, a quarter of a century after the fall of the Soviet Union and at a time when Ukraine is still courageously fighting for its right to form a democratic state and civil society, there is a strong belief among Ukrainians that the complete lack of communication in the cultural sphere and the imperception of the value of the place people live, were the main triggers of the actual war that now impedes the successful transformation of the country. It is thus extremely important for the Ukraine of today, despite the difficulty of the political situation, to reconsider its cultural policy and to revitalize its cultural institutions.

During previous decades, certain countries saw the formation of a “new museology”; museological thought that criticized ossified museum practice, redirected institutional aims from the past to the present, and also pursued a strong social development agenda. Within the framework of At the heart of the community our aim was to attempt the implementation of these ideas in the Ukrainian cultural sector.

We believe that global, positive changes to social life can only be triggered by means of an unmediated contact with its individual members, the local communities they form, and through their active involvement in open dialogue and activities. In this respect, the choice of a local history museum as a platform for our project seemed to be the most natural and grounded option. On the one hand, local cultural institutions, which occupy the “lowest” position in the institution hierarchy, are the most marginalized, underfunded and “fossilized” entities, whereas on the other hand, they are by definition the places of first institutional-immersion for citizens; places of ever open doors, which were pushed into oblivion by unlucky historical circumstances. Thus, the main aim and challenge of our project was to bring such institutions back to the cultural and social maps of cities and towns, restore their own awareness of their mission in society, and provide them with the tools for effective development.

Events in the frame of the project:

Lecture
Leyla Ibragimova
Melitopol museum of local lore
March 19 , 2015
Lecture
Nataliа Dzyubenko
Strategy of Actuality: how museum can become a place essential for the local community?
March 19, 2015
Lecture
Maciej Wołosiuk
Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. Radical museology
March 20, 2015
Lecture
Yuriy Kruchak
Architecture of Opportunities
March 21, 2015
Workshop
Yulia Kоstereva
Local is the New Global
March 22, 2015
Working session
Mykola Skyba
Museum as a storyteller
May 23-27, 2015
Working session
Oleksiy Radynski
What is society?
July 12-16, 2015
Workshop
Jana Salakhova and Nina Khodorivska
Theatre for Dialogue
July 26-30, 2015
Working session
Gabriela Bulisova & Mark Isaac
Festival of memory
August 7-11, 2015
Working session
Data Chigholashvili and Nini Palavandishvili
Food as the instrument of social engagement
August 21-25, 2015
Working session
Yuriy Kruchak and Yulia Kostereva
Museum as a creator of meanings
September 17-21, 2015
Exhibition
At the heart of the community
September 27 - October 29, 2015

Exhibition

Melitopol Museum of Local Lore
September 27 – November 29, 2015

Exhibitions At the heart of community sums up the project of the same name initiated by Open Place (Kyiv) Municipal Museum of Local Lore (Melitopol) and the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw (Warsaw). The main goal of which was an attempt to identify an effective model of socially oriented cultural organization and testing of certain aspects of this model in the Melitopol museum of Local Lore.

From March to September 2015, there were a series of meetings (lectures, workshops, working sessions)  in the museum aimed to establish the direct links between the museum and the local community, with the widest possible audience involvement in the process of studying the links between the development of cultural institutions and the development of society. Visitors became active participants in the process of rethinking the role of the museum in the life of the community, as well as their own role in the formation and development of the institution. As a result of the sessions were collected a variety of materials from diagram of the connections, video and photo documentation that illustrate the creative process during the sessions to the art objects, created both the invited experts and the participants themselves.

Among the most intriguing works on the exhibition, there are the pieces proposed by participants, the photographs representing the alternative to the permanent exhibition of the museum. These materials, along with archival documents from the personal file of the museum, telling about its history, formed the narrative of the exhibition.

Exhibition - "At the heart of the community"

Selected works

Gabriela Bulisova
and Mark Isaac
MEMORIA
photo, 2015

In August 2015, Gabriela Bulisova and Mark Isaac worked in the only penal colony in Ukraine for women ages 14-20, which is located in the southeastern city of Melitopol. The project, titled “Memoria” focused on the important recollections of the women who live in the penal colony. For 13 participating women, were created diptychs that include a portrait of each individual and an image of a place, object, photograph, or article of clothing that is particularly important to their memory. The women were also interviewed about the object they selected, and their explanations were included at the exhibition as text.

Larion Lozovyi
photo, 2015

Publication

Publication - "At the heart of the community"

The texts and interviews collected in this book belong to our expert guests, who gave lectures and lead workshops at the Municipal Museum of Local Lore (Melitopol) from May to September 2015, but also to members of the local community who attended those meetings.

All of the authors included herein reflect on the general condition of cultural institutions in present-day Ukraine, as well as offering insight into the particular condition of the Municipal Museum of Local Lore (Melitopol). All agree on one thing: that reformation of such institutions is a pressing challenge.

Publisher: Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw
Edited by: Yulia Kostereva, Yuriy Kruchak, Katia Szczeka
Published: Warsaw, 2015
Language: english, ukrainian
Details: Softcover, 199 pages
ISBN: 978-8364177330
Category: Book
Design: Emilia Obrzut

Team

IRYNA SKLOKINA
Lives and works in Lviv, Ukraine
Historian, research fellow of the Center of Urban History of East Central Europe. Defended her dissertation about the official Soviet policy of memory of the Nazi occupation of Ukraine using the example of Kharkiv region. Graduated from V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University (major in history of Ukraine). Worked at Kharkiv National University and the Kowalsky Eastern Institute of Ukrainian Studies (Kharkiv). A member of the Kharkiv Historical and Philological Society. At the Center for Urban History Iryna Sklokina researches historical heritage, in particular industrial and Soviet heritage in Kharkiv and Lviv.

 

МYKOLA SKYBA
Lives and works in Kyiv, Ukraine
Director of the “Agency for Cultural Strategies”, participant in the “Culture 2025” platform, specialist in creative economy. Graduated from the Faculty of History of the Kyiv National University. T.Shevchenko (2001) and postgraduate study in the specialty “Ethnology”. Investigates the processes of socio-cultural transformations of Ukrainian society and cultural codes of the economy. As an expert in cultural politics, he tracks the dynamics of values’ changing ​​and their impact on the development of society. He analyzes the development of the museum sphere and the processes of forming a creative economy and the creative industries sector.

 

OLEKSIY RADINSKI
Lives and works in Kyiv, Ukraine
Filmmaker and writer. He is a member of Visual Culture Research Center, an initiative for art, knowledge, and politics founded in Kyiv, 2008. Since 2011, he has been an editor of Ukrainian edition of Political Critique magazine. His work deals with representation and misrepresentation of social movements and lack of thereof.

 

NINA KHODORIVSKA
Lives and works in Kyiv, Ukraine
Cultural researcher and journalist. Graduated from the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Culturology. Got Master degree of Performance Studies from Helsinki University (Finland) and Warwick (UK). Member of the NGO “Theater for Dialogue”.

 

JANA SALAKHOVA
Lives and works in Kyiv, Ukraine
Curator of the network “Diversity Initiative”. Joker in “Theater for Dialogue”, which operates according to the method of the theater of the oppressed. Specialist in combating racism and xenophobia, International Organization for Migration (IOM) Mission in Ukraine.

 

GABRIELA BULISOVA
Lives and works in Washington, D.C
Documentary photographer and multimedia artist. She was a Graduate fellow at the National Graduate Photography Institute at Columbia University in New York, NY. Her work focuses on underreported and overlooked stories affecting marginalized populations around the world and in the United States. She has numerous awards, among others: The National Press Photographers Association’s Short Grant, Winner of the 2013 Sondheim Prize, Open Society Institute’s Moving Walls 18, The Aperture Portfolio Review Top Tier Portfolios of Merit, A CEC ArtsLink Projects grant, The PDN Annual Photography Competition Winner, The CANON “Explorer of Light” award.

 

MARK ISAAC
Lives and works in Washington, D.C
Artist, working with photography, video, and installations. His work focuses on our capacity for positive change in an age saturated by electronic media and consumer culture.  Was awarded an MFA in Photography and Digital Imaging (2008) and an MA in Digital Arts (2007), both from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. He also studied extensively at the Corcoran School of Art and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

 

DATA CHIGHOLASHVILI
Lives and works in Tbilisi, Georgia
He is working between social anthropology and contemporary art, exploring the connections between them through theoretical research and projects. He is mainly interested in the topics concerning visual and urban anthropology, ethnography, socially-engaged art practices, public space, memory, migration, foodways – some of which are usually interconnected in his collaborative work. Since 2012 he is affiliated with artist initiative GeoAIR.

 

NINI PALAVANDISHVILI
Lives and works in Tbilisi, Georgia
After studying Art History in Tbilisi, she graduated from the UdK Berlin in Faculty of Public and Industrial Communication. In 2006 Nini joined artist initiative GeoAIR and since then she is actively engaged in curating and organising international exchange project in Georgia and beyond its borders. Through her projects Nini researches on social and political contexts and its interpretation in the context of cultural production and contemporary art. She is interested in artistic practice that gives innovative forms and finds a language with which it is possible to speak about political and social matters

 

YURIY KRUCHAK
Lives and works in Kyiv, Ukraine
Artist, curator, co-founder of the artistic platform Open Place. Graduated from Kharkov art-industrial institute and the National Academy of Fine Art and Architecture in Kyiv. His works in public space transform the audience into the actors, creating a community whose behaviour and interaction serves to interpret and reveal social structures in an urban environment.

 

YULIA KOSTEREVA
Lives and works in Kyiv, Ukraine
Artist and curator. A Graduate fellow at the National Academy of Fine Art and Architecture, Kyiv, Ukraine (Graphic department). She is a co-founder and a member of the artistic platform Open Place. Her work explores motivation of people in their desire to make changes when apathy and acceptance of the existing situation turn to proactive position.

 

MYKHAILO SAZHNEV
Lives and works in Melitopol, Ukraine
A lecturer at Melitopol’s Bogdan Khmelnitsky State Pedagogical University. Mykhailo works at the natural-geographic faculty in the department of tourism, social and economic geography and regional studies.

 

DENIS MIROSHNIK
Lives and works in Melitopol, Ukraine
A lecturer who has long been interested in philosophy, religion, culture, archaeology, history and Buddhism: the latter has informed his lifestyle over the course of the last 15 years.

 

MACIEJ WOŁOSIUK
Lives and works in Warsaw,  Poland
Graduated from Cultural Studies of Central and Eastern Europe at Warsaw University. His interests lay in the area of mass culture in USSR and its impact on social relations. Maciej is currently working at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Poland.

 

KATIA SZCZEKA
Lives and works in Warsaw,  Poland
A collection specialist, cultural manager and curator currently working at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Poland. She graduated from Warsaw University (MA in British Studies) and Sotheby’s Institute of Art (MA in Fine and Decorative Art).

Partners

Villa Sovietica

Exhibition

Musee d’Ethnographie de Geneve | Conches
October, 2009 – June, 2010

Geneva Museum of Ethnography (MEG) has opened its collections to a team of anthropologist and artists from post-socialist countries like Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia or the former GDR, who gauged into the merits and perils of a cross-disciplinary approach into a specific type of material culture in collaboration with colleagues from formerly so-called non-communist countries (the West).

The working group consisted: Ekatarina Shapiro-Obermair, Franziska Jentsch, Yulia Kostereva, Yuriy Kruchak, Solo-Matine, Marcel Fanchamps, Tobias Glaser, Willem Mes. Curated by Alexandra Schussler

The result of this investigation has become the exhibition, which presents more than 1000 items for everyday use of Soviet provenance, as well as innumerable objects from the museum’s European department. The building of MEG Conches, where the exhibition was displayed, has become an object of auditing, as well. Visitors’ attention was drawn to the magnificent architecture of the villa, and to the spaces that have never been accessible before to the public. The exposition invites the audience to relate to objects using of all of 5 senses, by providing different angles, Villa Sovietica is playing with preconceived ideas.

Publication

The book introduces us to the material culture of everyday life in Soviet countries. After a visual essay – exploring various contexts in which ordinary Soviet object appear – thirteen authors from different disciplines and academic traditions in the post-Soviet and Western worlds compare their points of view on aspects of materiality and spatiality. East-West relations, the history of the Soviet artefacts, photography, memory and collecting, finally emphasising the complementarity between antropology and art.

Publisher: Musee d’Ethnographie de Geneve
Edited by: Alexandra Schussler
Published: Bern, 2009
Language: english, french
Details: Softcover, 238 pages
ISBN: 978-2-88474-176-7 (english)
Category: Book
Design: Severine Mailler

Events in the frames of the project

Intervention
Geneva, Switzerland
Conches – Square of Nations from 1pm to 5pm
November 7, 2009
Intervention
Geneva, Switzerland
Park near the Museum of Ethnography in Conches from 2pm to 5pm
October 3, 2009

Local is the New Global

Local is the New Global raises the question of how to translate the context and personal experience into a universal statement, which would understandable for a wide range of people. The conjecture, Local is the New Global, doesn’t aim to unravel all complexities of contemporary society and its components. Instead, it proposes a methodology when these complexities can become the basis of work, rethinking problems as themes, which are only then transformed into complete works of art or direct actions.

Local is the New Global contributes an exchange of knowledge and obtaining new experience. It facilitates self-determination. It develops a culture of dialogue. A common field of understanding between participants is created, priorities of the group determined, all in due process.

Events in the frames of the project:

Series of Interventions
Vienna, Austria
Island in the Danube
1 April – 31 June 2009
Series of the Workshops and Interventions
Lublin, Poland
suburbs and downtown
September 22 – October 8, 2011
Workshop
Kyiv, Ukraine
Park Pozniaky
July 16 - 23, 2014
Series of the Workshops and Intervention
Kyiv region, Ukraine
boarding school Trypillia village
October 13 – November 3, 2014

Architecture of Opportunities

Architecture of Opportunities is an applied study aimed at developing a strategy of activity of the artistic institution, where society is a co-creator of common values, artistic phenomena and cultural context, and the construction of three-dimensional concept of such an institution.

The series of working sessions Architecture of Opportunities aimed to start the new practice of collaboration between various activists, social, artists, and professional communities while elaborating a concept of a multifunctional cultural center. The results can be summarized as follows: activists consider the Center as an institution where horizontal links between different communities will be set up and developed. They prefer the cluster model, where each invited organization will have opportunity to work at least 2-3 years. According to the vision of the artistic community, connections can be built vertically. They see the necessity of “service structure” which will moderate the work of communities in the center. This structure can work on a permanent basis. Cultural managers in their turn consider the potential center as “service structure”. Kiev residents understand the future center as a meeting place of different communities. All four groups came together in two important issues, namely: the main function of the center should be educational, and the center should be a place to develop a new identity.

Architecture of Opportunities project, which began as a local event, was transformed into a global study of work within the society and with the society in establishing connections and meanings.

Working sessions:

Meeting with activists
Kyiv, Ukraine
Foundation Centre for Contemporary Art from 2pm to 6pm
April 1, 2013
Meeting with the art community
Kyiv, Ukraine
Foundation Centre for Contemporary Art from 2pm to 6pm
April 10, 2013
Meeting with cultural managers
Kyiv, Ukraine
Foundation Centre for Contemporary Art from 2pm tp 6pm
April 15, 2013
Public meeting
Kyiv, Ukraine
Foundation Centre for Contemporary Art from 2pm to 6pm
April 26, 2013

Interviews:

Swedish artist residences: how it works
Alvaro Campo
Stockholm, Sweden
April 13, 2015
The story about us
Daniel Urey
Stockholm, Sweden
April 17, 2015
Dependence on art
Natasha Danberg
Stockholm, Sweden
April 18, 2015
The lake saturated with people
Max Popov
Kyiv, Ukraine
March 1, 2017
The basis of anarchistecture
Dana Kosmina
Kyiv, Ukraine
March 18, 2017

Workshops:

Artist vs Institution: who wins?
Kyiv, Ukraine
Osvtnya stancya 31v1
September, 2014
The Making of Collective Agencies
Warsaw, Poland
CCA Ujazdowski Castle
July 20, 2016

Start Time

The project’s objectives are to expand the field of artistic activity and to unite the different parts of society by means of art. The aim of Start Time project is, together with people resting in the park, develop the park, formulate its mission and the ways of development. The project discusses the questions – “What is the park”, “How it should look like” “What kind it should be”.

Developed as a series of reversible interventions, which combine the methods of sports contests, physical work, and art creation, the Start Time project establishes the links between past and present culture, as well as, ideology.

Events in the frames of project:

Intervention
Kyiv, Ukraine
Park of Culture and rest ``Hydropark`` from 3pm to 6pm
October 26, 2008
Intervention
Vienna, Austria
Prater Park from 10pm to 10:30pm
May 1, 2009
Intervention
Conches, Switzerland
Conches garden from 2pm to 5pm
October 3, 2009

Lion’s Share

The project Lion’s Share shows time as a stable structure that filled with objects of various ideological systems, and proposes to make a mental journey from present to past and back. The real stories of families that that adopted the wild animals become the basis for the revision. In the project, an animal becomes a personage, on behalf of which a story is telling. It gives an opportunity to look at reality from another point of view.

The installation Lion’s Share includes a collection of diapositives and slides produced by the State companies and individuals from the 50s to 2000 as well as actual stories. Installation being based on the intersection of the real facts and fiction provides an opportunity to see in one space the facts that have taken place before, now and after. The installation deforms the connection between the objects, images and texts, and provides a sociological analysis of the structure of everyday life.

Exhibitions:

Villa Sovietica
Conches, Switzerland
Musee d’Ethnographie de Geneve | Conches
October 2, 2009 – June 20, 2010
Dependence Degree
Wroclaw, Poland
Awangarda BWA Gallery
August 19 – October 02, 2016

Performing the East

Dr. Amy Bryzgel interviewed Yulia Kostereva

2014
Kyiv, Ukraine - Aberdeen, Scotland
performingtheeast.com

The political situation in Ukraine has thus far prevented me from getting to Kiev to conduct my research in person. Consequently, I am trying to introduce myself to the scene there by doing my interviews remotely, through Skype. So far, the only artists I have been able to get in touch with are Yulia Kostereva and Yuriy Kruchak, who share an artistic practice; they are also co-founder and founder of Open Place, a platform dedicated to, according to their website, the “development of creative research” and the “establishment of the connections between an art process and different layers of the Ukrainian society.”

I spoke with Yulia about Open Place. I was intrigued by the interactive and collaborative nature of their work, and the manner in which they involve the surrounding community in dealing with local issues. One of the pieces that struck me, looking at their website, was The 7th of November (the date of the 1917 October Revolution), an art intervention that they staged in Geneva in 2009. What intrigued me about it was their use of the plaid plastic bags that are a familiar accessory not only in Eastern Europe, but also the West, used by refugees and migrants. The artists invited 20 people, citizens of Geneva, to move 80 of these bags, filled with newspapers, across the city, and eventually bring them to a public sculpture in front of the Palace of Nations, Broken Chair, which was installed as a monument in support of the international treaty for a ban on cluster bombs. The participants of the action used the bags to “repair” the chair, acting as an artificial support or fourth leg.

The purpose of the action was to bring attention to the status of migrants in Geneva, and in general. The artist recalls that as artists from Eastern Europe in Switzerland, they themselves felt like “barbarians,” which they imagine is not dissimilar to the way in which most immigrants there feel, or are made to feel by the inhabitants. The bags were used because of their iconic association with foreigners. Indeed, in their travels through the city, they made quite a sight, as 80 of these large bags blocked the view of the city on the bus, and disrupted sightseeing, interfering with the pristine view. By bringing these bags out into the public space, they confronted passersby with a reality that they might not like to see or acknowledge. They brought the bags to the chair to repair it, using it as a symbol of a “broken nation” or union. They also wanted to show that “barbarians” could also fix something.

In doing this action, they occupied public space and showed that this is not just a space for tourism, but also a space for dialogue. They also gave the local citizens who participated the experience of what it might be like to exist as a foreigner in that environment. Yulia told me that the people who participated seemed to really make this connection after the performance, and one woman went as far as to say that she “felt like Christ,” after participating in it.

A similar collaborative effort can be seen in Subbotnik, where the participants came together to do gardening work – often a task associated with the Soviet-era subbotnik, or mandatory work party. During the Soviet era, subbotniks would involve picking potatoes at harvest time, or cleaning up a factory or school. In Yulia and Yuriy’s Subbotnik, the participants planted a garden, according to the artists’ instructions. In the end, the result was a small flower garden that formed a portrait of Lenin, the inventor of subbotniks. The artists liked the idea of the work party, stating that “when you earn money [for your work] there is a difference between the people who earn more or less money; if you work for free, you are equal.” The artists chose this activity because of the connection with local traditions, mainly citing the large flower clock in the center of Geneva, which people care for on a regular basis.

Aside from these projects in Switzerland, which were done in the context of a residency that the artists had there, with their Open Place platform, Yulia and Yuriy are both committed to promoting contemporary art in Ukraine. They mentioned that they wanted to create an alternative to the Pinchuk Art Center, which doesn’t always necessarily deal with the reality of contemporary Ukraine. Rather, they wanted to create a more “flexible structure, that can change and be implemented in many places, everywhere.” They also wanted to ensure that contemporary art was connected with the general public, not just the regular art-going crowd, thus they deliberately located their space outside of the city center. Performative and participatory artforms do not have a strong tradition in Ukraine, and when I asked Yulia where their ideas came from, she told me about an artistic exchange that she and Yuriy participated in in Kharkiv in 1998. She spoke about the freedom that they were given to work on their project, and the collaborative spirit of the exchange, which hosted participants from Kharkiv and Nuremberg. After this, they realized not only the importance of being able to have direct contact with their viewers, but also the importance of feedback and dialogue. Ironically, Yulia told me that she and Yuriy used to lament the fact that people in Ukraine weren’t active – meaning prior to the events of 2013-2014. She said that as artists, they didn’t want to simply make “critical art,” which only shows the problem and doesn’t propose anything new. Rather, she spoke about the empowering nature of people coming together to solve a problem. Simply lamenting the problem “makes people feel helpless,” she said, but if they “feel free and educated, then they can solve it…” Later, she stated that “when people aren’t free, they feel poor, not active, this makes them feel worse.” So their artistic practice starts from the idea of empowering people to come together to find a solution.

The artists have worked with blind people and differently abled people, to create a more inclusive environment for them, in a society where they are otherwise marginalized. [It is rather symptomatic of post-Soviet spaces that differently abled people are denied access to public spaces, rather than being integrated into daily life.] For example, they have created a work of art that blind people can interact with. Before they could do this, however, they had to establish trust within he community, so they created new maps of the city to replace the old, Soviet era maps that the rehabilitation centers in Kiev were using, and made maps that corresponded to the new situation in the city. Then, they worked with volunteers to walk the people around the city using these maps, so that they could become familiar with the layout. Initially, they made smaller sculptures that one could hold in one’s hand, and touch. Later, they made a hands-on sculpture to give sighted people the experience of what it is like to be blind. In this piece, they created a grid, and depending on which square of the grid the person stood on, different sounds would emanate – the sound of a barking dog, for example – that would indicate that one needed to move to another square.

The Open Place platform is a great initiative that combines art and activism, and works with the local community, to bring artists and laypeople together to solve problems through interaction, and artistic activity. I look forward to the day when I can visit their space in person.