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Leigh Ledare at Kyiv Biennial 2015, School of Kyiv

Kicking off in Ukraine in September 2015, “The School of Kyiv” will take place in a variety of settings in the city of Kyiv. The international biennial project unites the efforts of artists, intellectuals, social initiatives and institutions in Ukraine, Europe and beyond. The biennial aims at creating a public space of reflection, breaking down barriers, and building bridges in the time of warfare.

“The School of Kyiv” incorporates exhibitions and performances, film, multimedia experiments and broadcasts, and integrates permanent and open situations for learning and research. Beyond this, in cooperating with local and international institutions the biennial will create new structures and catalyse knowledge transfer outside of Kyiv. One of its main goals is to keep channels of artistic and intellectual exchange open.

The work, presentation and communication on “The School of Kyiv” revolve around a number of thematic exhibition essays and research projects: historic and contemporary works by individual artists, or historical situations that will map a system of forms, ideas and references. The main focus of the project is on the still-underexposed global cultural influence of Ukrainian avant-gardes of the last century, and on highlighting their transcultural and international character. Along with that, the biennial will showcase artworks that do not at all reflect on the current day, but rather offer moments of poetic reverie and contemplation.

Under present political conditions in Ukraine, after the revolution of Maidan and when the country is at war, the political potential of art is needed today more than ever before. The fundamental role of art as a reflexive instrument is to challenge the present political context defined by the armed conflict in Ukraine.

The biennial is an open project aimed at creating a public framework, a space where society will be able to reflect on its threatened conditions by means of art and knowledge.

Hedwig Saxenhuber & Georg Schöllhammer