5 Triennial of contemporary Ukrainian art «Ukrainian Cross-Section» UKRAINE! UNMUTED will take place in Kaunas this autumn. On September, 27, at a press conference, the Lviv project team shared the names of the artists who will represent Ukraine in Lithuania, details about the discussion program and other components of UKRAINE! UNMUTED. The participants of the press conference:

— Lida Savchenko-Duda, project manager, Cultural Strategy Institute
— Vlodko Kaufman, art program curator of the project, artist
— Natalia Bunda, director of the development department of the Lviv City Council
— Bohdan Shumylovych, art historian
— Khrystyna Boyko, director of ZMIN Foundation

photo: Bohdan Yemets

The Ukrainian Cross-Section «UKRAINE! UNMUTED» is opening on November 4! The project program will last for a month and will cover several parts: art exhibition, performance block, discussion program and a book of essays.

The Ukrainian Cross-Section is a platform presenting Ukrainian contemporary art abroad for already 15 years. This year the project is out of an art exhibition format because of the war and tragic situation in Ukraine and becomes a space for thinking and talking about Ukraine and Ukrainian culture. The theme that united the various components of the Ukrainian Cross-Section 2022 is UKRAINE! UNMUTED.

The Ukrainian Cross-Section will be held in the city of Kaunas, which is the European Capital of Culture 2022 and, thanks to this status, has a year full of cultural and artistic events. On November 4, The Ukrainian Cross-Section will be opened by a performance program: those will be the “short stories about the path” by Volodymyr TOPIY, Iurii SHTAIDA, Natalia LISOVA, Yaryna SHUMSKA and Volodymyr KAUFMAN.

The exhibition of the Ukrainian Cross-Section includes 17 art projects: video, installations, objects, painting, graphics, performance and photography. The geography of the artists covers Ukrainian cities Dnipro, Kherson, Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, Odessa, Donetsk. The exhibition will present the artworks of Yana BACHYNSKA, Lia DOSTLIEVA and Andrii DOSTLIEV, Kostiantyn ZORKIN, Zhanna KADYROVA, Alevtina KAKHIDZE, Nikolay KARABINOVYCH, Myro KLOCHKO and Anatoliy TATARENKO, Sasha KURMAZ, Katya LIBKIND, Kateryna LYSOVENKO, Pavlo MAKOV, Sergiy PETLYUK, Viacheslav POLIAKOV, Andriy RACHINSKIY and Daniil REVKOVSKIY, FANTASTIC LITTLE SPLASH (Lera MALCHENKO and Oleksandr HANTS), Stanislav TURINA, Volodymyr KAUFMAN (project in cooperation with Maksym MAZUR, Serhiy SAVCHENKO, Yana KRYKUN, Sergiy RADKEVYCH, Natalka SHYMIN, Natalia LISOVA. Some artists, like Pavlo Makov, participated in the Ukrainian Cross-Section before, but this year there are also debutants, like the artistic duo from Kharkiv Andriy Rachinskiy and Daniil Revkovskiy. Interesting fact that one of the art projects will include the film work of Oleksandr Dovzhenko, a famous Ukrainian writer and film director (years active 1926-1956), a classic of world cinematography.

Volodymyr Kaufman and Sergiy Petlyuk are curators of the artistic program of the Ukrainian Cross-Section. 

«While selecting the artists for the triennial, we were interested in those projects with a deeper, non-poster sight, on the current situation in Ukraine particularly. These artworks could have been created even earlier, before a full-scale war of russia against Ukraine, but still they aim to research what we, the Ukrainians, stand on, what’s the scale of our trauma. It is important to convey that Ukrainian culture is self-sufficient, worthy of attention and study, and is not an appendage of “great russian culture”, as the world used to look at it before» — Volodymyr Kaufman says.

The war is a price Ukraine pays to get into the attention of the world and come out of the blind zone — and today is a day to talk about Ukraine more and intensively, mentions Lida Savchenko-Duda, the «Ukrainian Cross-Section» project manager (Cultural Strategy Institute). In the framework of this year’s «Cross-Section» four public discussions are planned — on the subject of cultural diplomacy, Ukraine’s presentation, going through trauma inflicted by russia’s colonial policy. Among speakers are: Paweł Potoroczyn (philosopher, ex-head of Polish institutes in New York and London, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute), Carl Henrik Fredriksson (cultural magazine Eurozine), Jacek Dehnel (poet, artist), Yaroslava Strikha (literary critic) and others.

The artistic and discussion program to be intensified by one more format – the book of essays intended to open up Ukrainian culture to foreigners, to ruin the stereotypes about it. Some of the text authors are: Ivan Kozlenko, Kateryna Botanova, Mykola Ryabchuk, Vitaliy Portnikov, Zoya Zvinyatskovska, Halyna Kruk, as well as Yurko Vovkohon — cultural manager and the military of Ukrainian army, thinking about art and war as a «highly concentrated life» and how do people of culture being on war can convey this experience to others. The curator of the discussion program and the publication is translator, publisher and author Oksana Forostyna.

Bohdan Shumylovych, art historian. Photo: Bohdan Yemets

Even than in the first essays Bohdan Shumylovych, the art historian, being with the «Ukrainian Cross-Section» from a very beginning (since 2010), reflected on the colonial situation and foreign definitions imposed on Ukraine and Ukrainian culture by others (imperial Moscow or the conditional West). He says:

«Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, a well-known American researcher of Indian origin, once wrote the essay «Can the Subaltern Speak». A subaltern is a subordinate, dependent, a slave person.Than the author was concerned about the position of women in India, and in her text she proclaims an important thesis: if the individual is being dominated by someone (it does not matter if it is a colonial, family or other situation), the one lose the ability to speak — not literally, but actually speak for himself… When we left the empire, we did not have the opportunity to name ourselves, we could not, like the subaltern, talk about ourselves, because we were not used to it; we were always outlined, named by someone else. In the above-mentioned essay, in a situation of subordination the author urges to speak. And here is the theme of the 2022 «Cross-Section» — UKRAINE! UNMUTED — coincided with an important argument of the researcher that the post-colonial position turns into a decolonial one when you yourself start to speak, outline yourself… «Ukrainian Cross-Section» can be interpreted as a performance, a gesture, an attempt to catch this speech, to speak, to outline what Ukrainian art is, although it is very difficult, especially for a non-Ukrainian audience.

The triennial is organized by the Cultural Strategy Institute, the Lviv municipal institution, NGO Institute of Actual Art and Virmenska 35 and supported by Kaunas 2022 (Lithuania), Lviv City Council,  ZMIN Foundation and the International Renaissance Foundation (Ukraine).

Nataliya Bunda, director of the development department of the Lviv City Council, emphasizes that nowadays,while there is a separation of Ukrainian and Russian culture in the minds of many foreigners, it is important to present ourselves in a world where many do not know about Ukrainians. Here too, a good amount of Lviv institutions and cultural actors can be named as the one working on: the theater of Lesya Ukrainka and Voskresinnia theater, the Lviv Organ Hall and the Dudaryk choir. Khrystyna Boyko, head of ZMIN Foundation, noted that the support for this year’s «Cross-Section» came from an understanding of its stability and durability and is seen as a «big dialogue» — extremely necessary here in Ukraine, and there abroad. It is also a tool for supporting the global economy, culture and art of Ukraine, as well as individually people of culture, artists, researchers, curators, who, according to the head of the Foundation, are important players in building the desired future.

The pres conference is available on CSI Facebook-page.