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Flashback. Ukrainian media art of the 1990s

“Flashback. Ukrainian media art of the 1990s” is an exhibition of Ukrainian video art of 90-s that will be opened on March 1 at Mystetskyi arsenal.

This project is a continuation of the line of exhibitions at Mystetskyi Arsenal encompassing the history of contemporary Ukrainian art — names, phenomena, schools, periods. Through exhibition research these projects aim to create a visual anthology imbued with new conceptual views, values and meanings.

The reference to the ‘90s is justified for several reasons. First, the cycle of interest in this complex and ambiguous watershed decade has reached its historical point. It is understood that the ‘90s are now history; it’s time for analysis, not just reflection, time to break existing stereotypes and schemes. But the gradation of this return to the ‘90s is like a FLASHBACK, a flash of memories of the past – what in cinematography is known as a “reverse shot.” Second, the ‘90s were the first decade of Ukrainian independence. And although contemporary art came here somewhat earlier in the decline of the Soviet era, in the ‘90s it gained new impetus for its development as a new cultural identity. In the first decade this development changed noticeable in terms of its figurative and technical means. New priorities appeared related primarily to the media vector – art using new technology, video.


Arsen Savadov, Georgiy Senchenko. The Voices of Love, 1994


Ukrainian video, its appearance delayed until the very beginning of the ‘90s, was by the end of the decade testing different types and techniques of this art: short films experimenting with form, morphing, reformatted film, clipping, 3D animation, online, interactive, often in the format of documentation of performances or as part of multimedia installations. In the second half of the 90s, video art that thinks in the form of a TV box is replaced by a different kind of video created for a new type of exhibition space: the black box – a specially created dark room with projection, where ideally the viewer is alone with the piece, perceiving it not simply as a television picture, but as a video installation with a complex spatial aura. All this, without claiming to be exhaustive, is reflected in the exhibition project, as some things disappeared or lost their ability to be reproduced.


Oleksander Hnylytskyj, Natalia Filonenko, Maksym Mamsikov. Trick mirrors, 1993


The exhibition consists of several conceptual and typological blocks, formal lines and nodes. Because diffusion is always inevitable, they can somewhat conditionally be defined as: social time, anthropological shift (greater interest in physicality, psychedelics, sexuality), “about cinema,” video archive, media installation.

It should be noted that these trends in the “media revolution” corresponded to the general context: one of the main themes of the ‘90s was the definitive transition of consciousness to the screen and depiction of the world through the camera lens.

An important feature of Ukrainian media art of those years is that it wasn’t tempted to fly into the sphere of so-called high media, nor was it involved in projects charged strictly with experimenting with cyberspace, computer networks and virtual reality. This could make Ukrainian media art of the ‘90s seem archaic or even naïve, mainly because of technical limitations. But there is another side – non-trivial visual examinations and solutions. Media in the hands of Ukrainian authors becomes a special tool for creating moving images that relevantly reflect the content and spirit of the time.

Participants: Akuvido, Vasyl Bazhaj, Andriy Bludov, Andrij Bojarov, Oleksander Vereshchak, Glib Vysheslavskyi, Anatoliy Gankevich, Tetyana Gershuni, Risa Horowitz, Oleh Hnativ, Oleksander Hnylytskyj, Natalia Golibroda, Igor Gusev, Dmytro Dulfan, Margarita Zinets, Volodymyr Yershykhin, Illya Isupov, Andriy Kazandzhiy, Gleb Katchuk, Vlodko Kaufman, Olga Kashimbekova, Yuriy Kruchak, Pavlo Kovach Sr., Eduard Kolodiy, Miroslav Kulchitsky, Victor Malyarenko, Maksym Mamsikov, Vyacheslav Mashnytskyi, Oleg Migas, Volodymyr Muzhesky, Viktoria Parkhomenko, Phil Perlovsky, Taras Polataiko, Taras Prokhasko, Kirill Protsenko, Oleksander Roitburd, Arsen Savadov, Solomia Savchuk, Georgiy Senchenko, Vitaliy Serdiukov, Yuri Solomko, Petro Starukh, Anatol Stepanenko, Valeria Trubina, Natalia Filonenko, Masoсh Fund, Igor Hodzinsky, Vasyl Tsagolov, Ivan Tsupka, Vadym Chekorsky, Oksana Chepelyk, Illya Chichkan, Kyrylo Chichkan, Oleksander Shevchuk, Serhiy Yakunin, Szuper Gallery

Curators: Oleksander Soloviov, Solomia Savchuk

The exhibition is on till May 6, 2018.