Decolonising Art.
Beyond the Obvious.

Ukrainian Pavilion Public Programme at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia

Decolonising Art. Beyond the Obvious is an interdisciplinary programme of the Ukrainian Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia The Milk of Dreams that engages artists, curators, public intellectuals, researchers, and a wider audience.

About the programme of the Ukrainian Pavilion

The series of discussions, talks and meetings focus on a decolonial view on Ukraine and Eastern Europe as a response to the ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine, but also the broader perspective on the global art scene in the current shift in the geopolitical and cultural environment. 

The programme is expected to provoke an inclusive, sensitive, and critical conversation on the deep embeddedness of the (mis)perceptions of Ukraine that are reproduced in the structures of global hierarchies and injustices. The overall objective of the programme, therefore, is to introduce and spread the understanding of the imperial narratives on Ukraine that are enforced by Russia through cultural practices and relations. By unveiling the hidden goals of Russian propaganda in culture, the Ukrainian Institute aims at strengthening the Ukrainian agency and increasing the visibility of Ukrainian art which is still often overlooked.

The opening discussion titled How Russian War Against Ukraine Changed the [Art] World was launched in April. The autumn programme arranged in four modules (four long weekends) is a continuation of the started discussion:

  • “How Do We Decolonise Art?” on 2–4 September 
  • Art as a Weapon and as a Target” on 8–10 October;
  • Fallen Between the Cracks. Unknown Art Histories” on 28–30 October;
  • Histories Behind the Pavilion. Decoloniality and Biennials” on 17–19 November.

Programme will be streamed online on the Ukrainian Institute Facebook page

Art as a Weapon and as a Target

This second of the series of events within the programme will take place on 8–10 October in Venice (Teatro Piccolo Arsenale ). Programme will be streamed online on the Ukrainian Institute Facebook and Youtube pages. 

Programme

8 October

15:00-15:15 Introduction Tetyana Filevska

15:15-15:45 Key-note Borys Filonenko. Art After Pacifism

15:45-17:00 Opening discussion: Art and War: Beyond the Obvious. Borys Filonenko, Kuba Snopek, Rosie Cooper. Moderated by Tetyana Filevska

17:15-18:15 Screening: Furqat Palvan-Zade. The Ball and the Polo Stick, or the Book of Ecstasy (rough cut) (23’) followed by Q&A 

9 October

14:45-15:00 ScreeningPeace and Tranquility by Myro Klochko and Andriy Bondarenko (11’)

15:00-15:45 Key-note by Daria Badior. The Power of Culture During the War: Who Will Watch the Watchmen

15:45-17:30 Discussion: Decolonising Art at the Time of War. Daria Badyor, Furqat Palvan-Zade, Maria Blyzinsky, Lia Dostleva. Moderated by Tetyana Filevska

Participants

  • Borys Filonenko, co-curator of the Ukrainian Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, art critic, lecturer, and editor-in-chief of IST Publishing (Ukraine)
  • Daria Badior, journalist, co-founder of the Union of Film Critics of Ukraine and the Coalition of Culture Actors (Ukraine)
  • Furqat Palvan-Zade, independent curator, researcher, and filmmaker (Uzbekistan)
  • Kuba Snopek, urban designer and writer (Poland) 
  • Lia Dostleva, artist, cultural anthropologist, essayist (Ukraine) 
  • Maria Blyzinsky, heritage consultant and independent curator, Curator Emeritus at the Royal Museums Greenwich (UK)
  • Rosie Cooper, Director of Wysing Arts Centre (UK) 
  • Tetyana Filevska, Creative Director of the Ukrainian institute (Ukraine) 

How Do We Decolonise Art? 

This first of the series of events within the programme took place on 2–4 September and was streamed online on the Ukrainian Institute Facebook page.

2 September

Opening discussion: russian war against Ukraine, decoloniality and art.

 

Speakers – Vitaliy Chernetsky, Anna Lazar.

Moderated by Kateryna Botanova

Chernetsky Vitaliy

Chernetsky Vitaliy is a Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Kansas. He is the author of Mapping Postcommunist Cultures: Russia and Ukraine in the Context of Globalization (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007; Ukrainian-language version, 2013) and of articles on modern and contemporary Slavic and East European literatures and cultures where he seeks to highlight cross-regional and cross-disciplinary contexts. 

He is a past president of the American Association for Ukrainian Studies (2009–2018) and the current first vice president of the Shevchenko Scientific Society in the U.S.

Lazar Anna

Lazar Anna is a curator at the Museum of Art in Łódź, publicist working with “Nowa Europa Wschodnia” and “Czas Literatury”, translator (Oksana Zabuzhko, Illya Kaminsky, Kateryna Dysa). Worked in the field of public diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as deputy director and acting director at the Polish Institutes in Kyiv (2008–2014) and St. Petersburg (2015–2018).

Botanova Kateryna

Botanova Kateryna is a Ukrainian cultural critic, curator, and writer based in Basel. She is a co-curator of CULTURESCAPES, a Swiss multidisciplinary biennial, and an editor of the critical anthologies that accompany each festival, among them Culturescapes 2021 Amazonia: Anthology as Cosmology; On the Edge: Culturescapes 2019 Poland; Culturescapes 2023: Sahara (upcoming). 

She is a guest curator for the opening of the Jam Factory Art Center in Lviv, Ukraine, that due to the Russian invasion was postponed to 2023. A member of PEN Ukraine, she publishes widely on arts and culture.

3 September

Key-note by Madina Tlostanova. Decoloniality: between a travelling concept, a propagandistic cliche and a relational onto-epistemic political, ethical and aesthetic stance.

Tlostanova Madina

Tlostanova Madina is a decolonial feminist author and professor of postcolonial feminisms at the Department of Thematic Studies (Gender studies) at Linköping University, Sweden.  She focuses on decolonial thought, particularly in its aesthetic, epistemic and gender aspects, on postsocialist human condition, culture and art, and on critical future studies.

3 September

Discussion: How do we decolonise art?

 

Speakers – Madina Tlostanova, Kateryna Botanova, Misho Antadze.

Moderated by Tetyana Filevska

Botanova Kateryna

Botanova Kateryna is a Ukrainian cultural critic, curator, and writer based in Basel. She is a co-curator of CULTURESCAPES, a Swiss multidisciplinary biennial, and an editor of the critical anthologies that accompany each festival, among them Culturescapes 2021 Amazonia: Anthology as Cosmology; On the Edge: Culturescapes 2019 Poland; Culturescapes 2023: Sahara (upcoming). 

She is a guest curator for the opening of the Jam Factory Art Center in Lviv, Ukraine, that due to the Russian invasion was postponed to 2023. A member of PEN Ukraine, she publishes widely on arts and culture.

Tlostanova Madina

Tlostanova Madina is a decolonial feminist author and professor of postcolonial feminisms at the Department of Thematic Studies (Gender studies) at Linköping University, Sweden.  She focuses on decolonial thought, particularly in its aesthetic, epistemic and gender aspects, on postsocialist human condition, culture and art, and on critical future studies.

Antadze Misho

Antadze Misho is a filmmaker and artistic researcher from Tbilisi, Georgia. He holds a BFA in Film/Video from CalArts, and an MA in Artistic Research through Cinema from the Netherlands Film Academy. As a practitioner and researcher, his interests include the meeting and departure points of cinema and history, as well as animal and non-human perspectives.

His works have screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Full Frame Film Festival, DocLisboa amongst many others. The Harvest was awarded at Jeonju International Film Festival and at Palic European Film Festival and was screened online on e-Flux.

Filevska Tetyana

Filevska Tetyana is a creative director of the Ukrainian Institute, Ukraine’s cultural diplomacy organisation. Art-manager, curator and writer. Her background is in philosophy with experience in contemporary art and Ukrainian art history of the 20 century.

Author of the books “KAZIMIR MALEVICH. Kyiv Period 1928-1930″, “Kazimir Malevich. Kyiv Aspect” and ” Dmitro Gorbachov. Sluchayi “. Worked in various art institutions in Ukraine. Tetyana is curating a public programme of the Ukrainian Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale dedicated to decolonisation.

3 September

Discussion: Decolonising art institutions.

 

Speakers – Alex Halberstadt, Angela Vettese, Jurriaan Cooiman.

Moderated by Maria Isserlis

Halberstadt Alex

Halberstadt Alex is Senior Writer at the Museum of Modern Art. His most recent book, a family memoir titled Young Heroes of the Soviet Union, was a New York Times Critics’ Top Book of 2020. He contributes to the New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker, and other publications, and teaches at New York University.

Vettese Angela

Vettese Angela is associate professor at Iuav University in Venice, Faculty of Arts and Design, where she is the founder and director of the Visual Art Graduate Programme. She has been curator of the Advanced Course in Visual Arts at the Fondazione Antonio Ratti (1995–2003), director of the Galleria Civica di Modena (2005–2008), director of the Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro, Milan (2008–2010), president of the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice (2002–2013), director of Arte Fiera, Bologna (2017–2018).

Her main research interests have been: The art world and its relation with the market; the development of art languages and techniques, with special attention to the use of the body; the educational system in contemporary art; the National Pavilions at the Venice Biennale.

Cooiman Jurriaan

Cooiman Jurriaan is a Founder and Director of CULTURESCAPES, a Swiss multidisciplinary biennial. Recent focus of the Biennale were 2021 Amazonas, 2019 Poland, 2017 Greece, 2015 Iceland. Now he is working on the 2023 edition on Sahara and the 2025 edition on Himalaya.

Maria Isserlis

Maria Isserlis is a curator, art historian and co-founder of the curatorial platform A:D:curatorial based in Berlin and Dresden. Since 2013, Maria has been working as the General Coordinator of MANIFESTA 10 (St. Petersburg, RU). Following Manifesta 11 (Zurich, CH), she joined the curatorial team of the biennial.

In 2019, Maria joined the curatorial team of the museum Albertinum (Dresden, GER) and in 2021 she curated the show ‘Whatever happens, we must be prepared’ by Alban Muja at the National Gallery of Kosovo (Pristina, KOS).

4 September

Lecture by Kateryna Botanova. On European Orient: Ukrainian Twofold Decolonial War  

Botanova Kateryna

Botanova Kateryna is a Ukrainian cultural critic, curator, and writer based in Basel. She is a co-curator of CULTURESCAPES, a Swiss multidisciplinary biennial, and an editor of the critical anthologies that accompany each festival, among them Culturescapes 2021 Amazonia: Anthology as Cosmology; On the Edge: Culturescapes 2019 Poland; Culturescapes 2023: Sahara (upcoming). 

She is a guest curator for the opening of the Jam Factory Art Center in Lviv, Ukraine, that due to the Russian invasion was postponed to 2023. A member of PEN Ukraine, she publishes widely on arts and culture.

4 September

Closing discussion: Can Art Fix the Collapsed World?

Speakers – Vitaliy Chernetsky, Misho Antadze, Anna Lazar.

Moderated by Tetyana Filevska

Chernetsky Vitaliy

Chernetsky Vitaliy is a Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Kansas. He is the author of Mapping Postcommunist Cultures: Russia and Ukraine in the Context of Globalization (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007; Ukrainian-language version, 2013) and of articles on modern and contemporary Slavic and East European literatures and cultures where he seeks to highlight cross-regional and cross-disciplinary contexts. 

He is a past president of the American Association for Ukrainian Studies (2009–2018) and the current first vice president of the Shevchenko Scientific Society in the U.S.

Lazar Anna

Lazar Anna is a curator at the Museum of Art in Łódź, publicist working with “Nowa Europa Wschodnia” and “Czas Literatury”, translator (Oksana Zabuzhko, Illya Kaminsky, Kateryna Dysa). Worked in the field of public diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as deputy director and acting director at the Polish Institutes in Kyiv (2008–2014) and St. Petersburg (2015–2018).

Antadze Misho

Antadze Misho is a filmmaker and artistic researcher from Tbilisi, Georgia. He holds a BFA in Film/Video from CalArts, and an MA in Artistic Research through Cinema from the Netherlands Film Academy. As a practitioner and researcher, his interests include the meeting and departure points of cinema and history, as well as animal and non-human perspectives.

His works have screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Full Frame Film Festival, DocLisboa amongst many others. The Harvest was awarded at Jeonju International Film Festival and at Palic European Film Festival and was screened online on e-Flux.

Filevska Tetyana

Filevska Tetyana is a creative director of the Ukrainian Institute, Ukraine’s cultural diplomacy organisation. Art-manager, curator and writer. Her background is in philosophy with experience in contemporary art and Ukrainian art history of the 20 century.

Author of the books “KAZIMIR MALEVICH. Kyiv Period 1928-1930″, “Kazimir Malevich. Kyiv Aspect” and ” Dmitro Gorbachov. Sluchayi “. Worked in various art institutions in Ukraine. Tetyana is curating a public programme of the Ukrainian Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale dedicated to decolonisation.

Film screenings within the programme

The programme also included several film screenings from different parts of the world, namely “Peace and Tranquility” by Myro Klochko and Andriy Bondarenko, “Sometimes It Was Beautiful” by Christian Nyampeta and “3 Songs for Saturn” by Misho Antadze.

Screening: Myro Klochko and Andriy Bondarenko. Peace and Tranquility (11’), 2022

Myro Klochko and Andriy Bondarenko. Peace and Tranquility (11’), 2022

As Russian troops were crossing into Ukraine, Andrii Bondarenko wrote a play that looks back on a life bookended by conflict.

Two weeks after Russia invaded his country, acclaimed playwright Bondarenko focused on the life he has lived. A peaceful childhood had followed bloodshed. And now, in adulthood, he faced the threat that previous generations of his family had witnessed. These thoughts took form in a one-act play, written in response to events as they were unfolding. To accompany this filmed version of the play, director Myro Klochko draws on photographs from Bondarenko’s life, conjuring up the people who have populated it and, by extension, the people of Ukraine. The result is an act of artistic expression, of remembrance and, ultimately, of resistance.

Screening: Christian Nyampeta. Sometimes It Was Beautiful (38ʼ), 2018

Christian Nyampeta. Sometimes It Was Beautiful (38ʼ), 2018

The film features an unusual group of friends who gather to watch and critique films made by Swedish cinematographer Sven Nykvist in the Congo between 1948 and 1952. Their discussion highlights enduring tensions surrounding social transformation, cultural property, and who has the right to representation.

Screening: Misho Antadze. 3 Songs for Saturn (11ʼ), 2021

Misho Antadze. 3 Songs for Saturn (11ʼ), 2021

In May 2020, an alligator died in the Moscow zoo. What did he remember? 3 SONGS FOR SATURN uses found-footage from cinema history and YouTube to reconstruct the journey of a real-life alligator, whose biography echoes a lesser-known mass deportation of the 20th century.

The opening discussion “How Russian war against Ukraine changed the [art] world”

How Russian war against Ukraine changed the [art] world” took place on 22 April, 2022, at 15:00 and introduced the programme. Participants of the discussion: 

  • Borys Filonenko, Co-curator of the Ukrainian Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Editor-in-Chief of Ist Publishing (Kharkiv, Ukraine)
  • Alevtina Kakhidze, Artist. Artist at War (Kyiv, Ukraine)
  • Serhii Plokhii, Historian, Director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University (USA)
  • Olesia Ostrovska-Liuta, Director General of the Mystetskyi Arsenal National Arts and Culture Museum Complex (Kyiv, Ukraine)
  • Tetyana Filevska, Creative Director of the Ukrainian institute (Kyiv, Ukraine)

The programme is an integral part of the Ukraine Pavilion exhibition project, supervised by the Commissioner Kateryna Chuyeva, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine and curated by Lizaveta German, Maria Lanko, Borys Filonenko and will be held in collaboration with the Ukrainian Institute, the participating artists and curators of other national pavilions. 

The project will target a wide audience of Biennale Arte 2022 visitors, accredited professionals, and media. 

Hosted by La Biennale di Venezia.  

 

Organised by

  • Ukrainian Pavilion
  • Ukrainian institute

Partners

  • Ukrainian Pavilion International Renaissance Foundation 
  • Ukrainian institute Platform for interdisciplinary practice Open Place