Visual Dispositif - Social Dispositif is part of the collaborative project Art/Knowledge/Politics which joins politically engaged artists, critical academics and activists at the platform of Visual Culture Research Center as a research institution of National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. The project was launched in April 2010 at the conference under the same title, which studied visualizations of power relations in different social practices and their critical analysis in art and moving image.
The next part of the project includes an exhibition Court Experiment, which documents court prosecution of activists that takes place in Ukraine today. A series of public discussions, seminars and lectures will be held during the exhibition, addressing the questions of relation between art and politics and the strategies of critical artistic intervention in social and political processes in the context of the issues that are addressed by the exhibition Court Experiment as well as general questions of political art and experimental cinema. As part of research program of the Center an academic conference Cinematic dispositif: Moving image in Social Context will discuss the film as medium and social practice mobilizing critical methodology of Marxism, psychoanalysis, semiotics, semiology, phenomenology, feminism, and postcolonialism
(12 October – 12 November 2010, Kyiv)
Court Experiment is a statement against the court prosecutions of Ukrainian activists for the expression of disagreement with existing injustice, it is an action of solidarity with accused Yevgenia Belorusets, Andriy Movchan, Serhiy Movchan and Olexandr Wolodarsky, who’s trails are going on for years. The project started from the visits to the court sessions by people who wanted to express their support for the accused activists. Among them were activists, journalists, academics and artists.
Court Experiment is an attempt to attract a public attention both to these concrete cases of prosecution and generally to the judicial system, which, being built in the capitalist economy, is an instrument of violence and injustice. The second important goal of the exhibition is to reveal the real matters, against which the activists protested – the destructive expansion of capital in social sphere, the increasing of moral censorship as an authoritarian symptom – framing them in a wider context of political, cultural, and social circumstances inherent in post-Soviet society.
The exhibition consists of the author’s works and the documentation of the court processes, which is made collectively. Only documentary materials are presented at the opening, afterwards the space is gradually filled with artists’ individual works. The process of filling in the space is accompanied by the discussions, screenings, performances and seminars. Court Experiment is an installation-in-process, which by imitating cyclic unfolding of the trails against the activists, addresses the subjects of political actions within the field of articulation between art, knowledge, and politics.
The exhibition presents the works by Yevgeniya Belorusets, David Chichkan, Ksenia Hnylytska, Nikita Kadan, Yulia Kostereva, Yuriy Kruchak, Vasyl Lozynskyy, Lada Nakonechna, Mykola Ridniy, Oleksiy Salmanov, Oleksandr Wolodarsky, and Anna Zvyagintseva. The court drawings, photos and installation of documentary material by Anatoliy Belov, Yevgeniya Belorusets, Oleksandr Burlaka, Nikita Kadan, Dmytro Myronchuk, Viktor Wolodarsky, and Anna Zvyagintseva. The exhibition is organized by curatorial union Hudrada.
Stills from video of Lada Nakonechna
Stills from video of Yevgeniya Belorusets
The opening of a photographic exhibition “32, Gogol Street” in Kyiv
The exhibition will last from November 26 until December 22 in the framework of the
project “Court experiment”
organized by the Visual Culture Research Centre in Kiev in cooperation with curatorial association HUDRADA and supported by transit.at and Erste Stiftung.
It is dedicated to everyday life of residents of a dilapidated house in the historic center of Kyiv, and received a prestigious award of the Royal photographic society and “The Guardian” in September this year.
Photographer Yevgenia Belorusets spent more than three years taking photographs in this house and interviewing its residents, to capture their everyday life, their chores and recreation, interior of their dwellings. The project is complemented by sociological research conducted by Anastasiya Ryabchuk. Its goal is to draw public attention to the situation with residents of the house on 32, Gogol Street as well as of similar houses in Ukraine and to support residents in their struggle for decent living conditions.
In the historic centre of Kyiv - on 32, Gogol Street – there is a run-down house where people are forced to live for more than two decades even though it was declared by the city authorities as “unfit for living”. The house is too worn out to be reconstructed and must be torn down. In such a situation, according to the Ukrainian housing code, residents should be evacuated and given flats of equivalent size in other buildings within the city limits. This is just one of the numerous cases of violation of a basic human right to housing and adequate living conditions. Some of the people managed to leave the house, but those who do not have any financial means to find housing elsewhere remain. They regularly write letters to city authorities, initiate court trials and protest events, but their demands for decent housing remain unanswered.
All communal services (electricity, water, gas, heating) in the house are out of order, ceilings, floors and walls are cracked and rotten and may fall apart any moment, several families live in communal flats in conditions of overcrowding. These images and interview extracts may also be used as an illustration of inadequate living conditions of millions of other post-soviet citizens. In Ukraine over 40% of the population has to survive the cold without any centralized heating and one in ten was living with room temperature below appropriate level, 23% with frequent absence of electricity, 16% without tap water (almost half without hot water), with cracks in the walls and leaking ceilings (over 16%), one in ten shares a room with two or more other people. In Kyiv alone as of 2006 there were more than one hundred apartment buildings that were officially declared “unfit for living”, but were still inhabited.
Living in dilapidated housing means that even most basic chores are often a challenge: a shower is taken quickly with fear that water will be turned off any moment, water for laundry must be heated in pails on a stove. After a woman was injured by pieces of ceiling falling on her when she was sleeping, residents built hand-made “roofs” over their beds and put poles to hold up the ceiling in places where it risks falling. The main heroine of the photographic project died from dire housing conditions. Other residents are still hoping for change.
Yevgenia Belorusets is a photographer, translator, activist and editor of a literary web-site ПРОSTORY (www.prostory.net.ua).
Anastasiya Ryabchuk is a sociologist, lecturer of the University “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” and editor of the journal of social critique “Спільне/Commons” (http://commons.com.ua).