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Interviewing our COS grantee ‘Sorry No Rooms Available’ Back

Interviewing our COS grantee ‘Sorry No Rooms Available’

14 Aug 2023

The residency Sorry No Rooms Available (SNRA residence) is a dynamic initiative with a vision aimed at decentralizing the development of the cultural economy and contemporary art in Ukraine. Since its establishment in 2016, the residency has been situated at the Intourist-Zakarpattya hotel in the city of Uzhhorod. Its primary focus is on fostering artistic research and providing a platform for cultural exchange and exploration within the context of Uzhhorod and the broader Zakarpattya (Transcarpathian) region. The residency seeks to integrate participants into the vibrant local art scene while also positioning itself as a cultural international platform, actively engaging with European and global art processes. During their stay, residents are encouraged to embark on at least one site-specific project, allowing them to reflect on the hotel itself, its unique site, and its captivating history, thereby adding depth and significance to their artistic endeavours.

We approached Petro Ryaska, from Sorry No Rooms Available, to provide some insights into the residency.

Could you please introduce us to Transcarpathia and provide some insights into its cultural context and art scene?

The definition of the “Transcarpathian school” emerged in the 1950s, possibly as a political move or a result of exhibiting Transcarpathian artists at an all-Union exhibition. Notably, the “Transcarpathian school of landscape” gained distinction due to the relative freedom from censorship enjoyed by landscape painting during the Soviet Union era, unlike other artistic practices. However, it is important to recognize that Transcarpathian artists were not solely limited to “landscape” painting, and the so-called school of Transcarpathian landscape painting can be perceived as a politically loyal project supervised by the authorities.

The main art institutions in the region include the Adalbert Erdeli Art College and the Transcarpathian Art Academy, which traditionally focus on media like painting, sculpture, drawing, and applied arts, while newer disciplines such as modern graphic design and multimedia are also present.

Notable museums and galleries in Uzhhorod include the museum named after Y. Bokshay, the Museum of Folk Architecture and Life, the Andriy Kotska Museum, the Fedir Manailo Museum, the ZO NAUU Gallery, and the Korydor Gallery.

During the post-war period until the 2000s, the non-conformist Uzhhorod artist Pavlo Bedzir played a significant role, influencing the Pop-Trance group. Pavlo Kovach, a curator, organized posthumous exhibitions of Pavlo Bedzir, which led to the establishment of the Korydor gallery. In the 1990s, experimental artists like Pavlo Kovach and Gabriel Buleca, along with the “Pop-Trance” group, played a pivotal role in the region’s art scene. In the 2000s, the Korydor gallery, AM Rotonda, and various art festivals further enriched the artistic landscape. However, the onset of war in 2014 and the subsequent situation with space rentals brought significant changes to the art scene in Uzhhorod.

In 2016, the SNRA residence was established. After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the SNRA residency continues to be an artistic initiative, as it has been since the beginning, but it is increasingly turning into an organisation with different responsibilities. It is no longer limited to the creation of purely artistic values. An artistic initiative needs an infusion of material resources.

At some point, I realised that when I organise residencies, it also fulfils me as an artist; as I do various kinds of research and at least document things. Although at first, it may seem something peripheral or ephemeral, at a certain moment, the residence became something non-peripheral: over time it became an integral part of the culture; part of a wider ecosystem that influences artists from Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv…

Photo by Petro Ryaska, courtesy of Sorry No Rooms Available

What are some of the past and present notable events, activities, productions of the residency?

Thanks to the support of the COS ECF fund, the activity of the SNRA residence was significantly active on the cultural map of Ukraine, particularly in 2022, and it continues its activity in 2023. Like many other artistic and cultural organisations in Ukraine, which can be regarded as “places/points of invincibility” during the Russo-Ukrainian war, the SNRA residence serves as an active cultural centre. The necessary steps for the cultural development and advancement of Ukrainian art have taken place and are ongoing, with increased visibility physically and especially on social networks, promoting professional interregional, national, and international cultural communication. During the period of COS support, the SNRA residence hosted and continues to host professional artist-participants from various generations in regions severely affected by Russian bombings, including Kherson, Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Melitopol, Energodar, Zaporizhzhia, Odessa, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Khmelnytskyi, Lviv, and Poltava.

Notable events included the “Kinarmia” lecture hall, the performance project “Double Horizon” held at different venues, the “NEVERLAND” digital art performance, and the project “Mamonya.” An artistic and curatorial exhibition titled “Border” showcased works from SNRA residency participants. Researchers and curators presented presentations and projects focusing on the art of resistance, urban public space, and institutional-critical research. Lectures on self-organized practices and artistic practices were also part of the program. Performative presentations and exhibitions in Perechyn, lectures on subjective exploration of space, and screenings of directorial films enriched the artistic experience. The Double Room space witnessed the exhibition “Evolution as a method of cognition” and the participatory action. Practical workshops culminated in a group exhibition called “There was a story there,” featuring diverse participants from the workshops.

In 2023, artistic discussions and presentations with KAR participants, Oleg Perkovsky, Maria Lanko, Sergey Dyachenko, and Yulia Manukyan, are planned for July to August. A report and group exhibition of the participants are scheduled at the end of August.

Alina Yakubenko - The Adventure of a Russian soldier, courtesy of Sorry No Rooms Available

What does ‘a culture of solidarity’ mean to you?

‘A culture of solidarity’ signifies the embodiment of democratic values, freedom of choice, and a strong sense of public consciousness among Ukrainians. The active participation and solidarity exhibited during challenging times have been crucial for Ukrainian society, and the support from the European Culture of Solidarity has played a significant role. Through our vibrant cultural and artistic activities, we strive to raise awareness about modern culture and art in Ukraine. The support from COS has been instrumental in fostering professional artistic endeavours within the SNRA residency and among its participants.


Granted: 30.000 euros

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