ROLIT. NEIGHBORSКнижковий Арсенал


Curated by Viktoriya Velychko, Olha Melnyk and Ihor Oksametnyi

The main character of our exhibition is the dwelling house ROLIT (The Worker of Literature) located in Bohdan Khmelnytskyi Street in Kyiv. This address has been represented the history of the Ukrainian Soviet literature for more than 70 years. Based on cooperative principles in times of the housing crisis in order to provide conditions for creative work, through the years, ROLIT has turned into a kind of Ranking Chart.

Living in it actually meant that one referred to the literary elite, and the floor space determined one’s contribution to literature. Under the same roof,  there lived both the beloved by government literary ‘generals’ and the ‘unreliable’ who were under the supervision of the NKVD and KGB. From here, they were sent to prisons, to the front, and for emigration. Here, they received medal awarding orders, with the following Communist Party decisions about the ‘ideological errors’ in the literature.

Time subjected the Soviet Ranking Chart to a merciless revision: outsiders turned into classics, the former recognized leading figures disappeared from the pages of the literary chronicle. The characters of the ‘main playwright of the country’ Oleksandr Korniychuk have long disappeared from the stage. The praises of “Dniprelstan” by Volodymyr Sosyura were forgotten, however, the poem Love Ukraine, which was branded as a bourgeois-nationalist, acquired sacral content in the tragic circumstances of modern times. We laugh at the witty ‘smiles’ of Ostap Vyshnya, who, having survived the darkness of the GULAG, retained his gentle humor and genuine sincerity.

The episodes from the life of ROLIT allow us to compare the images of the classics, formed by the works of artists, with their daily affairs, which were sometimes determined by a complex ethical choice, and describe the historical circumstances that dominated creative work.

The project was inspired by the book The Mysteries of Writers’ Boxes by Stanislav Tsalyk and Pylyp Selihey, which captured the brilliant story from the Soviet writers’ everyday life. And thus, it became part of the project material.

Maksym Rylskyi Literature and Memorial Museum of Kyiv
Literary Memorial Apartment Museum of Mykola Bazhan in Kyiv
Pavlo Tychyna Literary Memorial Apartment Museum
Museum of the Sixties
Oles Honchar Museum of the Institute of Philology of Taras Shevchenko National University
Museum of Theatrical, Musical and Cinema Art of Ukraine
Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine
National Museum of Ukrainian Literature, memorial writers’ museums
The Central State Archives Museum of Literature and Arts of Ukraine
The Center for the Studies of History and Culture of East European Jewry
Pshenichny Central State Cinophotophone Archives of Ukraine