“TO CLOSE AND ARCHIVE!” – Protest Action at the Visual Culture Research Center of NaUKMA in Kyiv, Ukraine
via the VCRC (Visual Culture Research Center) at NaUKMA in Kyiv, Ukraine:
On Monday, March 26th at 2 p.m. on Kontraktova square, there will be a performance action near the Skovoroda monument, dedicated to the closing of the galleries at the Old Academic building of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, where the Visual Culture Research Center has been working since 2008. Artists and activists of the Center will meet at the Skovoroda monument to announce their protest against the sudden cessation of the VCRC programs that were planned on the premises of the Old Academic building.
An exhibition of the photographer Yevgenia Byelorusets entitled “One’s Own Room” was planned to open on the 20th of March, after which the next VCRC exhibition projects were to take place. An architectural model of the exhibition will be presented at the Monday action. Also members of the interdisciplinary curators association Hudrada will deliver statements on the labour rights of artists.
On Monday, the 12th of March, the President of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Serhiy Kvit made a resolution to close down the galleries of the NaUKMA Old Academic building. The resolution affected the exhibition “One’s Own Room” by Yevgenia Byelorysets, an exhibition of photography and texts, dedicated to Ukrainian queer families, created in collaboration with the curator Nataliya Tchermalykh. A number of discussions and seminars were planned by VCRC scholars and activists to accompany this exhibition.
The artists and the direction of the Center hoped until the last moment that the exhibition and the rest of the events that were planned, including an international conference which would have started on March 26th, would take place in the building that nonetheless remained closed. Unfortunately, the letters of solidarity from abroad and numerous requests from NaUKMA academics proved unable to change the course of events. Rector Serhiy Kvit’s explained his reasoning for refusing to re-open the VCRC in a recent conversation with the curator (Nataliya Tchermalykh), telling her that “he knows this artist very well – she has already exhibited enough at the Visual Culture Research Center for this year.”
The events that preceded this decision were the closing down of the exhibition Ukrainian Body on February 10th by Serhiy Kvit, who accused the artists and VCRC activists of pornography propaganda. Kvit and the NaUKMA administration also disregarded the letters of support for the exhibition and the Center sent by international scholars, curators and artists such as Slavoj Žižek, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, Artur Żmijewski and many more.
The galleries at the Old Academic building played an essential role in the development of contemporary art in Kyiv since 1995. Here Andy Warhol, Illya Kabakov, Joseph Kosuth exhibitions took place in Ukraine for the first time. The artistic biographies of many Ukrainian artists have also begun in this gallery where, the Center for Contemporary Art existed before the Visual Culture Research Center.