Biennial Contemporary art News Ukraine

Kiev Biennial confirms second edition

But organisers remain tight-lipped over earlier questions of censorship

Kiev's Mystetskyi Arsenal

Plans have been announced for the second Kiev biennial, which is due to be held again at the Mystetskyi Arsenal, a vast former weaponry store in the centre of the city. The Austrian curators Georg Schöllhammer and Hedwig Saxenhuber will organise the exhibition which is scheduled to open in September. An artist list is due to be announced later this year. The inaugural biennial in 2012, organised by the British-born curator David Elliott, included works by the Chapman Brothers and the German artist Lutz Becker. Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovych has, meanwhile, begun talks to resolve the political crisis that has resulted in violent protests across the capital.

The Ukrainian artist Volodymyr Kuznetsov has expressed concerns about the forthcoming biennial, however. One of his works, which was due to go on display in the exhibition “Great and Grand” at the Mystetskyi Arsenal complex last July, was covered in black paint by the venue’s director, Natalia Zabolotna, he says (The Art Newspaper, July 2013). On the issue of possible censorship at the second biennial, Kuznetsov says: “Maybe it will depend on who gives money to the Mystetskyi Arsenal complex. There was censorship with the ‘Great and Grand’ exhibition because it was supported by the church and the President.”

Representatives at the Mystetskyi Arsenal declined to comment for this article, but a spokeswoman had previously said that “the insinuation that Zabolotna only ‘allows’ art that does not criticise is simply incorrect”.

Kuznetsov’s large-scale mural Koliivschina: Judgment Day depicts Irina Krashkova, a 29-year-old from the southern Ukrainian town of Vradiyevka, who says she was subjected to a violent attack by two local police officers last year. The work also shows a nuclear reactor holding “the elements of a classic scene of the [Last] Judgment: nobles, priests, rich fuckers and servants of power, the police and judges. There are also doctors who treat terminally ill patients and only operate on them for the sake of monetary gain,” Kuznetsov says.

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