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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert


Museum of Contemporary Art and Art Association Doroshenko & Hryshchenko Clinic present art project dedicated to autism and neurodiversity
14 April, 2011 - 00:00
Artist Olha Pylnyk explains the origins of the name of her Chinvasion: “It is a portmanteau of two words: the ‘chin’ stands for China and the ‘invasion’... well, for invasion. I wanted to show the modern society and how it oppresses the human being, since it is this pressure that makes autism more and more widespread, as the person is just trying to hide inside him- or herself” / Photo by Kostiantyn HRYSHYN, The Day

The exhibition includes works by 24 contemporary artists from various countries, including Nazar Bilyk, Marcia Smilack, Anna Shabunina, Igor Konovalov, Seth Chwast, Deborah Jill, Michael Madore, and Casey Metcalf.

The Art Association Doroshenko & Hryshchenko Clinic initiated the international project AUT, now held for a second time. The first exhibition in the framework of this project was held last April and included paintings, installations, photographs, graphics, and video art where artists demonstrated the unique world of autistic people. Such a demonstration is the primary goal of the project organizers.

“In our project, AUT (or OUT) is not the same as autism, it rather means going beyond conventions, and since art is a medicine for society, it is important for this idea to live and to be realized,” co-founder of the NGO Doroshenko & Hryshchenko Clinic Oksana Hryshchenko says with conviction.

It is also important to draw public attention to the problem of autism. It is well known that the UN declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day as long ago as 2008, while in post-Soviet countries the problem continues to remain outside the legally-regulated space. Until recently, autism was not even diagnosed in Ukraine. However, the problem of autism is actually quite ambiguous.

This year’s project curator, a doctor by profession, Koan Jeff Baysa from New York writes in his review of the project AUT-2011: Neurodiversity: “There are those who ascribe to autism such pathologies and disorders which create significant inconveniences for healthy individuals. The opposite view is expressed by neurodiversity supporters, who say there are no autistic disorders, but rather autistic persons have a different type of organization, which means they understand and perceive the world differently. They do not want to be treated, they want to be understood.” Baysa believes that “untypical or slightly different neurodevelopment is a normal human variation, which should be recognized and accepted as a common phenomenon at the level of biological and cultural diversity.”

The AUT project is a step toward such recognition; it shows a different type of perception of the world associated with a particular way of processing information, including language, sounds, images, light, texture, and taste, and which is embodied in art works.

Among the most impressive exhibits of this year’s event, there are snapshots that capture the reflections of light on water. Their author Marcia Smilack is called “the synesthetic photographer” by some.

“In fact, my works have no major message. I just notice things that other people ignore,” Marcia says. “Reflections of light on the water, like dreams, never repeat themselves, but the ca-mera can capture them. I do not know if I could create ‘normal’ photographs. I have several of these, but the photographs on display, even if they show landscapes or something like that, are still an embodiment of my emotions.

I make a shot when I feel some inner impulse. There is no special method to create such pictures, I do not manipulate water. The real challenge for me is to capture what nature offers only for a few seconds.”

The AUT project will be exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art until May 7, 2011.