A large-scale festival of visual culture will take place in Kyiv in May. Its program is going to include photography and multimedia, video art and installations, experimental cinema and media performance “Visions,” a new project from organizers of ChernihivPhotoFest, VAU-Fest, and Cultural Photography Center PhotoCULT. The main goal of the festival is to add the culture of visual art to the list of Ukrainians’ interests. The organizers intend to create a platform for the dialog between the audience and artists with the help of authentic and modern types of visual language, combine traditional and new technologies, give the festival’s guests a possibility to enrich their visual experience and become immediate participants of cultural transformations.
Starting on May 24, the festival is going to be hosted for a month at the biggest Kyiv exhibition centers: the M17 Contemporary Art Center, Lavra Gallery, Ya Gallery, Contemporary Art Center “Soviart,” Ivan Kavaleridze Museum, Pecherska Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Art, Camera Gallery, Kvartyra 57 Gallery, Museum of Dreams, Kyiv Fortress, and Art Dock.
One of the festival’s organizers Iryna RUZINA states that this event has been prepared for four years, and everything started with small exhibitions. “Then, there were Days of Photography in Chernihiv, ChernihivPhotoFest in 2010 and 2012, later, Cultural Center PhotoCULT was created, and now we aim for a large-scale project, a festival of visual culture,” Ruzina says. “We always set the bar very high, much higher than our actual abilities seemed to be. That is why all our projects were successful. Hopefully, ‘Visions’ will not be an exception.”
Photography is in the center of the festival’s art space. The photo itself serves as a core element for various multimedia projects (there will be about 20 of them): art photography, photo installations, and documentary projects. Besides Ukrainians, artists from Germany, Canada, the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Russia, and Georgia are going to present their projects at the festival. Media art is going to show the audience the amazing possibilities of visual experiments: the guests will immerse in the ocean of creative search, implemented in original artistic forms: video art and media performances. “We decided to organize the festival in a way that will let us present art, which is created with the help of various new media, but at the same time, united with a common theme. Last fall, the topic emerged: the archiving of the visual. The sphere of our interests exceeded photography from the very beginning. It includes cinematography, video art, installations, which are the essential components of visual culture,” says one of the festival organizers Anna HAIDAI.
The competition program is also added to the festival: “The City of the Future” is a photo competition, based on the theme of the city as an urbanization center of the future. “Space of Memories” is a contest of videos that are integrated into the city space (thanks to audio and visual media, usual places that preserve memories of events and casual passers-by are going to “speak out” through many layers of transparent masks of stories, thus letting the viewers see and feel various locations anew). “Memory” is a competition of multimedia projects, united by a common idea for visual implementation of time prints, interpretation of their value, and the archiving of personal and public memory. Also, themed lecture courses, master classes, meetings with authors and curators of projects, art critics, historians, culture experts, and psychoanalysts will be held during the festival. A total of more than 40 educational events and workshops for adults and children are going to be organized.
There are also going to be some traditional events: “Portfolio Review” – a venue for young artists and reputable photography specialists, and “Photography Night,” during which the best portfolios will be demonstrated in the atmosphere of informal communication.
At the moment, preparation for the festival is in full swing. By the way, sponsors are still wanted to cover the last part of expenses. We managed to ask the organizers a few questions, despite their busy schedule.
What are your personal reasons for organizing this festival?
Iryna RUZINA: “This is a good question. Creating culture product is a personal need for me. When I moved from Moscow to Kyiv in 2008, I had this feeling of cultural vacuum. I am not used to waiting for someone to settle my problems, so I started cultural activity by myself. And it turned out that there are many people eager to join me. So, a note ‘Cultured People Project’ appeared in my phone. I still keep it there. Basically, it contains everything I and my colleagues have done in the past five years. ‘Visions’ is a new stage of our work, but it is not the last one.”
Anna HAIDAI: “Besides the fact that I am interested in the idea of visual culture development in general, organizing such a large-scale event is like a huge puzzle for me, which I am very eager to put together. I want all the authors, projects, institutions, separate individuals, events to fall in their proper places and everything to work together in a harmonious and fascinating way. If we develop this metaphor further, we can imagine that the festival itself is just one piece of a bigger puzzle. A lot of new processes are going to start after the festival is over: new authors communicating with masters, invitations being sent, careers moving up… That is why I engage in this activity, for our culture to constantly develop and progress. Being in the middle of all this also gives an opportunity for self-development.”
“Visions” festival has a very intense program. What events would you advise to visit by all means?
I.R.: “It happens quite often that cultural events become ‘a meeting place for the chosen ones,’ where extremely smart people talk about very sophisticated matters, and the audience just nod, sipping their wine. This creates a false image of art as a territory that is closed for the broader audience. We want the viewers to join the art, make them active participants of what is going on, and thus integrate the global visual experience into viewers’ personal space. We are going to talk about important things – memory, and values of the time – through visual means. As for me, the exhibition of works by the German author Burkhard von Harder is going to be one of the most interesting events of the festival. He is going to present films, forgotten by people and ruined by time, that were found in the abandoned building of a former communist periodical in Vinnytsia. Also, visitors of the Kyiv Fortress are going to be surprised by the grand media program. Video installations, video art, media performances by foreign artists, photo exhibitions and exhibitions of land art objects are going to be displayed there during the first 10 days of the festival. Besides, exhibition at the Lavra Gallery is going to be the longest and most intense one. The audience will be able to see seven photo projects from Canada, Poland, Lithuania, Russia, and Ukraine there.”
A.H.: “We invite our visitors to see everything. That is why we advise Kyiv residents and guests to plan a festival vacation!”