Book arsenal 2019Book Arsenal


Thousands of books, meetings with Ukrainian and foreign authors, autograph sessions, presentations, special projects and exhibitions, illustrators’ fair and much more. On May 22-26, Mystetskyi Arsenal hosts the 9th International Book Arsenal Festival.

This year, the Book Arsenal Festival focuses on the theme of living together and common existing based on values ​​and agreements. The special program Neighborhood: An Open Question covers various manifestations of intercultural, inter-historical and inter-political relations between neighboring countries: inter-influences in literature, prominent figures at the crossroads of cultures, the right for the memory and place in history, transformations of countries after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and current redesigning of European political landscape. How are internal connections built inside the country? How can we discover each other through travels, reports, translations, joint publishing and art projects? How does the image of Ukrainian culture change in the eyes of its neighbors? What influences its forming?

“Responsibility, participation and dialogue – these concepts are actively discussed in Ukrainian society as key to the further development of the country. All of them assume the other side, the other voice. Who are these well-known and unknown “others” with whom we interact on the geographical scale of the country, in the immediate border zone and within the framework of modern political alliances? Where does the private territory end and where does the common one start?

What kind of images of neighbors, enemies, fellows, allies and traitors were created by the Ukrainian culture, and who is portrayed by it today? And how from the modern point of view, we re-read these images in the texts by Taras Shevchenko, Panteleimon Kulish or Ivan Nechui-Levytskyi?”, says Vira Baldyniuk, curator of the focus theme program, as well as editor-in-chief of the online magazine Korydor, journalist, critic, who joined the Book Arsenal team in 2018.

The exhibition ROLIT/NEIGHBORS will extend the focus theme. It is dedicated to the legendary Cooperative House of Literary Workers, widely known as the Kyiv ROLIT. The house construction and its filling up with inhabitants coincided with the repressions beginning and radical change in the literary life organization. Various creative associations were eliminated and the single Union of Soviet Writers of Ukraine emerged (1934), at the same time the capital city was transferred from Kharkiv to Kyiv. The exhibition will highlight some inhabitants’ stories associated with their life periods in Rolit, relations with neighbors, their personal and their social, life and works of outstanding artists such as Ostap Vyshnia, Maksym Rylskyi, Oles Honchar and many others.

The Veteran Tent will be in Festival’s particular focus: a special project of Mystetskyi Arsenal and veteran writers in partnership with the Ministry of Veteran Affairs of Ukraine. The literature on the current Russian-Ukrainian war written by combatants and volunteers will be presented in a specially equipped military tent in Mystetskyi Arsenal courtyard. Authors’ autograph sessions will also take place there.

Canada will have a special status within the International Program of the Book Arsenal Festival. For the first time at the Festival, Canada will present a special program of meetings with authors and presentations of recent translations. Among other important international focuses are discussions on neighborhood on a global scale, historical topics, talks about human rights and freedoms. Also, a professional program for publishers and literary managers will be traditionally held; as well as ‘translators’ breakfasts’ – meetings with the leading professionals of the industry, analysis of practical cases and theoretical aspects. Discussions on visual arts and design will add to literature and book publishing talks.

Among the foreign participants are: Meik Wiking (Denmark), Derek Brazell (Great Britain), Joe Davis (Great Britain), Martyna Bunda (Poland), Chris Abani (USA), Sofi Oksanen (Finland), Barbara Cassin (France), Grace Kennan (USA), Adam Pomorsky (Poland), Bohdan Zadura (Poland), Edward Nawotka (USA), Andreas Kappeler (Austria), Alexandra Shulman (Great Britain), Ania Khromova (Israel), Michael Kimmel (USA), Iben Akerlie (Norway), Abir Mukherjee (Great Britain), Stanislav Komarek (Czech Republic) and others.

The Kids Program of the Festival is called Here it is! It focuses on Ukrainian authors. The Book Arsenal Festival addresses the problem of translations domination in modern children’s literature and the need to support local authors and publishers; the importance, promise and potential of local cool ‘stars’ in children’s literature. The main events of the Kids Program will focus on the local, high-quality and worthy that is here, near us. The young readers will have the opportunity to visit the biggest autograph session in history by their favorite authors and the ‘live library’, sparrings, battles, ‘aquarium’, discussions and anti-discussions, etc.

A unique combination of contemporary poetry, music and visual images, when all senses work together, will be presented within the ArtPole Agency special project – rozdIlovI. The Poetry/music/visualization – signs of interaction performance is an interdisciplinary artwork. Its greatest artistic value is the interaction between literature, music, and the visual image which resonates with the focus theme of this year’s Festival. ​​Olia Mykhailiuk, the author of the idea, Serhiy Zhadan, the poet, Alexey Vorsoba, the composer, Tomasz Sikora, Serhiy Piliavets and other project participants will present the performance at the Book Arsenal Festival.

The central theme of this year’s Music Program Imaginary Dances is a non-idealized neighborhood, and the vast number of dances aim to establish visual and tactile contact. The modernized version of Kaidash’s Family novel by Ivan Nechui-Levytskyi will be one of the Performance Program prominent events. The classic plot is reinterpreted by director Maksym Holenko and playwright Natalka Vorozhbyt. Who are the closest neighbors, friends and blood enemies, if not relatives living in one mansion?

Poet Andriy Bondar will present a special curatorial program Who am I? In Conversation with Neighbors. Who is the modern Ukrainian intellectual, how does he/she nourish himself and how does he/she make his living? Andriy Bondar will talk to guests from different countries – firstly about themselves, but also about himself. The artist is a narcissist by definition, but this does not prevent him/her from admiring other artists. Five talks of the writer Andriy Bondar with personalities who he is interested in.

Kyiv on air curatorial program by Iryna Slavinska is devoted to the Ukrainian Radio 95th anniversary. A unique bunch of events will be presented on the Radio Station stage. Among them are not only the scheduled program discussions but also live broadcasts on Radio Kultura and other Suspilne Media (public broadcasting) channels that can be listened to at the Book Arsenal Festival in Kyiv, as well as on the waves of the ether throughout the world, that is without borders.