Why hold a Biennial in Kyiv in times of a warfare (with Russia), economic crisis, social insecurity, amidst all the complicated geopolitical constellations Ukrainian citizens find themselves trapped in, a moment that seemingly has other priorities? How could or should, in the given context, art propose its own strategy deriving from its own logic? Shouldn’t art be, in this case, subjugated to the political struggle?
It was questions like these we found ourselves confronted with when all began anew in the late days of March 2015 with a cancellation. Kyiv’s largest public art and event venue had withdrawn as an organizer of the 2nd Kyiv Biennale. Yet we, the curators, encouraged by our artists and intellectual friends, together with our team and our collaborators from the Visual Culture Research Centre decided to go ahead with the Biennial independently and autonomously.
For us, the situation of crisis, aporia, of historicity, of apparent entrapment seemed to harbour a moment of utopia that could be triggered: artistic imaginations of a political subject that refer to forms and formats that go beyond the genre of short-lived artistic agitation. In the title of the Biennial we recalled the didactic experiments of Kazimir Malevich and Oleksandra Exter in Ukraine to signal that The School of Kyiv imagined proposing alternative pictures of the history and currents and other imagined futures for the place. In this way, we hoped, the agora we set up could help to suspend the opposition between aesthetics and politics, between the politics of memory and remembering, between the real and the imaginary, oscillating between even antagonistic realms.
By reflecting upon the conditions of curating within this complex situation the presentation of The School of Kyiv aims at reconsidering the notion of „the uses of art“.