Self- organized artistic practices from Ukraine
I R.E.P. : PATRIOTISM //Horizon
II Coordinates of the generation. New Art from Ukraine.
Gallery PM, November 9-22 // Gallery SC, November 6-14
Revolutionary Experimental Space (R.E.P.) is the artist collective from Kiev, Ukraine. It was created in the end of 2004 during the Orange Revolution. From the very beginning the Collective focused on the examination of means of communication in the public space. The language of “street democracy” and the representation of communities in the civic space have become the central themes of R.E.P.’s works. The first project was carried out in the streets of Kiev during the “orange events”. Towards the end of 2005, the artists undertook a series of street actions in which they portrayed art as a political party that fights for the voters’ support. These actions were continued in 2006 under the joint title Intervention.
As many agree, the Orange Revolution was a turning point for contemporary art in Ukraine. It was not only manifestation of the artists’ public commitment and political attitude, but also the first real manifestation of presence of such phenomenon as contemporary art in social and cultural context. It was an opportunity to negotiate conditions for its way of existing in new political reality. This is why REP chose public space as an area of their artistic experiments. On the other hand there were no alternatives because of non existence of any institutional framework and poor conditions for contemporary art in general.
Patriotism is another of R.E.P.’s projects; as a project and the process at the same time, it develops the idea of a universal language- Esperanto. Artists use a range of graphic symbols that refer to particular words and concepts in order to create visual tales in the form of murals. In Patriotism local issues become the topic of universal communication. The project aims to eliminate problems connected with translation. The project’s utopian objective entails the possibility of discussing differences in one common language. Apart from the murals the artists always offer the viewer also a dictionary of symbols and meanings.
Through the “Patriotism” series, R.E.P. collective attempts to empty the term patriotism from its xenophobic and nationalistic connotations so that the concept becomes pure rhetorical form, which is then filled with the new internationalist content. This creates the universal “form of Esperanto,” which highlights the union of diversity. Patriotism by R.E.P. is based on the tradition of monumental agitation, but without the hypnotic effect. The viewer needs to take some time to “read” and reconstruct the meaning of the message.
The R.E.P. collective is also the co-curator of the exhibition FUTURE WAS YESTERDAY/ Coordinates of the generation; New art in Ukraine, in the Student Centre gallery, that runs parallel to Patriotism exhibition. Ten years after the exhibition” FUTURE IS NOW, Ukrainian art in nineties”, curated by Tihomir Milovac and Branka Stipančić in 1999, organized by Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, the new generation of Ukrainian artists will be presented.
The project FUTURE WAS YESTERDAY, Self-organized artistic practices from Ukraine, is curated by Slobodne veze/Loose associations as a part of the program Loose Associations: Lines of Movement. Through several study visits, lectures, presentations and gallery projects, the program is aiming to explore critical and experimental art practices in the several countries of the former “Eastern bloc”: Romania, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.
R.E.P. PATRIOTISM, Gallery PM. Exhibition view.
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