5 months of Ukrainian art in Milan: what works from Ukraine will be presented at Triennale Milano

This year, Ukraine is represented for the first time at Triennale Milano, the 23rd international exhibition of architecture, design, and art. As part of the event, a separate pavilion dedicated to Ukrainian art was opened.

Until December 11, Triennale guests can get acquainted with artists and their works famous in Ukraine, and now abroad. They include modern artists, directors, composers, writers, opinion leaders. Despite the war, they continue to work in Ukraine, tour, hold exhibitions and introduce the world to the Ukrainian cultural product.

The creation of the Ukrainian pavilion was suggested by the president of Triennale Milano Stefano Boeri and curator Gianluigi Ricuperati. The idea emerged as a response to russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine. A few days after the russian invasion, the organizers of the Triennale withdrew their invitation to russian cultural figures. But for the first time they considered Ukraine as one of the key participants in the current event. Subsequently, the plan grew into a separate program dedicated to Ukrainian art.

Planeta Ukrain is a space for discussion and acquaintance with Ukrainian culture. This is a series of exhibitions, concerts, film screenings, literary readings, and discussions. The multidisciplinary format presents the entire panorama of modern Ukrainian culture in different directions as best as possible, according to the curators of the program. They were actress Lidia Lieberman, pianist Anastasia Stovbyr, and writer Gianluigi Ricuperati.

Work on the program has continued since March. In May, the pavilion team visited Ukraine to get a closer look at local cultural institutions and learn about the experience of working in war conditions. On March 9, the Ukrainian pavilion was presented through an online discussion with Italian and Ukrainian intellectuals and artists. Leading speakers included Milan Mayor Beppe Sala and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. Since July 15, Planeta Ukrain is open to all visitors to the Triennial.

Gianluigi Ricuperati, writer, curator of the Planeta Ukraine pavilion:

“We invite you to meet representatives of a bright, diverse cultural landscape, who have experienced an unprecedented acceleration of their own lives and the national art movement since the end of February. These are some of the best men and women belonging to the modern Ukrainian culture in the field of visual arts, photography, theater, music and cinema, literature and philosophy. They are determined to create and clearly see the future of their cultural heritage, which must be protected and popularized.

During a visit to Ukraine, the curators and I visited Gostomel and places near Bucha, in the Kyiv region. For me, it’s still some of the strongest experiences I’ve ever had. The devastation and pain behind the dozens of lives lost. It is impossible to truly understand the scale and consequences of this war without visiting Ukraine today. We are witnesses and at the same time judges of these crimes against humanity. But no matter how russia tries to deny the existence of Ukrainian identity, no matter how hard it tries to destroy the culture of this people, in fact we see: “Planet Ukraine” is alive more than ever. “

Ukrainian Pavilion Program

Planeta Ukrain occupies three Triennial spaces at once. The central installation in front of the entrance to the pavilion was produced by the artist Nikita Kadan – A Check Point for the President of Planet Earth. The exposition of visual art is continued by the work of other recognized artists – Boris Mikhailov, Yevgenia Belorusets, Oleksandra Anisimova. Exhibitions will continue to run until December 11.

The laboratory of the modern Ukrainian opera Opera Aperta is working on the theatrical part of the program. Its founders, composers Roman Gryhoriv and Ilia Razumeiko, will present the archaeological opera Chornobyldorf to Italian viewers on October 22. It is produced by Olga Diatel. The performance entered the top 6 world operas according to the international competition Music Theater Now. Since the beginning of the full-scale war, the team has been actively touring Europe. The theatrical program was pre-selected with the support of the Ukrainian Institute as a partner.

The Kyiv Contemporary Music Days team presents Trajectory of [un] known. These are six concerts-researches of works by contemporary Ukrainian composers for solo instruments, contextualized by the music of authors from Italy, USA, Lithuania, Poland, Japan, Finland, France. The concerts will take place on November 12 and 13 at the Triennale Museum’s Salone d’Onore. The performers include violinist Orest Smovzh and contrabassist Nazariy Stets (Ukraine) and flutist Livia Schweitzer (Italy – Finland). The music program of the event is produced by Daria Vdovina, Kateryna Polevianenko, Anastasia Stovbyr, Orest Smovzh, Dmitro Babenko, and Albert Saprykin.

The Art and Risk in Between film program includes Ukrainian films such as “Dixie Land” by Roman Bondarchuk, “Ivan’s Land” by Andrii Lysetskyi, and “The Earth is Blue, as an Orange” by Iryna Tsilyk. This is a documentary triptych about the changing Ukrainian reality and creative people who, despite the risks, create music, art, and cinema. Screenings will take place on September 13th. It is also planned to discuss films with the authors. The program is implemented by film curator Olga Birzul in partnership with the Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival.

The Triennial will host an evening of Ukrainian literature on September 27 under the supervision of an actress, Lidia Lieberman. The program includes reading works of the 19th-21st centuries, a meeting with the author of the book “Ask Miechka” Eugenia Kuznetsova, with Italian translators Giovanna Brogi and Lorenzo Pompeo, as well as performing songs.

The children’s program Rainbow After the Storm will be held in parallel, with concerts and interactive events for children from Italy and Ukraine. Young Triennale guests are invited to learn how to draw pictures of nature and imitate the sounds of animals with the help of unusual harp playing techniques. Children will be able to learn about European and Ukrainian contemporary piano music, learn to react to and interact with music through movement, drawing, and animation in the sand. The children’s program will be on 12-13 November. The curator of children’s events is Anastasia Stovbyr, who will also play the piano. Other participants include Valeriya Tikhonova (harp), Svitlana Telbukh (sand animation), Lora Litkovska (art education), Maria Pustovit (texts).

The participation of artists in international events is an opportunity to show the diversity of Ukrainian culture and art

Since February 24, Ukraine has occupied the front pages of the world media. A full-scale war caused such targeted attention. However, along with a purely military context, the issue of exporting Ukrainian culture is no less important. It is now that this should become one of the priority areas of work for the government and non-governmental institutions, for our artists and cultural representatives. At the same time, it is important to deal with the consequences of russian propaganda, which has taken place for decades, including at foreign artistic events. Regular participation in events such as the Milan Triennale will help not only tell the truth about the war, but also show the cultural heritage and diversity of Ukraine.

“The theme of the current Triennale — Unknown Uknowns. Introduction to Mysteries — was chosen a few years ago and takes on a different meaning today for us. We are really in the gray zone of the “unknown” for most Europeans. Now it is especially important to reveal, demonstrate, speak, act together in culture and art. We need to invest considerable efforts and resources in promoting Ukrainian narratives and our culture abroad. It is worth working on this both domestically, increasing competencies, and building new partnerships globally,” said Galyna Gryhorenko, Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine.

Roman Gryhoriv and Ilia Razumeiko, composers, directors of the Chornobyldorf opera: “This work was created two years before the large-scale war of russia against Ukraine. And it is now that the opera has become radically relevant. Chornobdorf is a fictional story about a post-apocalyptic society, about disaster survivors, about their lives, beliefs, rituals, and art. Last year, we had a rather abstract idea of a probable nuclear explosion. Whereas today, under the conditions of occupation by russian troops of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, the fear of a nuclear threat is quite justified. The context of the work has changed for both its creators and viewers around the world. “

Nikita Kadan, artist and author of the A Check Point for the President of Planet Earth project: “‘Monument to the Head of the Globe’ is a work of Ukrainian art moved to the ‘blind spot’ of that cultural experience that was deactivated by a full-scale war. This is a monument to the russian futurist poet Velimir Khlebnikov, recreated from a sketch of the Ukrainian constructivist artist Vasil Yermilov. The work speaks of the change in historical optics after which universalism begins to be read as imperialism. Russian missiles, which repeatedly hit Kharkiv this spring, created a place of indistinguishment in the history of art.”

The full Triennale Milano program can be found here.

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Triennale Milano has been considered one of the leading cultural international events for many years, as it represents the versatility of the modern world through many artistic forms: design, architecture, visual, stage and vocal art. The goal of the Triennale is to try to understand modernity by combining the experience of different cultures and languages in one place. In a place for joint reflection and discussion about a culture that is dynamically developing and offers new meanings and points of view on eternal topics.

The program of the Ukrainian pavilion Planeta Ukrain was created on the initiative of Triennale Milano President Stefano Boeri and curator Gianluigi Ricuperati. The events are co-organized by the State Agency of Ukraine for Arts and Art Education and the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine.