Maidan as a barricade between two worldviews and civilizations: international art project “Identity. Behind the curtain of uncertainty”


Kyiv, February 18, 2016. An international art project “Identity. Behind the curtain of uncertainty” will open in Kyiv. The idea of such a project was born at Maidan. “Two years following the events at Maidan, these events and this unique phenomenon must not be regarded in the context of the fact that something is wrong at present. We must interpret it as a barricade of two worldviews or two civilizations,” said Yevhen Nyshchuk, an actor and the so called “voice of Maidan”, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. On one side of the barricade there were people without clearly defined identity, who were ready to act on order, not thinking that there were humans in front of them, while on the other side there were those with objectives and desire to see, understand and save something, and they were worlds apart, said the public person. “There are those men we call the Heavenly Hundred who died back then, giving up their lives for European human values. These values are set in European declarations, and people died for them in Ukraine. We have to treat it not as a sacrifice, but as the mission and great contribution in the change of the society,” said Nyshchuk. Now it’s important to speak of this phenomenon in language of art.

The National Art Museum of Ukraine was beyond the picket line during the Revolution of Dignity. It was cut off from its audience and people in general, recollects Maryna Skyrda, deputy general director on scientific & educational activities of the National Museum. When people started burning tyres, a question of responsibility for the safety of the museum arose. The museum administration could not rely on the support of authorities, so they decided to spend a night there. “This single night turned into six weeks of living in the museum premises,” said Skyrda. Museum workers cannot stay on the sidelines of interpretation of those events at present.

Olena Honcharuk, public relations specialist, believes that honouring those events requires much tact. “It’s been only two years since our society started learning to experience grief together. Positive sense is needed to move forward. Society can be expressing their respect towards the people who died every day by working and committing to this huge project and the idea the Heavenly Hundred sacrificed their lives for. If it were not for them, the country wouldn’t change, I believe,” said Honcharuk.

The events of the winter 2013-2014 got reflected in the project “Identity. Behind the curtain of uncertainty”. The idea of such a project was born even before the revolution. It was initiated by the embassies of Latvia, North European and the Baltic states, and was intended to become a joint modern art project, comprising artistic works from Baltic countries, Scandinavia and Ukraine. “The project was developing. Now it charged from a presentation into a story with certain social implication and the theme which is really important for Ukraine which is in search of identity […]; at the same time, it is pressing for Baltic and Scandinavian countries, as they are situated on north-eastern border of Europe. They face the challenge of existing on the verge – between Russia from one side, Europe from another side and contradictions in between,” explained Honcharuk.

Events within the framework of the project will take place from March 18 to May 21 in the National Art Museum. It is anticipated to be not only an exhibition, but a space for open and free communication. The invited artists will use modern language to speak of various aspects of identity: national, political, territorial and gender, said Yulia Vaganova, deputy general director on exhibitions of the National Art Museum of Ukraine. The project will include a number of discussions, master classes and other educational events. “When people come out to the barricades, they don’t do it for fun, they search their individual self. They are looking for their identity and try to answer a question “who are we” “where are we from” and “where are we going”. I believe this is the driving force and these are the questions the museum is asking itself,” said Vaganova. Artists are the “miners”, indicators and instruments helping to find the answers to these questions. Deputy director of the National Art Museum believes that it is important for people not only to see exhibitions in museums, but also communicate, ask questions and get answers. “Art possesses the immense power of to heal wounds and cure soul. People go to museums in search of answers,” summarized Vaganova.