The main programme titled “The Best of Times, The Worst of Times ... Rebirth and Apocalypse in Contemporary Art” is likely to attract most of its audience. David Elliott, the curator with Australian-Japanese-Swedish-Turkish background, killed two birds with one stone, luring those interested in politics with the quote from Charles Dickens’ novel about the French Revolution as first part of the title, and the fans of mystery who cannot wait to see the end of the world in 2012 with the second part.
Yekaterina Diogot, a Moscow-based curator of Arsenale discussion platform called Art After the End of the World, hopes that Boris Groys, Anton Vidokle, Zygmunt Bauman, Simon Sheikh and other acclaimed left-leaning intellectuals will encourage Art Arsenal visitors to see that “neo-capitalistic order is not eternal and the only possible order that cannot be protested” look at the artwork “that stifles the instinct of acquisition and wakes the instinct of explorers in humans.”
In addition to the discussion platform, Arsenale offers a programme for intellectuals. The educational part will introduce visitors to all key figures on contemporary art scene. In cooperation with Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Arsenale trained quite a few guides to navigate the public through contemporary art behind the chilly walls of the Arsenal. Similar to Euro 2012, the art space was arranged with Poland with nearly 25% of the artwork by Ukrainian artists included into the Double Play special Polish-Ukrainian project supervised by Fabio Cavallucci, the curator of Zamek Ujazdowski, a Warsaw-based contemporary art centre, and Oleksandr Soloviov, Deputy Director of the Arsenal. “This project is a unique opportunity for artists, curators and critics from both countries to meet, find some things in common, as well as outline their identities, differences and similarities,” the introduction to the project says.
It looks like participants find different motivations to visit Arsenale. “Some don’t even realize they are actually going to Ukraine,” one of the organizers says. “They don’t care about the destination. They like the message and want to respond to it. Some, such as Boris Groys, have never been to Kyiv before. And many are just interested in seeing the post-soviet Ukraine.”
Installation by Shigeo Toya
The project the Japanese artist brings to Arsenale features burnt trees that look like skyscrapers in the biggest cities of today, such as New York or Tokyo. If any catastrophe happens that kills all living creatures, these skyscrapers will one day remind relict trees and cities will turn into “forests” buried in ash.
Allegoria Sacra by AES+F
The Moscow-based group will present a video installation titled Purgatory. It is the latest part of their large triptych that portrays an airport hall inhabited by characters presenting a clash of cultures, civilizations, ethnic groups and political views.