Lara Baladi in Ukrainian Exhibition: Revolutionize!

Watch Out for Zuzu Detail. Vox Populi, Tahrir Archives online open source platform. Revolutionize, Mystetskyi Arsenal. Lara Baladi, 2018.

ACT Lecturer Lara Baladi is taking part in the upcoming show, Revolutionize! in Ukraine. The show will open on November 21 at the Mystetskyi arsenal in Kiev. Revolutionize! is an international research and exhibition project that brings together art and museum institutions from Ukraine and the Netherlands. 30 contemporary artists and art groups from 15 countries will analyze the social phenomenon of revolutions through artistic mediums including installation, painting, multimedia, photography, and video. The exhibition will also present artifacts from the National Museum of the Revolution of Dignity collection.

Revolutionize! A user guide towards 2024

The exhibition Revolutionize! marks the 5th anniversary of the Revolution of Dignity (Euromaidan) as well as the 15th anniversary of the Orange Revolution. In anticipation of the permanent venue of the Museum of the Revolution of Dignity, the exhibition at Mystestkyi Arsenal presents an experimental and momentary model for the museum. In such manner the exhibition Revolutionize! raises a fundamental question: How to access recent events and allow space for the multiplicity of voices that should be heard when history is still in the making? Hence, this speculative project is a contribution to the thinking exercise that precedes the creation of a new museum and the commemoration of past events. In this case the thinking exercise is not solely based on theory and discourse, but is rooted in contemporary artistic practices as well as artifacts and objects from the Revolution of Dignity. Personal, critical and retrospective takes on the particular historical event – the Revolution of Dignity – will be represented by the artworks of Ukrainian and international artists, examples of collective creativity of Maidan, artifacts and objects.

A museum is a place where a society tells stories to itself about what is significant in its history and culture. How can the story that will be told at the future Museum of the Revolution of Dignity include multiple voices, to ensure that the narrative does not transform into a singular, hegemonic description of history? Working towards a non-static, inclusive exhibition, Revolutionize! will adopt a front stage / backstage structure borrowed from theater, demonstrating how revealed and hidden positions and actors are simultaneously at work in society. Depending upon your whereabouts within this structure your position constantly shifts, from being visible to not being visible, from being the observer into being the one who is surveyed, from enemy into ally, from activist to artist. After all, the theater is a place where roles are easily reversed, where nothing is what it seems, where the real and the symbolic coincide and where different times can intersect and historical narratives can continuously be retold.

Other artists of note for the ACT community who are involved include Francis Alÿs (BE), Harun Farocki (CZ), Lev Manovich (RU), and Wolfgang Tillmans (GE).


Curatorial statements:

Olesia Ostrovska-Liuta, Director General of Mystetskyi arsenal:
The ‘Revolutionize’ exhibition is an attempt to put the Ukrainian experience of protest and revolution into the world context. And to see what can we tell the world and where in the world can we find any similarities. Five years is enough time to start re-thinking our Maidan not only from the point of view of Ukrainian history, but also in a broad world dimension.

Ihor Poshyvailo, Director General of the National Museum of the Revolution of Dignity:
«The Revolution of Dignity events, that are at the same time inspiring and demotivating, joyful and tragic, understandable and hard to understand, for millions of Ukrainians have not become history yet. It takes time to figure out, to understand, to heal. But do not forget. ‘Revolutionize’ offers a contemporary art space for new reflections, rethinking, interpretations of our complex past. The artists formed the identity of Euromaidan and were its avant-garde. We hope that within the Mystetskyi arsenal walls visitors will discover unknown dimensions of the Maidan revolutionary element in a broader context, they will feel free and responsible co-authors of our history.»

Kateryna Filyuk, Exhibition Curator:
I could never imagine living in times of revolution and war in my country. Seemingly such important events belong to history and  they can be find in books. Now we are 5 years away from the Revolution of Dignity, and the war in the East is still going on. At the time when history is being created, it seems to me important to look at the Ukrainian revolution through the optics of contemporary art and try to comprehend our own experience through metaphors, generalizations, parallels with other protest movements in different parts of the world. [Of course, the Ukrainian experience is unique, however, it is also inscribed in the global context and resonates with a number of protest movements and revolutionary events that shook the world in the first decades of the twenty-first century.]

Nathanja van Dijk, Exhibition Curator:
When people in Ukraine took to the squares in 2013, I was in the midst of a research into the position and the possibilities of art in the face of a crisis driven time. The research focused on the recent rise of protest movements; hence I closely followed the events on Maidan. What I learned from working with and within the Ukrainian context in the years that followed, is that art and by extension art museums, are a crucial place to commemorate and simultaneously critically reflect on a historical moment that is unfolding in the present. This is relevant for Ukraine, but also concerns everyone who wants to question the status quo of our contemporary moment and who wants to rewrite the singular, hegemonic narratives with which we describe our present.

Learn more about Revolutionize and the Mystetskyi arsenal