Music program by Next Sound FestivalBook Arsenal

Music program by Next Sound Festival

Curated by Andriy Kyrychenko

Next Sound is a festival working since 2013 to promote the development of diverse digital art in combination with progressive and experimental music, and deliver a profound transformation in the way the audience perceives Ukrainian and international music scenes. The emergence of Next Sound as a special phenomenon in the cultural formation of today’s Ukraine was provoked by the overflow of pop in the media space, and the need to remind people of the freedom of thought and freedom of choice. Next Sound does not position itself as a marginal or elitist event. It is rather a way to feel music, with cliches dropped and new astonishing experience discovered.

We appreciate the opportunity to deconstruct the image of the audial world by questioning our assumptions on what music is and what it should be. As this year’s Book Arsenal focuses on the future and the way people see it, on technology and the ways in which societies integrate with it, we discuss the idea of just one of the possible scenarios for the development of music, or — more precisely — of music creativity. The first development that can be predicted is maximum involvement of all sensory organs. We will not simply use audio-visual concerts to get a full presence effect. The artist will be able to transmit tactile sensation, fragrances, feeling cold or warm, and others, and to play with them.

The second development will be the interactive nature of a piece of art. It will include the ability of the audience to control any given movement in that piece of art, as well as some adjustability of it to the current emotional state of the person. It will read emotions on one’s face, his or her posture and body type, and analyze any Big Data details the person will be willing to share with the piece of art which will in fact be able to qualify as an individual being more than it can now.

The natural urge to get new experiences is already generating a narrative of high-tech development that embraces all innovations from the minute they appear. Soon enough, the art scene may see a clash for superiority between humans and AI. But isn’t it amazing to be on this verge of the progressive search?

The gradual widening of the limits of self-understanding by reflecting them in technological algorithms will allow us to delve into the gates of the future, to find new answers and to reflect on the interpretation of the beautiful — music being one of the most perfect forms of the beautiful.

The festival guests include Gangpol and Mit (FR) — a music and graphic duet that generates a cartoon world inhabited by noisy geometrical creatures. An audiovisual bestiary that evolves in wonder lands where, behind the aspect of a technicolor frenzy and of DIY entertainment, an absurd and apocalyptic dimension often appears. For more than fifteen years now, G&M have launched or contributed to numerous multimedia projects, including their own virtual band’s live performances (The 1000 People band), interactive wooden sculptures (La Boîte), audiovisual concerts for adults (Kuala Lumpen French Institute), or children (Carton Park), or web-radio for children (Radio Minus), driven by a certain ability to address any kind of audience. Involved on both local and international level, the band has been touring its AV live show in many countries all over Europe, Asia, South America and beyond.

The French-German trio Dictaphone will surprise the audience with its mesmerizingly cool jazz slow motion beats, analog notes, hypnotic rhythms and refined electronics, impressing  through constant improvement in every performance literally in front of the audience. Over the two decades of its existence, Dictaphone has played in over 20 countries and festivals such as Mutek, Transmediale, Unsound, Benicassim and others.

Another guest, Stefan Juster (Jung An Tagen (AT)), will speak to the audience with fairly abstract electronic music, a mix of purist club sounds with the rapidly nearing future. In his performances, the artist is closely linked to specific visual grammar and works with video art, among other things, even if his performances are mostly about sound. In the past, Stefan Juster mostly performed with various bands and personal monikers at labels, such as NotNotFun, Blackest Rainbow, 100% Silk, or at his own SF Broadcasts. Jung An Tagen helps feel energy illusion loops with countless exciting impulses and fractal patterns. It’s a sort of minimalistic rabbit hole that sprinkles the energy of dance. It’s what captivates the spirit.

The array of sounds in the program will be complemented by Ukraine’s own avant-garde performers whose presence will enhance full integration of mental codes, the merger of tastes and the most open exchange in the audience. Next Sound residents are ready to show the rapid evolution of music environment in Ukraine.

The Tramontane Kingdom: Poetic Books that will Appear Tomorrow

Our country is in constant expectation: regarding to the literature, it is a dream of the Nobel Prize, a great novel, but what is more important, it is determination of the specific path of development. The curatorial poetry program is an attempt to reveal these expectations, take a look into the near future and delineate the tendencies of Ukrainian poetry. New unpublished poetry collections by authors from different generations are a separate kingdom. The Ukrainian poetry has always been diverse, but now authors are at the opposite poles of poetics, they feel the need of associations, collective readings less and less. Eventually, each poet creates his or her own language and kingdom of language. Inside each of the future collections are kings and courtiers, competitions are taking place between the rulers, the struggle for the throne is under way, and technologies that try to defeat a human, arise.

The program tells about the poetic books that will appear tomorrow, and the authors who will project the nearest future. The form will only supplement the content, because the words are the main tool. In the center of the future poetry collection by Myroslav Laiuk is neither poet nor human, but poetic and humane, Kateryna Kalytko — faith and doubt, Ostap Slyvynskyi — found ideals and bygone memories, Vano Kruger, Hienyk Beliakov and Oleksandr Motsar — hooliganism and conquest.

The Tramontane Kingdom is a curatorial program that will not only bring together not yet published collections, leaving the right for the first reading, but will also identify and fix the poetic symptoms of the present. What poetry will be read, what topics will be brought up, what concepts will be distinguished. There is an allusion to the “tramontane commune”, and hence humanistic ideals, the romantic projection of the future, where the world order adapts to a person and lets understand what the “poetic” will be like tomorrow, what images will return and the lack of what topics we will feel. The main issues of the poetic program as a repeater are: What is the ideal future? What will be the images? And where is the boundary between machines as a motive of progress and poetry as a unit of art and alternative reality at the same time?

Words of the year

World dictionaries are constantly competing in the summing up speed through the prism of “words of the year”.

According to Merriam-Webster, the Word of the Year is “feminism”, being the most frequently asked. Such a choice is closely linked to mass culture (let’s recall the new heroine of Star Wars, the signature of Catherine Deneuve under the “letter of 100 French Women” or “Weinstein-hate” in Hollywood), political events (at least Clinton vs. Trump), protest movements (Black Protest in Poland, Women’s March in the United States, attacks on women’s marches in Ukraine, March 8, 2018), charitable initiatives (Time’s Up Foundation, the global movement HeforShe, which Ukraine joined in 2018), and many others.

In turn, Oxford Dictionary compilers say that the word of the year is “youthquake”, defined as ‘a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people’. This is a conversation not only about the special ethics, not only about the new generation, but also about the prospect — about the future.

Accomplice”, the word of the year according to, says a lot about what is forthcoming. On the dictionary’s website, the article explaining the choice reminds us of “inaction as a type of action”. Hence, it is a warning of the danger of indifference and passivity. But there is also a recipe for success — a joint action and self-organization. This means to be associate actors, but not spectating accomplices.

That is why the program Words of the Year is at the junction of topics. We are talking about the future, equality of rights of women and men, joint action, solidarity, sisterhood, and brotherhood. It is quite logical that the program combines the discussion on feminism of tomorrow, today and 100 years ago, on continuity between generations, the presentation of a children’s book about prominent Ukrainian women and a public talk about being a responsible father, an emphasis on the actions of women leaders and men with pro-feministic views, conversations about the concept of “courage” as a cultural construct and reflection about whether we will behave as children of 2018.

Where to Put an Alien Historical Experience?

“The past is not dead. It’s not even past”, William Faulkner wrote.

The creative work of all four writers presented in the program Where to Put an Alien Historical Experience? are combined by the desire to get across little-known or local moments of the past to the future and today’s reader. Everything written in the authors’ books is at the same time familiar and unfamiliar to the Ukrainian reader. The language conflict, its political utilization and consequences for people who live in the middle of this conflict — it’s all about modern Ukraine and for a wonder it’s all about Northern Italy or part of the South Tyrol, which is a

German-speaking region that was detached from Austria a century ago and became an Italian province. The issues of language and identity have appeared many times in different countries and will arise again and again. How was it solved by others? How we will solve it? All this, but not only this is told in the novel by the famous Italian writer Francesca Melandri Eva Sleeps.

Dan Lungu — one of the most famous Romanian writers, the author of the novel Sînt o babă comunistă! (I Am an Old Communist Hag) — returns to the topic of nostalgia for the Ceausescu’s dictatorship. Is it true that people are nostalgic about that past, or just about their youth? Is it funny or rather sad? What the future generations of Romanians and Ukrainians will be nostalgic about?

Meir Shalev — a famous Israeli writer, the author of the novel My Russian Grandmother and her American Vacuum Cleaner — tells a true story about his ancestors who arrived at 1948 to create the State of Israel. This novel is the novel-antipode to Sholokhov’s Podnyataya Tselina (Virgin Soil Upturned), but nobody neither tells nor writes about that. This is a novel about the transformation of desert into a garden, the creation of new world, new life, about the transformation of the Soviet people into the citizens of a new state.  There are a lot of humor in it, a lot of life’s truth, and many questions everyone gives his or her own answer to.

Norman Ohler — a German novelist, screenwriter and journalist — has recently surprised the literary world with his book High Hitler, in which he tells about little-known side of the Second World War: about the search, production and consequences of the drug consumption that would have led to the ‘great victory’ of German fascism. He tells about drugs for soldiers and army officers, about Hitler and his personal doctor Theodor Morell. Also, it’s about why professional historians don’t pay attention to non-historical reasons of these or those events. This book has attracted attention of politicians and historians. It has made a great many of people look back on their past and cast another view on it.

Let’s try to look on the past in a different way, too: on our own past and someone else’s.

The world is changing rapidly. New technologies appear. Information overload is no longer a novelty. Our life today is hardly comparable to the life of our predecessors. The tried and true recipes of “how to live your life properly”, “how to learn” and “what to read” no longer work.

So, what’s next? To Be Continued! is the special theme of our Kids Program this year.

As we ponder about the future, we seek an answer to a number of questions: What books accompanied us yesterday, are with us today, and will be with us tomorrow? What themes always matter and which artistic tools can speak through time?

Perhaps, it’s the books we remember from our childhood, as parents read them out loud and looked at the pictures with the kids, making up their own continuations of well-known stories. Perhaps, it’s the books that both parents and children can relate to today, helping them overcome their generation gaps and figure out the multifaceted and complex world just a bit better. Perhaps, it’s the books our children will take with them into tomorrow as a foundation for maturing and finding their place in the ever changing world.

These are all part of the Silent Books, a unique collection by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) displayed at the Book Arsenal Festival with the support of the Embassy of Switzerland in Ukraine. We have invited Dr. Evelyn Arizpe, Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow (Scotland) and a leading expert in children’s literature, to present the collection of textless books, to talk about how it was compiled, and to show new models of storytelling.

Eva Susso, a well-known writer and illustrator from Switzerland, the author of over 30 books for children and teenagers, will be our special international guest. Her books discuss challenging questions about timeless values and provoke debate. They help the readers find their personal life stance and develop their own opinions.

We are also looking forward to welcoming other international guests, including illustrator and author Emilia Dziubak, and Grzegorz Kasdepke, master of witty and scientifically balanced non-fiction for children, — both from Poland; Gudrun Skretting, an expert in communication and finding ways to understanding one another from Norway, and more.

Another aspect of our special theme this year is the books, genres and formats that prepare children for the future, deliver new knowledge and blur the line between today and tomorrow. These are non-fiction, educational books — including those on alternative educational practices — motivational books and the books that develop skills for the future.

Our French guest Oscar Brenifier, a UNESCO expert, Director of the Paris Institute of Philosophical Practices, and one of the best known specialists in child development,    questions the rightness of the conventional system of education and offers switching to direct dialogue with children.

The Space and biotechnologies, computer science and law, psychology and robotics, history and urban studies — the festival presents new popular science books from various spheres that will help the young audience understand the rapidly changing world, support their interest in education, motivate the readers to get new hobbies, and offer additional knowledge and expertise. Our intention with this choice of themes is to go beyond the framework of the book community exclusively: we therefore encourage educational and popular science projects, civic initiatives and alternative schools to communicate and share thoughts and ideas.

New practices of reading, interactive books, hypertexts, storytelling, and mixing different channels of information sharing — all this is within the thematic framework of our lecture program, workshops and roundtables, presentations and master classes with the top authors and illustrators of children’s books, promoters of science, teachers and librarians.

Our special theme allows us to go beyond the limits of everyday reality. One way to do this is to engage in a project called Meeting Tukoni. Initiated by the Book Arsenal Festival and implemented by the New Cave Media in the VR app format, it is based on the books about the forest  creatures called Tukoni and their magic world by Oksana Bula, published by the Old Lion Publishing House.

Children are the best futurologists. It is through them — adventurous, unimpeded, talented and sincere — that adults can get into the future. Because, while we live in our today, children are already there.

The partner for the Kids Program is LuckyBooks, a charity project for publication and free distribution of popular science literature for teenagers in the Ukrainian language. It is a joint initiative of I Am the Future of Ukraine charity foundation and Lucky Labs IT company.

Book Arsenal is one of the most important literature and art events in Ukraine. A book today is not merely a physical copy with a certain production cost, but an object for which a certain aura, image and image space are created. That’s when we need to additionally speak about every new book that comes out. This means more than just offering books at a stand and selling them. A book has to be actualized, information resonance has to be built, and the attention of those interested in books professionally or collecting their own libraries has to be won.

That’s what the Ukrainian Program is intended to do as the largest and flexible component of the festival program. It is mostly comprised of selected proposals by the publishers updated to meet the requests of the festival’s curatorial team.

Summarizing the experience of different curators that have worked on the publishing component of the festival for several years, the principle of designing the Ukrainian Program can be placed somewhere between curatorship and mentorship. This is another of the Arsenal’s contributions into the progress of publishing in Ukraine.

For now, the Ukrainian Program offers almost 200 events focused on a wide range of themes.

These are the issues that keep the whole Western world reflecting, including human rights and freedoms, gender equality, democracy, history and culture — Ukrainian publishers reflect on them as well. A debate is not necessarily sparked by a newly published book. An international book award or ways for the writers to defend their rights or freedom can act as a trigger, too. This year will see fewer bright debuts in prose, but it will offer new editions of classics and powerful anthologies of individual authors. The range of Ukrainian content is growing alongside translated books, especially in non-fiction.

Opinion leaders, activists, journalists, pop culture stars and celebrities will try their skills as authors or experts in conversations on the latest books. This leads us to another trend — one where writing books is becoming a trendy thing. As a result, reading is becoming trendier as well.

What awaits us in the future? In the time of changing modernity, rapid development of science and technology, a boom of futurology, discussion of genetic modifications in humans and evolution of artificial intelligence, as new professions and socio-economic classes emerge while today’s institutions of power stagnate and decay, fears of mass unemployment rise, as do concerns of the new technogenic Middle Ages, in the time of chaos and controversies – what can our future be like? We are to talk about all this at the International Program with foreign authors and experts.

This discussion has an unprecedentedly broad geographic span as this year’s festival welcomes guests from 31 countries. Embassies of the USA, Hungary, Israel and Lebanon, as well as the Beirut International Arab Book Fair will have their own stands at the Book Arsenal for the first time.   

Overall, more than 90 well-known writers, philosophers, scientists and academics, artists and cultural figures will take part in the festival events. Sylwia Chutnik from Poland will discuss cities of the future while Dan Kinkead from the US will speak about the efficiency of urbanization and transformations in post-industrial cities. Micha Elias Pichlkastner from Austria will deliver a lecture on human body in the age of mechanical reproduction and on an artist’s perspective of the meaningfulness of human body in the digital age. Julius Wiedemann, Editor-in-Chief at the Taschen publishing house (UK) will join the jury of the Best Book Design 2018 competition. Mr. Wiedemann will also deliver a lecture about international trends in the publishing business and innovations at the crossroads of culture, communications and technology.

When dreaming and reflecting on the future, it is critically important to work with memory and the past, archives and memoires. Books and studies presented by their authors at the festival will help in this. These include Anne Applebaum’s (USA) latest book about Holodomor, books from Karlag: Memory In the Name of the Future research project by Nurlan Dulatbekov (Kazakhstan) focusing on the Karaganda GULAG labor camp, or research based on Witold Pilecki’s memoirs from Auschwitz by historian Wiesław Jan Wysocki (Poland). At the same time, writer and historian Luuk van Middelaar (Netherlands) will discuss the roots and the development of the European Union, while Andrew Wilson (UK), Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, will talk about virtual politics and democracy in the face of challenges of the future.  

The professional program deserves special attention as its participants will outline global and local trends, innovations and forecasts for the publishing business. How the habits and expectations of the readers transform? How are publishers in different countries booking a niche for their business in the future? What do they count on and how do they adapt? All this is part of the discussion at Booking the Future professional platform. A number of foreign translators, literature experts, academics and researchers will deliver lectures, workshops and talks at this year’s Book Arsenal.

For the second time now, the festival hosts a 60 sq. m collective stand for Germany publishers and a special program of events in partnership with the Frankfurt Book Fair with the support of Germany’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Goethe-Institut in Ukraine. A large cultural program with nearly 20 events celebrates the Ukrainian-German Year of Languages. Our guests are welcome to attend a series of To the Touch project events focusing on utopias and dystopias for teenagers. Resonating with the Book Arsenal’s focus theme, this project presents German utopian and dystopian novels for teenagers and young people translated into Ukrainian. The virtual reality project VRwandlung based on Franz Kafka’s Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis) will be presented within this cooperation framework as well. A mix of technology and multimedia may grow into a commonly-used tool for reading literature in the future. Another virtual project by the Dutch artists titled Out of Sight takes us to the world of the 9-year old Lena and her father, offering us to try the role of one of the characters and experience their story.

The Czech Center in Kyiv in cooperation with the Embassies of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic in Ukraine, and LIC Bratislava center has prepared a series of cultural and educational projects to mark The 100th anniversary of a Shared Century in 2018.

This year’s Book Arsenal will continue the tradition of hosting curatorial programs from top international literature festivals. In 2018, the Bratislava Book Festival (BRaK) will be the guest of the Book Arsenal in Kyiv. Curated by Peter Michalík (Slovakia), it will present a program of readings, public talks and discussions, focusing on niche festivals and Slovak literature in the world context among other things.  

In the changing transition of the present day (Interregnum as it was called by sociologist and thinker Zygmund Bauman), there are no longer any great ideas that could lead humanity for itself, there are no single rules and norms — culture creates new needs itself, unceasingly absorbs all the diversity of the world and describes incredible variants of the mankind development.

How to focus on the future, overthink it when there is a lack of strength? After all, to dream and imagine the future, as it was during the wave of hopes after the World War II and the Cold War, is becoming increasingly difficult. One of the possibilities lies in culture: it often becomes an open window through which the spirits of the future break through, destroying the past tradition, as Boris Groys wrote about Malevich’s Black Square. Culture allows for the unknown, opens the door to the unknown, but also raises questions without obvious answers — and this poetic, vision content of culture is extremely important for a person.

The future does not exist yet, there are only our forecasts and imaginary projects. The future attracts with its inconceivability, and at the same time it is not subject to cognition: usually, we realize that a certain trend becomes a decisive trace of time, and that tomorrow the current reality will be described with its coordinates, too late. The future is an eternal hope; we seek solace from traumas and suffering in it. But this is also a thirst for new challenges.

In conversations about the future, Zygmund Bauman suggested imagining ourselves passengers of a plane where the pilot booth is empty, and the airfield we have to land on is not yet built due to bureaucratic misunderstandings. This vivid analogy hints at the fact that we often lack the internal resources to see the picture as a whole, because we are all busy with searching for an oxygen mask.

The culture of the twentieth century constantly found itself in a threatened situation, with the face of Angelus Novus (New Angel) by Paul Klee, as Walter Benjamin interpreted this painting — the Angel of history, confused in front of the future, but who is driven irresistibly into the future by the storm of disasters. The philosopher spent his last money on the picture in 1921, and it traveled together with its owner until it survived him and almost disappeared from the history of culture as the rest of the Degenerate Art in the war times. Today, we see the face of the Angel thanks to the efforts of Benjamin’s friends — same sad philosophers who hoped hopelessly and saved the picture for future generations. Perhaps this is the strength of culture — to survive, to overcome the future simulated by it?

Scientists talk about the future of certain technologies and branches of science confidently, but the likely models of communities and government structures remain rather vague. By adopting a dystopian tradition of writing, scholars and journalists are chasing each other in the process of developing scenarios for the development of tomorrow’s world, and biology, medicine, information digital world look most realistic in these orderly forecasts.

In his novel The Solar Machine, published exactly a century ago, Volodymyr Vynnychenko described a society in which people fed on solar energy. There is no need to procure food, the exploitation is overcome, but new moral and ethical conditions appear in this society under which geniuses are proclaimed insane. Literature always goes further than predicting or constructing technological inventions — it sees the nature of human in any context. Instead, in real life it is difficult to predict what future communities will appeal to — religious fundamentalism against the backdrop of advanced scientific discoveries, or perhaps, to the destruction of power hierarchies and elites?

At first sight, perhaps the greatest optimists about the future are the representatives of the philosophical movement called transhumanism. They are guided by the principle “when it seems that it is the end, it turns out that it is only the beginning”. Transhumanists believe in the opportunities of a new posthuman who will be able to edit the genome of embryos, cross the borders of the solar system and overcome old age as one of the diseases. Nowadays, against the backdrop of successful rocket launches into the orbit of Mars, the average life expectancy of a person in 150 years, as predicted by scientists, does not look so fantastic. However, the critics of posthumanism are now asking: why does a person need an eternal life if there is no knowledge of pain in it, and how can one understand another’s experience without this knowledge? And if the imperative of a new person will be a constant physical improvement, then what is the value of the imperfect?

These issues become more and more relevant and require readiness to think of them in public space. This year’s focus theme The Project of the Future aims to combine joint efforts and overcome one of the most difficult challenges of crisis times — to imagine scenarios of the future.

Humanity tirelessly seeks for cure from cancer, designs cyber prostheses, discovers gravitational waves, discusses artificial intelligence. The future can not but seduce with its opportunities and hope for a better world. However, scenarios of the future are written not only by writers and scholars, but also by those who keep the knowledge of Angelus Novus for descendant.