At the Front Line: contemporary Ukrainian art in Canada

Curators of the exhibition Svitlana Biedarieva (right) and Hanna Deikun

OSEREDOK Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Center.

“At the Front Line. Ukrainian Art, 2013–2019” explores how visual artists interpret and conceptualize the turbulent political and cultural situation in Ukraine of the last six years: from the civil protests in Kyiv (2013–2014) to the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the military conflict with Russia in the east of the country (2014 – today). The project aims to talk about Ukraine using the visual language of the artistic works and to discuss the significance and possibilities of art and artists in the context of the war. It will help fuel an international dialogue about how the artists reflect on civil protests of the Maidan and the war with Russia, and how the situation encourages art production at the front line.

Roman Minin, Plan of Escape from the Donetsk Region, digital art, 2011

The exhibition opened at OSEREDOK Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Center on 26 February and will stay until 29 April. The participants of the exhibition include leading Ukrainian artists, such as Yevgen Nikiforov, Piotr Armianovski, Olia Mykhailiuk, Roman Minin, Yevgenia Belorusets, Kristina Norman, Lada Nakonechna, Mykola Ridnyi, Yuri Koval, Anton Popernyak, Roman Mikhailov, Svitlana Biedarieva, and the documentation of works from the Platform “Izolyatsia” (Daniel Buren, Pascale Marthine Tayou, and Leandro Erlich).

The opening gathered Ukrainian community in Winnipeg, with the President of Oseredok, Don Puhach, and the director, Yulia Zmerzlaya, giving the introductory words about the exhibition. The curators, Svitlana Biedarieva and Hanna Deikun, then gave a guided tour, speaking of the political and social context of the creation of the works in the exhibition and the ways they address the topics of the war, violence, and displacement. This is the first research-led exhibition that embarks on these topics presented in Canada. The plans are currently being confirmed to create an itinerary exhibition that would visit various Canadian cities.

Yevgen Nikiforov, Photograph from the series _On the Republic’s Monuments_, 2015-2018

This project began in Mexico City as the first large-scale presentation of the contemporary Ukrainian art scene in Latin America. Between September 2019 and February 2020, together with this exhibition, the curators have organized documentary screenings and debates, giving the word to international artists, filmmakers, and historians at three important cultural venues in Mexico City: The National Museum of Cultures of the World, The Museum of Memory and Tolerance, and the National Cineteca. Now, the curators are delighted to present this project in Canada.

Curators: Svitlana Biedarieva, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, sbiedarieva@gmail.com; Hanna Deikun, Centre for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE), Mexico City, hannadkn@gmail.com

This project is realized with the generous support of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta.

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