Art, culture and war. An overview of hot questions and quick answers
8 Mar 2022
Hot Question 1: How to support the evacuation of artwork during the war?
From the first day of the war, the team of the Frankivsk Gallery “Asortymentna kimnata” launched a program to evacuate and preserve works of art – primarily from the grassroots self-organized spaces and workshops of artists who are forced to leave their cities. After all, such works are often the most vulnerable to lose during crisis situations, because they are not documented in the funds and do not have structured storage space. During the first 10 days of the active phase of the war, Asortymentna kimnata has received 17 requests for evacuation support from Kyiv, Mariupol, Odesa, and Zaporizhia. The gallery team sent a total of 20 series of works to a few shelters. The locations of the shelters are not disclosed.
Unfortunately, we can’t provide help to everyone (for example, the evacuation from Mariupol did not take place), but a small team of the Asortymentna kimnata is trying to do everything possible and is currently working on a systematic solution to evacuate works of art from Kyiv. The art evacuation program is implemented at the expense of the Asortymentna kimnata, with the organizational support of the proto produkciia agency and the financial support of German colleagues from the MitOst association.
“During wartime, we need to be even more disciplined to do what we can and what we were created for. Asortymentna kimnata was created to support local art, and now we have to not just support it but to preserve it,” says Anya Potyomkina, curator of the gallery.
“Yes, human lives are most important, so the evacuation of people is a top priority. At the same time, we care that we do not lose visual art objects either in the rear or near the front line. After all, this war is also, of course, a war of cultures, ”said Alyona Karavai, one of the co-founders of the Asortymentna kimnata.
If you as an artist or your self-organized art space need support in evacuating works, register here. If you are ready to support this program and donate to transport and delivery of works, let us know here.
Hot Question 2: How to support museums that are at the centre of hostilities?
Olga Honchar, the cultural manager and director of the Lviv Territory of Terror Museum, organized the Museum Crisis Fund “Ambulance Museum” for a few days. In less than a day, nearly 20 museums in four regions have received financial support for packaging, preservation of exhibits, and support from local teams in difficulty. First of all, priority was given to museums from small towns and villages in the East and South of Ukraine, which were at the epicentre of Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Financial support was made possible by the European Commission (within the “Be Strong” project implemented by Insha Osvita), as well as private support from PinchukArtCenter and a number of private patrons. The museum crisis fund will continue to develop and has already enlisted the support of the German association MitOst.
“Through our own channels, we monitored needs and received direct requests from colleagues. These were basic needs mostly (food or medicine). We assumed that we first support people and teams so that there is someone to protect the local heritage. But we are already working on more systematic formats of support and we understand that the work of the Museum Crisis Fund is not for a day, but for a month, ”says Olga Honchar.
For questions about the Museum Crisis Fund, please contact Olga Gonchar (email@example.com). If you need financial and organizational support to preserve your cultural heritage from Russian aggression, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hot Question 3: What artistic practice during the war makes sense?
Also, Asortymentna kimnata together with the artist and curator from Kyiv Lesya Khomenko launches the art laboratory “Working Room”. So far, artists Sasha Kurmaz, Kateryna Aleinik and Taira Umarova have joined the laboratory. The rest of the artists will join later.
The idea of the initiative is to create a quick format of residency / working laboratory for displaced artists on the basis of the Asortymentna kimnata. Topics that artists will work on are related to Russia’s war against Ukraine. The art group will work on a number of questions: for example, how is our perception of the human body changing? How does dehumanization work in the context of war and does dehumanization always come with a negative sign?
Another goal of the residence is to create new material objects that can testify here and in foreign institutions. Some artists who have been abroad also try to create visual images, but many of them express the position of the victim. Instead, we assume that artists who are currently in Ukraine may not share this position. As part of the working laboratory, we strive to record the reflections that arise in those who remained in Ukraine.
“In a time of physical destruction, we will physically create. Culture and art are important at all times, I have already tested this during the Revolution of Dignity. This is not a matter of first necessity, it has nothing to do with survival, but at the diplomatic and geopolitical level it is very important. We use all our symbolic capital here, which we have as public figures, ”says Lesia Khomenko.
The laboratory is implemented with the support of private individuals from abroad – colleagues and friends of Lesya Khomenko, thanks to which Lesya was able to create a fund for the laboratory. Organizationally, the laboratory is supported by the Asortymentna kimnata, the production of individual works of art will take place on the basis of the Frankivsk Drama Theater. The Working Room Laboratory is not seeking additional funding.