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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

What can you see in the “Windows”?

An ambitious ethno-project, presenting expositions of three museums, is underway at the Mystetsky Arsenal
16 February, 2015 - 18:27

This project is dedicated to Ukrainian folk culture. Three Ukrainian museums are taking part in the exhibit. One part of the exposition is a photo exhibit created by ethnographer Petro Honchar who made photos of Ukrainian houses from various corners of the country. Another one includes nearly a hundred of unique Ukrainian costumes from the leading museum collections.

One hundred lay figures in traditional Ukrainian attire open the “Windows” at the Mystetsky Arsenal, reportedly by radiosvoboda.org. The costumes that are part of the collections of the Honchar Museum, the Museum of People’s Architecture and Folkways, and the Museum of Ukrainian Decorative Art have been for the first time taken out of the showcases and united in a single exposition. The exhibit shows the ethnic clothing dated 19th-20th centuries from various regions of Ukraine. Above all, it is women’s festive clothing, in particular, the unique samples of Ukrainian embroidery, according to the research fellow of the funds of the Museum of Architecture and Folkways Oksana Hordiiets.

The second part of the exhibit is the photo project by ethnographer and artist Petro Honchar. During his travels across Ukraine he collected photos of windows in villages. The exhibit presents even parts of some window frames. Honchar says that this is only a part of a greater work dedicated to the changes in traditional culture which gradually disappears together with the village.

“I wanted to capture this transition somehow. A window is a border between the worlds. Windows have sacral meaning in traditional culture. They were best decorated in folk culture because of their divine meaning: light went through them, people prayed to windows like to the sun,” Honchar says.

Olha Melnyk, one of the curators of the exhibit, says that she is gratified that the visitors have “read” the exhibit. “I was afraid that museum employees would come and ask why we are exhibiting freely or why we have so many costumes. But everyone understood that these windows are windows to Ukraine. Peeping through them into the past, we see the future. This is the initial purpose of this project – for every visitor to feel themselves a part of this nation which is experiencing hard times these days,” the curator says.

An educational program will be functioning within the framework of the “Windows.” It will be dedicated to Ukrainian folk traditions. The project will be underway at the Mystetsky Arsenal till March 1.

“At the Mystetsky Arsenal (within the framework of the exhibit “Windows”) I was impressed the most by the photo project created by Petro Honchar,” the well-known singer Maria Burmaka told The Day. “On the one hand, I recognized the windows from my childhood (though I was born in Kharkiv, I spent my childhood in Pryluky, Chernihiv oblast, visiting my Grandma Maria, my mother’s mom). Therefore the windows with the shutters from that region are dear to my heart. I found them right away. I also have seen a choir of old women from the Bobrovytsia raion, the same Chernihiv region, talked to them, and as if from my childhood heard the soft sound ‘l’ and somewhat nasal sound ‘a.’ This recognition filled me with joy. On the other hand, the windows from the regions where there is war now are present at the exhibit, and many people don’t know what their further destiny will be, as well the life of our country afterwards. And who is going to make photos of the old windows, even in case they are preserved? This is a mixture of pain and sadness. I think as well about what these people went through, what they were thinking when they were looking through these windows.”

By Tetiana POLISHCHUK, The Day