The Ukraine Pavilion to Spotlight Neurodiverse Art and War's Role in Othering at La Biennale di Venezia

Wednesday, February 14, 2024
The Ukraine Pavilion to Spotlight Neurodiverse Art and War's Role in Othering at La Biennale di Venezia

Net Making, a group exhibition curated by Viktoria Bavykina and Max Gorbatskyi which draws from the practice of weaving of camouflage nets collectively as a metaphor for joint horizontal actions, will present Ukraine at the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. The exhibition will feature works by Katya Buchatska (in collaboration with 15 neurodivergent artists), Andrii Dostliev and Lia Dostlieva, Daniil Revkovskyi and Andrii Rachynskyi, and Oleksandr Burlaka.

"Weaving nets is a key metaphor reflecting today's Ukraine. Amid the Russian invasion, Ukrainians are uniting: volunteer to fight, rebuild destroyed houses of their neighbors, fundraise, and gather to weave camouflage nets. It is a recognition of a bottom-up joint action that benefits each other and the country," the curators comment.

The theme of the Biennale Arte 2024, Stranieri Ovunque — Foreigners Everywhere, touches upon the universal issues of otherness and the coexistence of diversity. In line with the Biennale's theme, the Ukrainian Pavilion project will address the topic of otherness through personal experiences of war, emigration, assimilation in new societies, and the transformation of language under the pressure of violence.

The Ukrainian pavilion is framed by Oleksandr Burlaka's architectural installation work, composed of woven linen fabrics from the 1950s which were found at Ukrainian flea markets and online marketplaces. The installation creates a circular space for three other art projects: the film Civilians. Invasion by Daniil Revkovskyi and Andrii Rachynskyi, the installation Best Wishes by Katya Buchatska, and the video Comfort Work by Andrii Dostliev and Lia Dostlieva.

Daniil Revkovskyi  and Andrii Rachynskyi will present the film Civilians. Invasion, which tells the story of the first days of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine through the eyes of survivors. The artists assembled the film from the videos they found using open sources and private YouTube channels. “This film is a horror encyclopedia, capturing the harrowing experiences people endure during a full-scale invasion,” the artists note. Precarious and authentic footage made by witnesses risks being lost in the flux of video content, but collected together, these films attempt to both communicate people's experiences while serving as preserved evidence of crime.

Katya Buchatska will present Best Wishes, a work she created in collaboration with neurodivergent artists. During the first week of the full-scale invasion, Buchatska resumed online classes at an inclusive art workshop in Kyiv, where artists met daily to paint and talk. “Life went on, days passed, birthdays came. We wished each other happy birthday on every occasion, and gradually, the language clichés became increasingly obtrusive and incongruous, alienated from us,” says the artist. Best Wishes is an attempt to rethink the conventions of greetings and wishes — clichés that often operate under rules of language rather than the actual needs of human communication. In her work, Buchatska explores language transformations amid life-threatening conditions, emphasising the imperative to resist violence.

Continuing the theme of clichés and otherness, Comfort Work by Andrii Dostliev and Lia Dostlieva ironically investigates the stereotypes and expectations laid upon refugees in Europe, playfully creating a safe space for Ukrainians with the experience of displacement to reclaim their agency and throw those stereotypes back in the faces of those who created them. The project involves Ukrainian communities across Europe who shaped the stereotypical representations of themselves with the help of local professional actors.

Stephanie Cime

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Image of the Day

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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