середа, 8 лютого 2012 р.

Feminism 2.0

Feminism 2.0

I had wanted this piece to coincide with March 8, but I don’t think it’s lost its relevance. Recently, rankings and historical exhibitions that demonstrate the classical “glass ceiling” - the higher the level of symbolic hierarchy, the fewer women - have become popular in Ukrainian contemporary art (which is slowly becoming simply “normal” art). Hidden gender discrimination has yet to become a topic of discussion in artistic discourse and so I would like to get this issue out in the open.

If you look at women’s participation in major events and art groups, sex discrimination isn’t that obvious: R.E.P has 4 women and 2 men, SOSka has 1 woman and 2 men. Artists shortlisted for the PinchukArtCentre Prize (2009) included 6 women, 10 men and 4 groups. The Malevich Prize was awarded to a woman in 2008. Women are given support from institutions and opportunities to present their projects on equal terms with men. But if you analyze status and financial aspects of art, the proportion of women decreases: among the 10 participants at the Kyiv.Fine Art Gallery’s opening exhibit “TOP-10” (2007) only 1 was a woman. The list of 10 most expensive Ukrainian artists according to “Focus” magazine (2009) includes 1 woman (Evgenia Gapchinska’s 3rd place deserves special attention), and there was also only one (Zhanna Kadirova in the category “Youth, forward!”) in the “Ukrayinska Pravda” (2009) list of 10 most successful artists.

I am a monument to myself...

I am a monument to myself...

© PinchukArtCentre
kadan pinchuk
Viktor Pinchuk and Nikita The PinchukArtCentre Prize - its jury, finalists and winners - is a never-ending and rich topic for discussions and critique. This year’s list of finalists and winners drew strong reactions and were, literally, a surprise for much of the art world. KORYDOR asked some of the members of this community to share their opinions.

Tamara Zlobina, editor of the contemporary art and feminism section of the journal of social criticism “Commons”

I am disgusted by PAC. All the institution’s activities are aimed at creating symbolic capital for a Ukrainian oligarch, “cleaning up” his image as a post-Soviet mobster in the eyes of his Western colleagues in the billionaires club. PAC’s impact on the development of contemporary art in Ukraine is a side effect, whose positiveness is questionable, and it’s time to say this out loud. So far we only hear marginal (and indicatively, female) voices in social networks (also indicative) (I’m talking about Masha Pavlenko’s protest and Alevtina Kakhidze’s article).

Enough of this pathos of asceticism, heroic defense of the contemporary and opposition to national socialist realism. Because while we’re carrying on and rejoicing, saying that finally our artists are being sold at foreign auctions, tolerating unashamed curatorial crap, because “you have to understand the situation,” we forget to question the very way art is created, its positioning in society, its sources of funding. I got a bit depressed while writing this and thinking about where the money came from. Pinchuk, Voronov, Erste Bank, after all, right now I’m writing for KORYDOR, whose activities were supported by a grant from Akhmetov’s Foundation and is now funded by donations from a charitable auction – that is, from the pockets of those same capitalists.

I understand the logic of Ukrainian artists to take everyone’s money and use every opportunity to talk with the public, hoping that the projects will speak for themselves. I’m just afraid that the belief in the potential of critical art to overcome the context of its presentation is illusory. All these anti-capitalist projects in an oligarch’s competition, Degot’s speech at the awards ceremony – it’s neutralized criticism that PAC successful transforms into a joke for its large audience. And the highly artistic quality of the projects only strengthens the walls of the voluntary artistic ghetto.

From a purely human perspective, I also understand that artists need money to live, why they participate in auctions, sales, etc. But high prices and awards remain a problem for me – why should a lucky worker of the sphere of art earn more than a worker of the sphere of trade? The privilege of the position of their social class, the ideological conditionality of this privilege – that’s another discussion topic that is missing in the Ukrainian artistic context.

A proper response by leftist artists to the activities of PAC should be solidary and publicly articulated disregard. Somehow Artur Belozerov manages to keep his marginal LabCombinat afloat and Alina Kopytsia made a remarkable series of actions called Troiandoshyttia (Rose Sewing) without any material support and institutional connections. Where are the rest of our independent spaces? There are enough flats, building entrances, squares.

“Take the money and run” isn’t always a good strategy. Occupy. Occupy РАС, Art Arsenal, the Union of Artists, the Ministry of Culture. Because if we don’t start talking about socialistic ways to fund art, it will never happen.

субота, 24 грудня 2011 р.


I should proceed with this blog, I suppose...

субота, 30 липня 2011 р.

Not for profit or Art for art's sake

my article for Ukrainsky tyzhden

Ukraine hosts its first fund-raising auction to promote contemporary art

The tradition of selling artworks to finance charitable causes, such as helping children or fighting AIDS, has a fairly long history. The fund-raising event called ‘Prosto. Mystetstvo’ (Simple. Art) is unique in that its proceeds will be used to support art itself. Therefore, participating artists and buyers will invest directly in the space of freedom and experimentation which is critical for Ukrainian art now that it has found itself between the Scylla and Charybdis of commercialization and government control.


пʼятниця, 12 лютого 2010 р.

Naomi Uman. Ukrainian Time Machine


Former HARP artist Naomi Uman returns to Hallwalls from Eastern Europe. Hoping to experience what it is like to be an immigrant, the filmmaker moved to the Ukraine shortly after her 2005 residency—a reverse journey taken by her great-grandparents in 1906. She will show four 16mm films from the Ukrainian Time Machine series that combine personal, experimental and non-fiction approaches to capturing life in the town of Uman, where people live as it were 100 years ago.

11 minutes, color, silent, sixteen millimeter film, 2008
This ten minute, silent, color film which depicts the meaning of the months of the year in the Ukrainian language. Each month is presented and followed with a title card which gives the name of the month in Ukrainian Cyrillic, the meaning of that name in italics and the name of the month in English. This film speaks to the concept of language acquisition as you are presented the word for the month, but you are not given a transliteration. If you are unable to read the letters, you can not know how the word will sound. This film, in its silence, represents the door that can be opened when a language is learned, but that remains closed until that time.

Unnamed Film
55 minutes, color, 16 millimeter film, 2008
This project is the result of the filmmaker's attempt to investigate issues of immigration by becoming an immigrant herself. Naomi Uman returned to the land her great grandparents left in 1906. She moved to Ukraine, without speaking the language or knowing anyone. She moved near the city of Uman, to a small rural village where people live as they did 100 years ago.

On This Day
5 minutes, color, sound, 16 millimeter film, 2008
This film tells the true story of one day in the life of the filmmaker.

Naomi Uman is a visual artist. She works in a variety of media and formats. Her work addresses themes of work, geography, immigration, language and love. She has recently completed a series of films, all shot in a rural Ukrainian village, near the city of Uman. She has worked in the United States, Mexico and is now living in Ukraine where, accompanied by her small dog, continues making films, planting vegetables and flowers and making paintings of animals.

субота, 2 січня 2010 р.

contemporary art in museum project

Contemporary Histories: The 2009 International Competition for Curatorship in Ukraine
The Kharkiv-based artists’ collective SOSka proposed an exhibition titled “A New History” for the Kharkiv Art Museum. It included works by artists from Ukraine, Russia, Slovakia, Romania and Sweden; some pieces had been shown previously in international exhibitions such as Manifesta 7 and Art Moscow. Adopting a structure similar to curator Ekaterina Degot’s exhibition “Thinking Realism” in the State Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow (2007), the curators paired contemporary artworks (mostly video) with works from the permanent collection in order to raise questions and introduce the possibility for new readings. In Kharkiv, the contemporary art objects were juxtaposed with historical paintings and sculptures, creating a visual and aural dissonance that was perceived by museum administrators as a conflict, rather than as a dialogue as the curators had intended.

Figure 2, David Ter-Oganyan, ‘Girl in Underwear’, 2009, installation (women’s shoes, stockings, dress, jacket). Kharkiv Art Museum. Image courtesy of EIDOS Arts Development Foundation.“A New History” was scheduled for five days, but it was abruptly closed by order of the museum director, Valentina Myzgina, the day after the opening. In an official letter of explanation sent to the EIDOS foundation president two weeks later, Myzgina cited several reasons for shutting down the exhibition. These included concerns that video artworks were installed so close to museum paintings that they interfered with viewing the paintings. Some video works broadcast sound into the gallery rather than through headphones, and they contained offensive language. David Ter-Oganyan’s installation “Girl in Underwear,” which was not discussed and approved during initial negotiations between the curators and museum staff, consisted of articles of clothing scattered in the middle of a corridor. Judging this to be a disruption of museum circulation and violation of fire safety norms, the director personally dismantled the piece at the exhibition opening.

not very interesting, but informative

A Short Guide to Contemporary Art in Ukraine ("Short Guide Series") Print E-mail
Larissa Babij (Kyiv)
Thursday, 23 July 2009 17:19
ARTMargins begins a series of concise introductions to the developing art scenes of East-Central Europe.

'Pohlyady (Views)'. Image courtesy of the author.Last May an exhibition titled Pohlyady (Views) that highlighted the confluence of art and politics was organized by HudRada (Arts Council) at the Center for Contemporary Art in Kyiv. HudRada is a group of Ukrainian artists, architects, translators and political activists; many members of the Ukrainian contemporary art community participate in its internet-based discourse. HudRada has wide-ranging aims, which include self-education through communication as well as creating exhibitions and other consciousness-raising events. Without the hierarchical management of a single curator, the members of HudRada collaborated on the development of Pohlyady mostly through email correspondence. Poster-size text excerpts from their discussions hung on the gallery walls amongst the artworks. Lectures, roundtables and guided tours enhanced the visitors’ experience, adding an interpretive dimension and creating a setting for those interested in Ukrainian contemporary art to meet and exchange ideas. By encouraging critical discourse, the group is working to slowly transform the Ukrainian art scene.

четвер, 14 травня 2009 р.

Quiet artist

For "Ukrainian Magazine" (Український журнал.) - 2009. - № 4. - P. 52-53.

The article is about Alevtina Kakhidze, Ukrainian artist who got Malevich Art Prize last year. I analize the strategy of very prize, why it was given to Alevtina and conceptualize her main projects.

More in Ukrainian + discussion: http://zumka.livejournal.com/275423.html

More about Alevtina in English:

Translations from her KRAM (critique of actual art) on-line project: http://www.indexfoundation.se/upload/pdf_uselessreading.pdf

Place and form

Tamara Zlobina for PROstory.net.ua

I wrote about Lada Nakonechna "Place" action in Kyiv CCA at March 3.
As for me, artist didn't fulfil well her interesting idea about value of work/artistic work and interconnections between work of art and it's context.

more in Ukrainian: http://prostory.net.ua/ua/art/7-art/197-2009-04-15-20-08-40

понеділок, 6 квітня 2009 р.

Females and Ovipositions


Grycja Erde

In this series of oil paintings I examine stereotypes of femininity in contemporary Ukraine. Well known images of Eve, The Virgin Mary, Helen of Troy, and of Kateryna, the heroine of the emblematic Taras Shevchenko’s poem, along with the glamorous “cover stars” serve as role models for the socialization of Ukrainian girls. Women should be nice, spiritual and beautiful. These repressive stereotypes don’t reflect the diversity of choices for women in contemporary society. Real women can be ugly, fat, bald and nevertheless – interesting and charming individuals. As a project, curated by Tamara Zlobina in 2007, “Females and Ovipositions” was exhibited in a few Ukrainian cities (Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Ivano-Frankivsk) and elicited different responses and opinions. The most remarkable of which occurred in the provincial town of Drogobych (Western Ukraine). My exhibition was prohibited by local authorities because of an outrage against public morality and Christianity. Drogobych moralists proved that women in Ukraine can be naked (and almost are on TV and in advertising) – but only if their nudity is aesthetically pleasing.

пʼятниця, 20 березня 2009 р.


For "Ukrainian Magazine" (Український журнал.) - 2009. - № 3. - P. 52-53.

The article is about two project's - REP group's "Patriotism. Art as present" and SOSka's "Dreamers"

Both groups of young artists are quite famous and critically minded. They made really good projects for PinchukArtCenter.
The reaction of public was symptomatic, as for me - very naive. Everyone liked the form of exhibitions. But critical messages about the role and functioning of art in post soviet context (REP) and modern hero – disoriented teenager (SOSka) weren't understood clearly even by critics.

p.s. the message of pictogram picture above (from REP's Patriotism) is: State (flag) finance (purse) and take care (hand+comb) also supervise (hand+camera) art (brushes).

четвер, 12 лютого 2009 р.

Shut up woman! Your day is March 8!

Very good illustration to the popular joke about March 8 from Elena Mirosedina - the artist of Feminism is... project.

понеділок, 9 лютого 2009 р.

Feminist actions on the eve of March 8, Ukraine

March 8 is extremely popular holiday in Ukraine but not as International Woman's Day in it's emancipative and political meaning, but as depoliticized or over-politicized by post-soviet patriarchy Day of Tenderness. The best description to it's real meaning in Ukraine (and all post-soviet countries as well) is popular joke "Silence woman! Your day is March 8!".

1. Preventive action.
To avoid congratulations like "Our dear women! You are so sweet and tender! You are the decoration of our life! In this day - March 8, the day of beauty, spring and tenderness, we wish you to be loved mothers, sisters and wifes!" and so on, Ukrainian feminist activists proposed "forced enlightment" of officials who often reproduce these and other essentialist stereotypes about the role of woman in society. Activists propose to send letter with information about real meaning of the holiday to all possible greetings-maker.
More information in Ukrainian: http://community.livejournal.com/feminism_ua/434002.html.

2. The best feminist March 8 poster contest (in Russian): http://community.livejournal.com/feminism_ua/432350.html

субота, 7 лютого 2009 р.

I'm trying to develop Feminism is... project

Feminism is... project was created by activist Tamara Zlobina and artist Elena Mirosedina in Ukraine. It is based on popular series of comics from 90s - Love is..., and consists of 20 "lipstick feminism" pictures about different topics (fun as well as serious). We have just Ukrainian-language blog feminism-is.livejournal.com/ now. So I'm going to do special web page (Ua-En) and dozens of shops on cafepress.com to further dissemination of pics and ideas.

The first one is done - http://www.cafepress.com/feminismis1. It is dedicated to right of choice: "Feminism is... deciding when to give birth".

Would you buy something like this? And what do you think about?

середа, 4 лютого 2009 р.

Light from inside

For "Ukrainian Magazine" (Український журнал.) - 2009. - № 2. - P. 50.

The article about "And soul and mind and body" project in the Center for Contemporary Art, Kyiv, December 2008.

It was the last project of the Center - CCA in Kyiv was closed.

Curator Jerzhy Onuch selected two very enigmatic artists - Miroslaw Maszlanko (Poland) and Olena Turianska (Ukraine) who work with old and meditative materials (paper and cane) creating compositions of paper cutting multiplied with light and shadows (Turianska) or something like braided walls (Maszlanko). Their works look extremely aesthetical and beautiful but it isn't utilitarian type of beauty. It is rather universal replica about beauty as such. And, of course, it isn't just about beauty...

More in Ukrainian, and photos: http://zumka.livejournal.com/266734.html

вівторок, 3 лютого 2009 р.

I published the article in "Obrazotvorche mystectvo" (Fine Art) 4, 2008

Title: "Graphic Art by Touch"

This is really old-fashioned magazine of National Artists Union. "Old-fashioned" doesn't mean realistic or soc-realism - everything very modern there. But still, my article looks quite strange. The article is about "Book lunch" project realized in February 2008 in the Center for Contemporary Art, Kyiv, by Alevtyna Kakhidze and Kateryna Svirgunenko (organizers, curators). They invited 40 local artists to present "artist's books". So I describe and analyze a little bit this event.

Few photos and the article are accsesible on my Ukrainian-language blog: http://zumka.livejournal.com/266225.html

неділя, 1 лютого 2009 р.

Market against art. Who will win?

December 29, 2008 GKU Progect group (young Ukrainian artists, more info at http://notforsale.com.ua/page/about/ , in Ukrainian) presented project "Not for Sale" in "Bilshovyk" shopping-moll in Kyiv, one of the biggest shoping-molls in Ukraine. Their intention was to critique consumption sosiety in the temple of consupmtion.

But at December 30, managers of shopping-moll refused to publish names and titles on art-works and decided to use it like ordinary New Year's decoration. They also didn't pay fees to authors and curators, becouse they "don't like art-works and want artists to improve it".

Artists still can't take their works back.

Market showed big teeth! The irony of situation is that "Bilshovyk" (title of shoping-moll) means Bolshevik, communist. The moll was organized in buildings of previous big soviet plant "Bilshovyk" and uses communist symbols enourmosly (like red stars and "shopping Lenin").

пʼятниця, 5 грудня 2008 р.

Ukrainian on-line artmagazine KRAM, some translations

Index has initiated an collaboration with web based artmagazine KRAM published in Kyiv, Ukraine (http://kram.in.ua/). The page will be updated regularly with new material:



The KrAM Project - for the international audience

When the proposal was made in summer 2008 to present KrAM (Criticism of Actual Art) internationally and in particular to the audience of INDEX (the Swedish Contemporary Foundation, Stockholm) all the founders of KrAM began to think… Mainly they wondered if the project would be understood, given that it makes sense only in a Ukrainian context and is intended for the Ukrainian reader. It seems that it would be unsuitable for the foreign art expert… But in the end we decided to take a risk and provide a small selection of texts for “beyond Ukraine” using the somewhat surprising name “Useless Reading.” At first glance it’s provocative and resembles more an artistic action. However, by using it, we are stressing the local nature of our project…Perhaps a similar idea is concealed in the Ukrainian name of the project. In Ukrainian “kram” means goods, wares, merchandise. Though in the local context, it’s not that works of art aren’t completely unnecessary, at present they’re not understood; nobody knows “what’s it for?” and “what do you make of this?” Simply speaking, there exists almost no hermeneutic tradition of art messages that require not some kind of ideological perception, but more than anything else – interpretation…Although we don’t claim to have completely filled this niche…

Thus, we are fully aware that KrAM will also be incomprehensible for the international audience. This is not only due to the fact that the overall situation with art in Ukraine is rather difficult to comprehend for a foreigner. We’ll try to provide a few facts.

Fact #1 – Since Ukraine’s independence, in other words starting in 1991, official Soviet art (social realism) that was once considered progressive and modern, lots its importance. Back then it mainly fulfilled the role of a “screen” to allow one to work in art professionally and had few truly devoted adherents. Nevertheless, it customary to call the art that replaced it, that which is created by its contemporaries “here and now” – “contemporary art” rather than using the customary Ukrainian words “suchasne mystetstvo.” The fascination with pronouncing foreign words likely creates a realm of something unusual, and practically everyone who finds their way into it can discover some secret meaning or will automatically join the global context.

Fact #2 - At the National Academy of Fine Arts, the course on history of Ukrainian art ends with the 1960s while the course on history of world art ends with the 2000s. For many Ukrainian students, Kandinsky and Malevich are still considered innovative artists (and by no means classics).

Fact #3 – There is no Museum of Contemporary Art in Ukraine. And most importantly, there is no institution that would take on the work of creating an archive of processes taking place in contemporary art in our country.

Fact #4 – At the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy’s” Center for Contemporary Art (CCA), which was founded by George Soros in Kyiv and has held exhibits of works by Bill Viola, Andy Warhol and Joseph Beuys, it’s never impossible to meeting someone from the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine. But the most widespread reaction by “workers from the arts” from the University to the work of CCA is plain incomprehension and non-acceptance.

Fact #5 – One can count upwards of ten critics in the country, but even they write expert articles rather sporadically given that absence of requests. Therefore, the press release is mainly all that’s ever written about an art event.

It was in this context that the electronic publication KrAM appeared. Its mission is to stimulate art criticism in Ukraine.

Several facts about KrAM:
KrAM is the private initiative of six people, each of whom has some connection to art.

The founding members of KrAM post their own commentaries, essays and critiques about actual art or invite other authors to do so.

KrAM has no editorial board. The texts that appear on the site are the initiative of every founding member, who takes on the responsibility for posting materials.

KrAM receives no outside financial support. It functions as a closed club. The electronic publication is paid for by the founding members’ membership dues.

The club’s founding members:

Volodymyr Babyuk, art consumer
Kateryna Botanova, art manager
Yulia Vaganova, art manager
Alevtina Kakhidze, artist
Taras Lyuty, philosopher
Olesya Ostrovska, curator