Oct. 23 to Nov. 22, 2014

«Sister Europe»

kuratiert von Lesya Prokopenko
Kyiv Platform for Contemporary Art


The exhibition presents works by artists from Ukraine, who respond to the events unfolding in the country, study circumstances preceding the change, and envision the new society.

There always seems to be a need to construct generalizations in order to describe protests, military invasion, the undeclared violent war, and perpetual social and political transformations. However, every new attempt to work out an overall approach to the events, as well as to ­historize them, at the moment seems to be an instant distortion of the actual state of affairs. In addition to that, every finished semantic construct becomes easy prey for ideological speech and propaganda, which assimilate messages and embellish them with invented meanings.

Looking for ways to talk about the situation in Ukraine, the only efficient method is to narrow the angle and look slightly awry, to fix one’s personal experience and misconceptions in order to see the common story. From the very beginning, the protests in Maidan were driven by and constantly reflected in social media. Running back and forth from the monitor to the streets has been a regular routine for months in Kyiv. The occupation and war develop the same situation, in which the reality of death has been echoed incessantly in social media by millions of private observers, who take offline trips to military hospitals or to occupied cities.

The project constructs the narration with subjective perspectives and personal experiences, presenting first-hand views of Ukrainian events, and a variety of structural lenses these can be regarded through. These fragments deconstruct political content and reveal the eclecticism of conceptions behind news media storylines. But, focusing on disjointed parts and frames, they also recreate the state of informational overdose and everyday fixation on imagery experienced by Ukrainians throughout the recent events—as well as dropping hints for grasping the historical and political vicissitudes of the state breaking with its Soviet past and post-Soviet symptoms. 

Thus, sculptures by Zhanna Kadyrova, ­created in several recent years, suddenly become realistic illustrations of broken lightboxes and building surfaces in Kyiv’s city center. Mykola Ridnyi creates a ­contrast-rich view of protests, combining footage from Maidan with medievalism or draws on the Cold War cult of defense and construction of shelters, which suddenly become a relevant facility in occupied regions. Oleksiy Radynski presents an unambiguous documentation of confrontations and military training, which bear an almost absurdist character—just like the photographs by Oleksandr Burlaka and Ivan Melnychuk taken in the midst of the most violent events of the winter. On the other hand, Lada Nakonechna uses bare documentation made by artistic means as a representation of personal physical (and political) presence in the turmoil of protests, at the same time counterweighting the work done at Maidan for barricade construction with the physical effort of the artist. The same can be said of Vova Vorotniov, who fixes the presence of the occasion, not giving the preference to any particular voices within it: that’s the way it is, and the story is yet to be told.

«Sister Europe» is curated by Lesya Prokopenko.


*The title is borrowed from the song by the British rock band Psychedelic Furs, recorded in 1979. Its lyrics do not mention Europe at all, telling a poetic story of consolation after passing through ruin and despair, of homecoming that is always a little unhomey. Likewise, the exhibition presents «only» personal Ukrainian experiences, but refers to the omnipresence of Europe behind Ukrainian protests: as an initial aspiration, as a witness, as a ghostly idea pursued, as a continent, as the other and the blood relative.

Kyiv Platform for Contemporary Art (p-c-a.org.ua) is an independent non-profit organisation dedicated to developing the cultural scene in Kyiv. The Platform works on innovative forms of education for young artists, integration of art into public spaces, realisation of curatorial research projects in order to create new possibilities for Ukrainian contemporary art as well as to introduce it to the international art scene. Kyiv Platfrom for Contemporary Art was founded in 2009.

Lesya Prokopenko lives and works in Kyiv, Ukraine. She has been engaged in independent visual art projects since 2009, starting with the «Those who are near us» and «Childhood Uncensored» exhibitions at the Visual Culture Research Center. She coordinated the main project of the 1st Kyiv Biennale for Contemporary Art Arsenale 2012. Participant in the ­Public Art Forum (College of Fine Arts, Shanghai University, and the Institute for Public Art, 2013, 2014). She contributed to Flash Art International, Public Art ­China, Krytyka Polityczna, Theory & ­Practice, Art Ukraine. Since 2013 she has been program director of Kyiv Platform for ­Contemporary Art (p-c-a.org.ua). Within the activities of PCA, she curated the «Postcards from Maidan» exhibitions at Brama Grodzka (Lublin) and CCA Zamek ­Ujazdowski (Warsaw).

Oleksandr Burlaka was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, where he currently lives and works. He graduated from Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture in 2005 with a master's in architecture. Architect and artist; member of Grupa predmetiv group, Melnychuk-Burlaka group, interdisciplinary curatorial association Hudrada. Burlaka was a researcher for the exhibition project «Trespassing Modernities» (SALT Galata, Istanbul). As Melnychuk-Burlaka group, the artists participated in the Bergen Assembly 2013 program. The recent project »Island» was presented at Visual Culture Research Center (Kyiv, 2014).

Zhanna Kadyrova lives and works in Kyiv. She has received the Kazimir Malevich Artist Award, the Sergey Kuryokhin Modern Art Award for Public Art, the Grand Prize of the Kyiv Sculpture ­Project (all 2012), as well as the Grand Prize of the PinchukArtCentre in 2013. Her works have been extensively exhibited worldwide, recently at the 55th Venice Biennale, the Moscow Biennale and the Palais de Tokyo, Paris (all 2013). Her recent exhibitions include «Angry birds» (Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw), «Crowd», solo exhibition, (PinchukArtCentre, Kyiv), «Myth of Ukrainian Baroque» (National Art Museum of Ukraine, Kyiv), Kyiv Sculpture Project 2012 (Kyiv).

Ivan Melnychuk was born in Lutsk, Ukraine, and currently lives and works in Kyiv, Ukraine. Architect, artist, member of Melnychuk-Burlaka group, Grupa predmetiv group, Art Workers’ Self-defense Initiative. He specializes in the documentation and study of urban transformations.

Lada Nakonechna is an artist based in Kyiv. She is a member of R.E.P. group and Hudrada Curatorial Union. Finalist in the Kazimir Malevich Art Prize (2008) and PinchukArtСentre Prize (2009, 2011). Lada’s works were exhibited at the National Art Museum of Ukraine, Centre for Contemporary Art Zamek Ujazdowski (Poland), State Contemporary Art Museum of Russian Academy of Arts (Russia), Kalmar Konstmuseum (Sweden), Kunstraum München (Germany), De Appel Art Centre (Netherlands), and in the public space of Leipzig, Lublin, and Kyiv. The artist has participated in the projects of Venice, Kyiv, Moscow, Prague, and Katowice biennials, as well as other international exhibitions.

Oleksiy Radynski is a filmmaker and writer based in Kyiv. 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 the Ukrainian ­edition of «Political Critique» magazine. His texts have recently been published in «Soviet Modernism 1955–1991: Unknown Stories» (ed. by Katharina ­Ritter, Ekaterina Schapiro-Obermair, and Alexandra Wachter, 2012), «Post-Post-Soviet?: Art, Politics, and Society in Russia at the Turn of Decade» (ed. by Marta Dziewianska, Ilya Budraitskis, and Ekaterina Degot, 2013); «Sweet Sixties: Spirits and Specters of a Parallel Avant-Garde» (ed. by Ruben Arevshatyan and Georg Schöllhammer, 2014). His latest films include «Incident in the Museum» (2013), «Ukraine Goes To War» (with Tomas Rafa, 2014), and «Integration» (2014).

Mykola Ridnyi is an artist and curator from Kharkiv. Since 2005 he has been a member of the SOSka group, a co-founder and curator of the gallery-laboratory SOSka, an artist-run space for developing the local culture sphere in Kharkiv. In 2014 he was a resident in the DAAD program (Berlin), in 2011 he participated in Sommerakademie im Centrum Paul Klee curated by Pipilotti Rist (Bern). Recent solo exhibitions include «Shelter» (Visual Culture Research Center, Kyiv, 2014), «Labor Circle» (CCA Zamek Ujazdowski, Warsaw, 2012); among selected group shows are «The Ukrainians» (DAAD galerie, Berlin, 2014), «In the heart of the country» (Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw 2013), «Ukrainian News» (Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, 2013), «The Monument to a Monument» (National Pavillion of Ukraine at the 55th Venice Biennale, Venice, 2013).

Vova Vorotniov is an artist and curator based in Kyiv. Among his recent projects are: «Nothing to see» (Warsaw, 2014), «The Motive for Peace» (curator, Parallel program of Manifesta 10, St. Petersburg, 2014), solo exhibition at Upominki Gallery (Rotterdam, 2013); group exhibitions include «Ukrainian News» (CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, 2013), the First Kyiv Biennale ARSENALE 2012 (Kyiv, 2012), «Ukrainian body» (Center for Visual Culture (Kyiv, 2012), «Samson» within the «Search. Other Spaces» program (CSM, Kyiv, 2012). Curated the international street art festival «Muralissimo» (Kyiv, 2010).