The Kyiv InternationalKyiv Biennial 2017 project aims to explore and reveal the emancipatory potential of the idea of the political International, which emerged in Europe. Today, in the age of structural crisis of global institutions — when the maintenance of a transnational status quo is constructed from violated borders, peripheral wars, and the emergence of new walls and conflicts — the idea of cross-border unity and international solidarity is of utmost urgency for the future survival of Europe.

Ukraine and the countries of the European Union share a great number of challenges and threats today. Ukraine has recently weathered several powerful new experiences: enthusiasm and disappointment at the Maidan revolution, the shock of war, ongoing infractions to established territorial parameters and protection mechanisms, and the mass displacement of people, whilst the EU has experienced increasing flows of refugees, the shrinking of its territory after Brexit, and the rise of far-right populism, becoming a battlefield for new forms of terrorism. The absence of ready-made patterns for dealing with these experiences, discontent with preexisting structures, along with a strong desire and urgent need for change, provide a conduit for an intense intellectual and creative search for the new.

We are confronted with the most pressing questions of our time by the ongoing war conflicts in Eastern Europe and the Middle East: how to maintain safe, sustainable, free societies when both the state and international mechanisms to do so are currently proving ineffective? What forms could a new and efficient international solidarity take? What kinds of sensibilities, conceptual structures, and pathways for thinking and imagining should we develop? What might the basis for the new International become, and who are its subjects?

The Kyiv International Kyiv Biennial 2017 will take place in the format of an international forum for art and knowledge, integrating art projects with a number of institutional collaborations to create agoras for debate. Lectures, panel discussions, seminars, and workshops led by well-known historians, philosophers, economists, and practitioners in the cultural sector will converge upon artistic and intellectual pursuits for critical answers to common concerns, while a number of exhibitions will lend an alternative optics to urgent contemporary issues through the medium of the visual arts. A program of free thematic public events will also address the political, social, economic, and historical circumstances in today’s Ukraine and Europe, as well as on a global scale.

The Kyiv International − Kyiv Biennial 2017 will explore different historical forms and contemporary examples of Internationals that took place in the arts, culture, and educational spheres by investigating their methodological and communicative approaches together with their ability to imagine and create new political formats. Major emphasis will be put on the aesthetic and political relevance of modernism today, which carries a high degree of latent potential for thinking and inventing alternative societal projects critically needed worldwide at this moment. Originating in Europe, modernism spread around the globe throughout the 20th century, demonstrating the capability of being local and global at the same time, while still preserving its national particularities, along with the development of its international universality. As an unfinished project open to the future, the modernist heritage within contemporary cultural and political practices can indicate a possible exit strategy from the political deadlock of economic crisis, nationalist populisms, and war.

The Kyiv International − Kyiv Biennial 2017 is meant to function as a translation machine in a political sense – a vehicle by which to transmit local social practices and political experiences internationally, thereby constructing common tools to work with and build upon. An international political language that can define our new lexicon, map the affects that drive us, and let us express ourselves relevantly while constituting our shared points of interest, remains one of the key issues at stake today. Common European space requires a common European vocabulary to provide a basis and a platform for understanding our varied experiences, and to reflect upon possible solutions to our political problems, without hiding social reality. The Kyiv International biennial, as a laboratory of political translation, contributes in this manner to the development of a newly emerging collective subjectivity grounded in democratic internationalism.

Developing out of the structures and institutional strategies of The School of Kyiv Kyiv Biennial 2015, The Kyiv International 2017 aims to establish collaborations between civil society organizations, cultural centers, art institutions, and academia on an international basis. Realizing the biennial format as a multi-institutional political framework on an international scale, The Kyiv International Kyiv Biennial 2017 will model an institutional International, creating sustainable networks for collaboration and a space for solidarity and support that is sorely missing in the field of politics today.

 

Projects: 

 

Exhibitions

    “The Festivities Are Cancelled!” exhibition by Hudrada curatorial group (Ukraine)

The exhibition “The Festivities Are Cancelled!” is dedicated to the memory of revolution and the phenomenon of censorship. The first part of the exhibition will take place in the “UFO” building of the Institute of Scientific, Technical, and Economic Information and features performative statements related to political foresight and the hope for social change. The second part of the exhibition will be in the Pavlo Tychyna Literary-Memorial Museum-Apartment and will continue the prior statements with a talk about Soviet censorship and its traces within current social practices.

     “Dead Souls” exhibition by Marina Naprushkina (Germany) and Oliver Ressler (Austria)

In the “Dead Souls” exhibition at Visual Culture Research Center Marina Naprushkina will present the key provisions within EU asylum and migration policy, which often lead to serious economic and social inequalities – the borders are so sealed, in fact, that asylum seekers are oftentimes hardly able to reach “the safe shore.” Oliver Ressler will focus on struggles to obtain citizenship while, at the same time, questioning the implicitly exclusionary nature of the concept. He will also investigate the rare case of occupied factories, in which the purpose of these organized struggles is to bring production under workers’ control.

    “Market” exhibition (curated by Hanna Tsyba, Ukraine)

The buildings of Ukrainian indoor markets, constructed in the 1960s–1980s, are unique monuments to late modernism. However, these structures are not formally recognized by Ukrainian law and are thus amenable to devastating renovations. The purpose of the “Market” project is to draw attention to these buildings as newly discovered monuments by exploring the history of their architecture, and by reflecting on the contexts of their creation and existence in the past, present and future. The exhibition will take place at the Kyiv Zhytniy Market, which was constructed in 1980 in the so-called International style.

    “Dance, Dance, Dance” exhibition (curated by Serge Klymko, Ukraine)

The image of a rave, buried in the late 90s, has recently been resurrected, but this time much farther to the East than East Berlin. Kyiv is proclaimed to be one of its monasteries, having been discovered by Western pilgrims amid a riot, the square, democracy, and all else that lies North of the Wall. The New East, marked by a new politico-poetic formation of freedom and vital energy, has become a sanctuary for those seeking life outside the fortress of the Old World. Tracking down these self-proclaimed ‘new Berlins,’ the exhibition at BURSA GALLERY takes a look at the post-Soviet dance scene as a luminous symptom of social and political processes. 

 

Ukrainian Revolutionary Cinema Avant-Garde

(in collaboration with National Oleksandr Dovzhenko Center)

Histories of the Soviet cinema usually ignore the Soviet Republics and create monolithic and monotheistic images of Soviet poetics and politics. As an alternative to that particular perspective, the case of VUFKU (All-Ukrainian Photo Cinema Administration) provides us with a unique opportunity to reestablish Ukrainian culture of the 1920s in a broader international context. The series of VUFKU films, which consists of “Arsenal” (1929) by Oleksandr Dovzhenko, “In Spring” (1929) by Mikhail Kaufman, “The Eleventh Year” (1927) by Dzyga Vertov, “Self-Seeker” (1928) by Mykola Shpykovskyi, and “Perekop” (1929) by Ivan Kavaleridze have not only become some of the best internationally recognized avant-garde films, but are in and of themselves vivid depictions of the revolutionary moment of the 1920s.

 

Radio International

By interacting with the audience, Radio International will create a platform where different voices are invited to meet and communicate their collective and personal experiences, marked by the themes and discussions taking place at the Kyiv biennial on a national and international scale. As the primary voice medium for the biennial, Radio will be spoken in 2-3 working languages; and, as an experimental platform, Radio International will host a number of lectures, workshops and performances dedicated to the problems of hearing and speech in today’s world.

 

Music Program

This series of experimental music performances will engage local and international artists working at the intersection of several genres, deconstructing acoustic perception and different means of musical production. The program aims to bring together both young and well-known performers in order to showcase a range of sound explorations from free improvisation to programming composition. The events will be hosted at the Institute of Scientific, Technical, and Economic Information concert hall – itself a late modernist masterpiece, built to synthesize acoustic and visual perception in the arts.  

 

Publication

Guidebook of The Kyiv International with a collection of texts by historians, political philosophers and artists, some of whom are participants in the Kyiv biennial.

 

Locations:

Main Site: Institute of Scientific, Technical and Economic Information (“UFO”, 180 Antonovycha St., metro Lybidska).

Visual Culture Research Center (44 Hlybochytska St., trams #14, #18 from metro Kontraktova Ploshcha).

Zhytniy Market (16 Verkhniy Val St., metro Kontraktova Ploshcha).

BURSA GALLERY (11-B Kostyantynivska St., metro Kontraktova Ploshcha).

Pavlo Tychyna Literary-Memorial Museum-Apartment (5 Tereshchenkivska St., ap. 1, 3, metro Teatralna).

Artists’ Studios at 33 Soshenko (33 Soshenko St., trolley bus #18 from metro Maidan Nezalezhnosti).

 

Organized by Visual Culture Research Center (Kyiv, Ukraine).

 

Emblem and biennial design: Experimental Jetset (Amsterdam, the Netherlands).

Institutional Partners: Avtonomi Akadimia (Athens, Greece), BURSA GALLERY (Kyiv, Ukraine), Columbia Global Centers | Paris (France), DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program (Berlin, Germany), De Balie (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), Depo (Istanbul, Turkey), Depot (Vienna, Austria), documenta 14 (Athens/Kassel, Greece/Germany), European Alternatives (Paris, France), Forum Transregionale Studien (Berlin, Germany), Hromadske TV (Kyiv, Ukraine), Institute for Human Sciences (Vienna, Austria), Medusa Books (Kyiv, Ukraine), National Oleksandr Dovzhenko Center (Kyiv, Ukraine), Political Critique (Warsaw, Poland), Shedhalle (Zurich, Switzerland), Studio 14 (Athens, Greece), Transeuropa Festival 2017 (Madrid, Spain), tranzit.cz (Prague, Czech Republic).

Partners: British Council / Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, ERSTE Foundation, European Cultural Foundation, International Renaissance Foundation, Robert Bosch Foundation.