Voices of Ukraine
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
Gogolfest is a multidisciplinary contemporary art festival held annually in Kyiv since 2007. Named after Ukrainian-born writer Nikolai Gogol, an eccentric novelist and playwright, the festival embraces the unusual and encourages Ukraine’s artists to push the limits of modern expression. It is one of the city’s most interesting events.
The festival features all genres of art including theatre, cinema, music, literature, dance, and the visual arts.
Performers have said this year’s event is especially important for the country’s cultural scene because it allows artists to shine the spotlight on Ukraine and the tragedy unfolding in its eastern regions.
Each year, it is held at an abandoned industrial complex to the south of city-centre, an expansive industrial space that fills with artists and performers from across Ukraine. They gather for a 10-day (September 11-21st) event to show off the country’s weird and wild cultural scene. But months of political upheaval that rocked Ukraine earlier this year, and the Russian occupation of Crimea and invasion of the east, made organizers think twice about holding the festival this year. However, organizers agreed that: “Ukraine’s artists have a responsibility to try to drive the country’s cultural growth despite the violence and political instability.”
Jerzy Konopie: Soldiers at Gogolfest ’14
Street artist Jerzy Konopie continues to be sensitive in combining the signs, symbols and spaces of his environs to provoke interior associations and significations in passersby, as well as asking them to examine their interpretations and personal relevance. At a time when part of Ukraine is gripped by invasion and war, his minimal and direct work Soldiers seems to speak to an, in turns melancholy and prevailingly eternal, human condition, admitting it’s own vulnerability and strength, endurance and constant impermanence.
In his work for Gogolfest ’14, Jerzy writes on his blog:
Reinforced concrete – solid, reliable, indestructible … But just as fragile, unstable to strong loads and erosion. The fence protects against external threats … and at the same time isolates and enslaves those inside. Green – the color of calm, peace and life … and at the same green is what they paint tanks, missiles and other military equipment.
Some will see here a Hero of Ukraine, while others – “little green men” terrorists and separatists. You would be right on both counts. And in dozens of other cases that do not even occur to you.
In these symbolic soldiers there is no sign of belonging to any army or armed groups. They are all the same. Almost completely identical. The only distinguishing feature – circles that are sometimes broken and sometimes nonexistent.
The installation Soldiers is presented at the International Festival of Contemporary Art GOGOLFEST, as part of the project “Space Capabilities,” curated by Darya Koltsova.
Read a previous interview with Jerzy on Maidan: here.
Source: Jerzy Konopie Live Journal