An exhibition about our feelingsExhibitions

An exhibition about our feelings

An exhibition about our feelings
Мистецький Арсенал
вул. Лаврська, 10-12
Київ, Київська область 01010

When the sound of air raid alarms pierces a sunny morning over the Pechersk Hills, you automatically speed up your steps, hurrying to the Old Arsenal building. By historical irony, the building that was erected more than two centuries ago by the Russian imperial administration in order to establish its presence has recently been perceived as a secure place.

Kyiv is also felt differently now. Those who are obstinate and have stayed here under enemy fire, and those who are coming back from their almost biblical “exodus” perceive the city as perhaps not entirely safe, but a real home. It is as if the city that has survived the attack is trying to restore the normal way of life as much as possible, misleading its inhabitants, who seem to have woken up from a nightmare and are trying to live in the pre-war rhythm again.

Sometimes it seems that we are wasting our efforts: outside the fragile comfort that we have built, a strange, hostile space is arising, crucified by war. At any moment, it can expand, absorbing our safety island. Are we thinking about it? Or are we rather just lulling our fears, hiding them deeper under the guise of optimism that is sometimes feigned, and sometimes quite sincere? Are we getting used to realising that it will never be the same as before? It will be different, maybe it will even be great, but for sure, it will never be the same. In such a new reality between Before and After we are looking for a place for museums, exhibitions, and art.

These halls should have been hosting a completely different exposition, different works, and different conceptual issues. The war has changed our plans and forced us to focus on the new experiences, looking for artistic equivalents of our own feelings. The ambivalence of our emotions and thoughts – this is what we are trying to say with this exposition. Fine art is like a screen behind which our fear and pain are flickering. And even the term “fine art” itself is something on the verge of professional jargon and nostalgia for old times. Here, we are trying to speak about the multi-layeredness, indefiniteness and uncertainty of what we are living through these days; about the numerous differences between the depth and the surface of our city, when the idyllic beauty of chestnuts in bloom does not mean cloudlessness. However, pain and shock do not exhaust our lives. There is also hope, persistence, devotion, love. There still is beauty, and there is future. What seemed trivial is now getting an authentic, deep sound.

All in all, this is a rather chaotic project that has originated from the conversations and discussions within the team of the Mystetskyi Arsenal. Reflecting on everything that each of us has experienced during the first months of the war is still impossible and perhaps too early. But we are still coming back to this experience, again and again, in our thoughts and conversations. How do we understand art now? What do we feel about it? Do we perceive it in a literal and simplified way, like a relationship in times of war when simple things matter? Are we drawing analogies between classic plots (that, until recently, seemed hopelessly trivial) and what we have lived through? Are we looking for metaphors to describe our experience?

It seems to us that after the museum in the village of Ivankiv was shelled, no one will ever consider Maria Prymachenko’s characters funny. The horrific exile experience of Yurii Solovii, who lived in the DP camps of Europe after WW2 under a constant threat of being repatriated to the USSR, resonates with the horrors of filtration and deportation in Russian-occupied territories. Instead, Yurii Kovalenko’s colourful fair stories in the best way convey the mood of his native city of Odesa, where desperate people are sunbathing on the mined beaches, because pain and shock do not exhaust our lives. We will definitely expand our friendly space, and therefore, according to the name of a painting in this exhibition, renovation is a state of mind. Probably for years. And this is our new experience that has yet to be reflected upon and visualised through new practices. In the future that is to come.

A part of this project is the articulation of the personal experience by the institution’s team, recorded in video format. These videos will be a part of the exhibition. 15 separate video with English subtitlesstories can be viewed at the Exhibition.

The exhibition will run till August 21, 2022.
Working hours: Wednesday-Sunday, from 11 AM to 6 PM. The schedule may vary depending on the security situation.


  • Curator of the project

    Olga Melnyk