Елена Окунева
Life&Art
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UKRAINIAN CONSTRUCTIVISM: a multimedia Danish-Ukrainian project of contemporary art dedicated to the architecture of the 1920s – 1930s

UKRAINIAN CONSTRUCTIVISM: a multimedia Danish-Ukrainian project of contemporary art dedicated to the architecture of the 1920s – 1930s
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Sergei Sviatchenko. From the series Necessary Constructions in the Intervals of Forgotten Time, 2021, photomontage, collage

 

The sensational summer events around the demolition and “reconstruction” of Soviet buildings in Kiev shook the public with renewed vigor and sparked many discussions about the value of historical heritage, as well as what this heritage is and what is not.

As a rule, opinions differ precisely on the issue of the need to protect Soviet art and modernist architecture, the cultural value of which is not seen by everyone. Against the background of these disputes, important projects are born, one of which is a large-scale interdisciplinary collaboration called Ukrainian Constructivism.

The future multimedia project Ukrainian Constructivism consists of two parts. The first is a cross-sectoral international art project at the intersection of contemporary visual art, ballet, electro-folk music and historical drama. The second is a public festival program, including discussions, round tables, master classes, and a fair of initiatives[1].

The most recognizable names for us are Nata Zhizhchenko, known under the pseudonym ONUKA, and Evgeny Filatov (The Maneken), who created original music specially for this project. Evgenia Gubkina, an architecture researcher who outlined the historical context of Ukrainian constructivism, and Sergei Sviatchenko, who wrote poems for Onuka’s music; by education he is also an architect, but mainly an artist who has lived in Denmark for the last thirty years and has worked with the art of collage, photomontage, photography, video, etc.

 

UKRAINIAN CONSTRUCTIVISM: a multimedia Danish-Ukrainian project of contemporary art dedicated to the architecture of the 1920s – 1930s
From the series Necessary Constructions in the Intervals of Forgotten Time, 2021, photomontage, collage. The series was created by Sergei Sviatchenko specially for the project

 

In my art works I try to solve and raise the problem of “the dignity of the forgotten and the confirmation of the existing”, showing interbreeding with the spirit of that time, with its musical explosions and accents.

 

The flight of my inner “I”, sincerity in confession, guilt and feelings of love exist in my collages at the subconscious level, at the level of fears and solicitude, at the level of poetry. It is a form of overcoming the usual, a code of being chosen, a form of “aesthetic surprise”.

 

Sergei Sviatchenko

 

It was he who attracted the developed network of his international relations to work on the project. Some of these professionals will act together with Sviatchenko as ambassadors of the project from the Danish side.

Namely: an art historian, a curator Christian Kortegaard Madsen, a film director and a photographer Tom McKenzie, as well as a talented young choreographer, a dancer of the Royal Danish Ballet and the Danish Dance Theatre Sebastian Kloborg, who choreographed and danced a story written by Evgenia Gubkina and a historian Yaroslav Perekko.

The authors built it on real events. The plot revolves around the memories of the stay in Kharkov in the early 1930s by Lotte Beese, a young German architect from the Bauhaus.

In 2022, Ukraine and Denmark celebrate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations. In honor of this round date, the project Ukrainian Constructivism unites artists from both countries, and in their person – a variety of areas of contemporary art in the broad sense of the word. Authoritative international support is important for promoting not so much the multimedia project itself as its subject – the constructivist architecture of Ukraine.

 

UKRAINIAN CONSTRUCTIVISM: a multimedia Danish-Ukrainian project of contemporary art dedicated to the architecture of the 1920s – 1930s
Sergei Sviatchenko. From the series Necessary Сonstructions in the Intervals of Forgotten Time, 2021, photomontage, collage

 

The authors of the project, Sergei Sviatchenko and Evgenia Gubkina, are convinced: in the 1920s – 1930s, architecture and, in general, the culture of the USSR developed in step with the times, the ideas of modernism, of which, in fact, constructivism is a part, were popular both in Ukraine and in the West, in the world and in Denmark.

It is on this similarity that part of the visual and semantic content of the project is built. The team considers it unfair that in world art this fruitful interwar period is remembered as the Russian avant-garde, while Ukrainian constructivism can and should take its own place of honor in the history of world culture.

The main goal of the project is not at all entertainment through an impressive spectacle, although great attention is certainly paid to the quality of all components of the action. The team calls its mission the widespread popularization of Ukrainian constructivism both within the country and abroad.

Evgenia Gubkina, who researches Ukrainian modernism and worked on a performance script, explains why constructivist architecture deserves attention and needs protection. According to her, it was during that period that “architecture lost its decorative language and moved on to simplicity of form and unity with content”[2].

 

UKRAINIAN CONSTRUCTIVISM: a multimedia Danish-Ukrainian project of contemporary art dedicated to the architecture of the 1920s – 1930s
Sergei Sviatchenko. From the series Necessary Constructions in the Intervals of Forgotten Time”, 2021, photomontage, collage.

 

Constructivism was and remains an outstanding example of modern avant-garde art, based on a powerful ideological component, a concept that subordinates form to function. Now, both in Ukraine and around the world, many admire the ideas and objects of the Bauhaus, and they could just as well admire Ukrainian constructivism.

Through deep research and international cooperation, the organizers hope to make the architecture of Ukraine in the 1920s – 1930s visible, to “separate” it from the architecture of the same period in other countries, which is currently important for both political and cultural and historical reasons.

Moreover, in addition to the educational components of the project, the team also sets much more ambitious tasks, such as showing the project at the Venice Biennale Architecture in 2023 and publishing a book on this topic. At the same time, the authors expect “to achieve significant progress not only in the inclusion of sites in the UNESCO World Heritage List, but also in understanding the need for their restoration and conservation”.

In other words, it is important for organizers not only to create a beautiful, innovative show, but also to achieve a real, tangible result with its help. Such a non-trivial format of uniting people, countries, forms and meanings under the dome of contemporary art and architecture can become an important historical precedent both in domestic politics and in cultural diplomacy.

The multimedia action will be available from November 15, 2021 on the official website – constructivism.world.

The project is being implemented with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation and in connection with the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Danish-Ukrainian diplomatic relations.

 

Sources:

[1] Information from the official website of the project

[2] From an interview with Evgenia Gubkina to Yuri Amosov for L’Officiel

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