A Space of One's Own
October 30, 2018 - January 06, 2019
The Research Platform of the PinchukArtCentre presents a group exhibition "A Space of One's Own", which offers one possible perspective on the history of Ukrainian art and the place of women in it by emphasizing the preeminent art phenomena and taking into account the complex specificity of the Ukrainian sociopolitical context. With the aim to generate a living archive of Ukrainian contemporary art from the early 1980s to present, the PinchukArtCentre's Research Platform visualizes the results of its work through a regular exhibition practice.

The title of the exhibition references Virginia Woolf's classic essay A Room of One's Own (1929), in which the writer challenged the stereotypical understanding of a woman artist's position and place in the "men's" world. By engaging with this title, the exhibition raises the question of women's "room" in contemporary Ukrainian society. Eschewing clear definitions of what this space might be, the show raises the question of the nature of comfort zones, spaces of freedom, and spaces of expression instead, etc.

Participating artists: Yevgenia Belorusets, Kateryna Bilokur, Yana Bystrova, Oleksandr Chekmeniov, Oksana Chepelyk, Semen Ioffe, Zhanna Kadyrova, Alevtina Kakhidze, Oksana Kazminа, Alina Kleytman, Alina Kopytsa, Oksana Pavlenko, Maria Prymachenko, Polina Raiko, Vlada Ralko, Anna Scherbyna, Maryna Skugareva, Hanna Sobachko-Shostak, Mykola Trokh, Kateryna Yermolaeva, Margarita Zharkova, Anna Zvyagintseva.

The exhibition attempts to highlight the specificity of the Ukrainian art context, which, having inherited outstanding contradictions of the Soviet experience, simultaneously seeks to inscribe itself, if somewhat artificially, into preexisting West European narratives.

The exhibition is comprised of roughly three parts focusing on different interpretations of the notion of space: as enforced and hidden, as political and manifested, and as bodily and sensual. These "spaces" are constructed around a dialogue between the works of contemporary artists and historical artworks (propaganda posters of the 1920s-30s, Soviet monumental art, the so-called folk art, etc.) This marks the first time when PinchukArtCentre invited artists to create new works for a research exhibition, addressing or rethinking the issues raised in the show.

Curators: Tatiana Kochubinska and Tetiana Zhmurko.

The exhibition was made possible through the cooperation with the National Art Museum of Ukraine, the National Museum of Ukrainian Decorative Folk Art, V.I. Vernadskyi National Library of Ukraine, and Polina Raiko Charity Foundation.

Technical partner of the exhibition: Front Pictures.
The artist, Polina Raiko (1928-2004), was born in the town of Tsiurupynsk (now Oleshky), Kherson region, where she lived her whole life. The hall recreates Raiko's "room of her own." Raiko was made famous in the early 2000s thanks to her paintings, which covered her entire house. Her paintings weave together autobiographical stories, religious motifs, Soviet symbols and dream imagery. In her house of seven small rooms, Raiko developed her own "iconographic system" of plots and images describing her vision of her earthly life and her understanding of afterlife.

Lacking professional schooling, Polina Raiko did not start painting until the late 1990s, prompted by her involuntary, tragic solitude. The loss of her husband, daughter and son released primeval energy in her. Polina Raiko embodied the image of a stereotypical anchorite, a "madwoman" misunderstood and condoned by society. Her hermitage, however, gave the artist space for unbound creative freedom, even if it was circumscribed to her "room of one's own."

In her audio work, the artist Anna Shcherbyna enters a dialogue with Polina Raiko's "room." Emitting zoomorphic, guttural sounds, she seems to summon the deep, pre-verbal, archaic, animalistic phenomena steeped in physiological instincts, opposed to the social order and the embeddedness in the power hierarchy. The general stream of "murmurs" is occasionally interrupted by a clear "No!," which alone harbors political impetus and can manifest a female voice in contemporary society.
Reproduction of Murals of Polina Raiko House (1928–2004)
Photographer: Semen Khramtsov
c-print
Courtesy of the Polina Raiko Сharity Foundation
Engaging with historical stereotypes surrounding so-called "women's" art as limited to crocheting, embroidery, weaving and other art practices of the sort, the hall constructs an intimate hidden space of interwoven media, generations and contexts. It creates the air of domesticity, the atmosphere whose support and preservation was traditionally seen as women's domain. The room's exhibits include works by Kateryna Bilokur and Maria Prymachenko, who came into their own as artists in a strongly patriarchal society, without "a room of their own." This precluded them from becoming professional artists. The "suppressed" creative and feminine essence found expression in their singular visual universe populated by imaginary animals, birds and flowers. These naïve images are expected of women, and hence were permitted in the masculine world.

Their works enter a dialogue with a tapestry by Margarita Zharkova, one of the originators of the nonconformist movement in Odessa, whose apartment became a meeting spot for this circle of artists and the site for first private art shows. Supporting new art trends, she let her own art fall by the wayside in favor of bolstering other artists she saw as "more talented." Taken together, all these works raise the issue of the location of the site that offers room for art. The hall culminates in the work by Alina Kleytman, in which the artist accumulates and carries to the point of absurdity all the stereotypes and clichés around women's self-perception and self-expression current in our society. The protagonist of her video grovels and stigmatizes herself to ingratiate herself to a man.
Alina Kopytsa
Interior, 2018
textile collage
Commissioned by PinchukArtCentre
Alina Kopytsya consciously adopts textiles in her art as a "quintessentially" feminine material, but infuses them with explicitly erotic meanings in order to problematize women's position in contemporary society. Her new work physically divides the two rooms and opens the chapter exploring intimacy. It serves as a metaphor of the hidden private world and appears as a barrier before the viewers, hiding and protecting the objects within. The works collected in this space symbolize the "intersection" of various "rooms," from the absence of one (Bilokur, Prymachenko), uncertainty and self-torture (Zharkova, Kleytman) to comfort (Skugareva).
Alina Kleytman
Story about an Old Fat Girl. Chapter 3. Plucked Forehead, 2018
video
Commissioned by PinchukArtCentre
Maria Prymachenko
Big Quarrel, 1936 and Brown Beast, 1936
watercolour on paper
Courtesy of the National Museum of Ukrainian Decorative Folk Art
Maryna Skugareva
I'm Fine, 1996
bed, pillows, embroidery
Courtesy of the artist
Maryna Skugareva's installation I'm Feeling Good was created in 1996 for the Soros CCA in Kyiv (curator: Marta Kuzma). The work consists of a iron bed and pillows with embroidered portraits of Skuпareva's friends and relatives (her husband Oleh Tistol, her friends Mykola Matsenko and Kostiantyn Reunov), and her self-portrait. The very title contains the idea of a content domesticity, comfort and a friendly community necessary for creative work.

And yet the pillow with the artist's self-portrait placed on the iron bed evokes institutional settings and evinces discomfort, so at odds with the generally intimate atmosphere. This work manifests the ambiguities of the 1990s, when creative work was largely supported by a community of friends, consisting predominantly of men. Often posing as defenders of female artists in their group, they nevertheless obstructed their presence in the public sphere.
Maryna Skugareva
Parrot, 1992
oil on canvas, embroidery
Courtesy of the artist
Margarita Zharkova
Wing, 1984
tapestry
Courtesy of Yulia Zharkova
Kateryna Bilokur
Flowers and Nuts, 1948
oil on canvas
Courtesy of the National Museum of Ukrainian Decorative Folk Art
The room demonstrates the "external," political space women had to enter armed with slogans and posters in order to fight for equal rights and gain the privileges they have today. Voting rights or the right to education and professional fulfillment might be taken for granted now, but they came at a high price at a certain point.

The conceptual vision for the room is expressed through its architectural permutations, which establish two semantic directions. The first direction addresses March 8 as the symbol of the fight for equality, while the second highlights that, to a degree, equality came at the price of making women more masculine. The first direction starts with Oksana Pavlenko's work Long Live March 8!, depicting a group of women at a demonstration. The work reminds of the political dimension of the holiday that had turned into paternalistic congratulations from men in the latter half of the 20th century. This direction is supported by posters from the 1920s-1940s, with their slogans and calls. Most of the posters illustrate first-wave feminism, which proved a short-lived phenomenon in the USSR, coming to an end in the early 1930s. Avant-garde in form and daring in contents, the posters of the 1920s demonstrate an authentic project for women's emancipation. The posters of the mid-1930s through the 1940s, meanwhile, exploit the familiar slogans in a mere imitation of those calls to equality. This finds expression on the formal level too, with the posters becoming bleaker, more clichéd, devoid of recognizable imagery. United in one installation, they emblematize the symbolic "ruins of history," unveiling humankind's capacity for forgetting.

The second direction is established with Semen Ioffe's painting At the Rifle Range (A Rifle Club), depicting "female warriors." The painting demonstrates how women's emancipation of the 1920s-1930s proceeded. It was largely implemented by making women more masculine: women were given equal status according to all physical parameters, be it employment in the industries, participation in military or revolutionary operations, civic engagement, etc. Ioffe's work functions in dialogue with Oksana Chepelyk's video The Chronicles of Fortinbras, in which the artist, analyzing contemporary society, identifies the new patriarchal presence. In her film, Chepelyk introduces an image of an emancipated 1990s woman who has to fight for her rights again after the political and economic crises provoked by the collapse of the USSR had made society at large more markedly masculine.
Photocopies of printed posters from the 1920s-1940s
Original printed posters belong to the holdings of the V.I. Vernadskyi National Library of Ukraine
Courtesy of the V.I. Vernadskyi National Library of Ukraine

Semen Ioffe
At the Rifle Range (A Rifle Club), 1932
oil on canvas
Courtesy of the National Art Museum of Ukraine
Oksana Pavlenko
Long Live March 8! 1930–1931
tempera on canvas
Courtesy of the National Art Museum of Ukraine
Oksana Chepelyk
Chronicles of Fortinbras, 2001
digitized 35mm film, 30'
Courtesy of the Ukrainian State Studio of Documentary Films Ukrkinokhronika
Oksana Chepelyk's film The Fortinbras Chronicles is based on the essay collection by the same title by Oksana Zabuzhko, in which the writer introduced the image of Ukraine raped by foreigners. In her film, Chepelyk treated the image literally: a naked woman is a victim of protracted ruthless brutalization at the hands of two ugly dwarves embodying the masculine totalitarian essence. These scenes are intercut with fragments of historical films, early 20th century documentary chronicles and news reels from the time when the video was created.

Chepelyk's title refers to Fortinbras, a fictitious character of Shakespeare's Hamlet. He both plays a role in the events of the play and elevates them to the level of chronicles right as they unfold. In the video, Chepelyk described the situation of the late 1990s, when political and economic crisis prompted a return of archaic and patriarchal values.
Alevtina Kakhidze
44, 2018
video
director, camera, editing: Kateryna Gornostai, Nikon Romanchenko
makeup: Tetiana Maliuga
Commissioned by PinchukArtCentre

In her 44 video, Alevtina Kakhidze sought to recreate 44 different emotions a woman might feel when asked if she has children, varying from indifference to helplessness, from anger to despair, from helplessness or offence to meek resignation. The number "44" refers to the upper limit of female fertility as defined by Ukrainian reproductive medicine. In this work, the artist raises the issue of reproductive violence in contemporary Ukrainian society. Is giving birth always the woman's free choice, or is it dictated by the traditional understanding of feminine role as purely reproductive? In analyzing our society and the stereotypes current in it, as well as speculations surrounding childbirth, Kakhidze creates room for reflection on moral violence, affirming personal choices and the responsibility for them.
Oleksandr Chekmeniov
From The Victors series, 2002 – 2012
analog print on photographic paper
Courtesy of the artist
The works presented in this hall are united by the idea of Soviet monumental art, with its heyday falling on the 1960s. Ukraine had an entire cast of prominent female artists whose career in art and education was closely intertwined with monumental art. The group included Alla Horska, Ada Rybachuk, Liudmyla Semykina and Tetiana Iablonska, among others. In the Soviet era, monumental art afforded opportunities for freedom of expression: while it remained ideological in contents, its mostly utilitarian function and stylized visual language made formal experiments possible. The prominent presence of female artists in physically taxing monumental art reveals the phenomenon of totalitarian identity that did not differentiate between the female and the male.

"Humankind, and art with it, pays a high price for becoming omnipotent, and everlasting," wrote Ada Rybachuk, depicted on the large photograph in the center of the hall. The photo depicts Ada Rybachuk in a forest at the time when she was working on the Wall of Memory on Baikove Cemetery in Kyiv. The project, on which she collaborated with her husband, Volodymyr Melnychenko, took almost 20 years to complete, and was destroyed on orders from the authorities in 1982.

Zhanna Kadyrova's long-term ongoing project Second Hand, which began in 2014, reflects on and engages with Soviet monumental art. Kadyrova often uses ceramic tiles both as means of artistic expression and as a carrier of information. In her Second Hand series, the artist creates various objects reminiscent of Soviet fashion of the 1960s-1970s, using original ceramic tiles from the Kyiv Motion Picture Printing Plant, Poliska Bus Station, and Darnytsia Silk Processing Plant. These buildings were either destroyed or lost their original function. The fact that Kadyrova's objects memorialize Soviet industries and culture of the quotidian lends them new historical significance.
Zhanna Kadyrova
Second Hand. Darnytsia Silk Processing Plant, 2015
glazed tiles, photos, video
Courtesy of Galleria Continua
This part of the Second Hand project was produced at the Darnytsia Silk Processing Plant, the industrial giant of the Soviet era. The works of the series are made of old tiles lining the walls of the factory and processing plant. Kadyrova recreated the ornaments that survived on factory walls. The exposition was mounted at a weaving department of the Silk Processing Plant.

At present, the majority of buildings of the Darnytsia Silk Processing Plant are used as commercial real estate, for storage or retail. Little reminds us of the plant's past as one of the largest Soviet enterprises in consumer goods industries. Constructed in the 1970s, well after WW II, the plant produced dozens millions meters of fabric, employing approximately 6,000 persons at its three factories. Besides producing various fabrics, the plant supported strong social infrastructure, offering its employees arts and crafts clubs, sports groups, unions and libraries. It had its own greenhouse, which had blooming flowers of various species the year round. Apparently the flowers were used to encourage the employees, mostly women. This approach might seem puzzling when compared to the present-day obsession with "efficiency" and "expenditure expediency."

Addressing the ambivalent history of one of the largest productions in Kyiv, the artist highlights the many problematic aspects of the present situation. "We can see that warm and friendly interpersonal relations, as well as fine arts, were not alien to industries," Kadyrova notes. "The question is, whether these relations are lost forever, and what might come to replace them."
Zhanna Kadyrova
Second Hand. Poliska Bus Station, 2017
mannequin, glazed tiles, photos
Courtesy of Galleria Continua
The mannequin's dress was made of ceramic tiles decorating the front wall of Poliske Bus Station, Kyiv oblast. The sculpture's ornament is identical to ornaments on the bus station's wall. Poliske is a former township in the Chernobyl zone, a center of the Poliske region of the Kyiv Oblast. The township was fully evacuated in 1993 due to high background radiation. At the time of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, the township's population was 11,300 persons. The village was officially taken off registers of settlements in 1999. At present, the radiation background is back to normal; approximately 10 persons unofficially reside in the township.
Zhanna Kadyrova
Second Hand. Kyiv Motion Picture Printing Plant, 2017
glazed tiles, photos, video
Courtesy of the artist
This part of the Second Hand project explores the history of a building that housed the film-processing workshop of the Kyiv Motion Picture Printing Plant, the largest laboratory of the kind in the USSR, for 50 years. It produced copies of films for all Soviet republics excluding Russia, which had a factory of its own. The scope of the plant was predicated on territorial proximity to the town of Shostka, home to Svema factory, which produced photographic and cinema film since 1931. The prewar building was renovated in 1948 after the damages it suffered during the war. It opened as the first Kyiv Motion Picture Printing Plant in 1949. During its heyday, the plant occupied up to 13 buildings.

In the early 1990s, the complex housed Borysfen-Liutes Animation Studio founded by French investors. Several movies produced by the studio have won international awards. The studio workshops employed approximately 450 persons. Borysfen ceased to function in the early 2000s. In 2008, 10 out of 13 buildings were sold off. The Second Hand project was realized under the aegis of GogolFest2017 festival: the film-processing workshop was transformed into Ark Squat art studios for two months. After the festival ended, the building was demolished.
Artist Ada Rybachuk (1931–2010) working on the composition of Civilian Defense for the Memory Wall at the Baikove Cemetery, Kyiv, 1977
photo by Volodymyr Melnychenko
Courtesy of Volodymyr Melnychenko

The photo depicts the artist Ada Rybachuk from the time when she was working on reliefs of the Wall of Memory at Baikove Cemetery in Kyiv. She's working hands-on on elaborate iron structures for the Civic Defense composition dedicated to the women in WW II, digging trenches and installing anti-tank obstacles in Holosiiv Forest in Kyiv.

Rybachuk collaborated on the Wall of Memory with her husband, Volodymyr Melnychenko, for 13 years, from 1968, when they started to work on the first drafts for the project, until 1981, when the monument was almost completed. The order to destroy the Wall came in January 1982, when the work was almost finished.

The Wall of Memory was a massive sturdy construction of iron and concrete, 213 meters long and 4 to 16 meters high. The artists invented a unique technology inspired by Pablo Picasso specifically for the project.

This is how Volodymyr Melnychenko described the work: "Ada and I were leafing through a book about Picasso's studio we received as a gift. Among other photos, it had one of the master barefoot, in his underpants, dancing with his lady, wielding a fire stick and drawing fire figures with it. Ada asked me, 'Volodia, do you feel the shape of the objects the master is drawing with this moving fire?' I said, 'Yes, I see and feel it the way I see the shapes and lines of the streets when transport moves along them.' And Ada said to me, 'Can we draw our spatial forms in metal the way Picasso drew with fire?' And I said, 'Yes!'"
Yevgenia Belorusets
Me and Her, 2018 (reconsideration of the work first realized in 2012)
installation: books, objects
Commissioned by PinchukArtCentre
Yevgenia Belorusets' installation Me and Her is a personal revision of a work the artist created under the aegis of the Women's Workshop project organized in 2012 by an independent group The Feminist Offensive at the Center for Visual Culture. Bielorusets invited project participants to choose an object representative of their female identity and to reflect on their choice and its implications. This resulted in a collection of photographs depicting the participants and their "voices" as accompanying texts. The project mapped a supportive community that created opportunities to freely discuss the themes that were proscribed in society.

Belorusets created an eponymous book for the Room of One's Own show, reflecting on that situation and raising the question of whether such a community could emerge in the present, within the context of political changes that occurred in our society.
Yana Bystrova
Planche de Contacte, 2005
author's technique, digital print
Courtesy of the artist
Yana Bystrova's membership in the Furmanny Lane Squat in Moscow in the late 1980s, where she followed her husband, the artist Kostiantyn Reunov, and her artist friends, Maryna Skugareva and Oleh Tistol, was instrumental to her formation as an individual. Bystrova found herself in a strong creative community where she had to affirm her identity both as a woman and as an artist.

The Planche de Contacte (Contact Prints) series is autobiographical. In it, Bystrova experiments with her own body and subjects it to various deformations, ostensibly fragmenting it. The imagery emphasizes fragility, uncertainty, the loss of inner equilibrium and meditations on her place as a female artist. The work documents the instability and search for touchstones so typical of the mid-1990s, when the artist first engaged in these experiments, which remain an ongoing preoccupation of hers.
Kateryna Yermolaeva
All In One Breath, 2018
c-print, collage
Commissioned by PinchukArtCentre
In her new work, Kateryna Yermolaeva interprets the art and culture of the 1960s-1970s—a period when external self-representation and behavioral models became a mode of self-expression and a way to affirm one's individuality—through the framework of fashion. The artist paints the space in the colors of fabric popular in the USSR during the era of destalinization, when the first fashion houses emerged.

Yermolaeva, whose art practice often features transformations and developed characters, takes on the roles of women from the 1960s-1970s. Adopting elements of works by Alla Horska, Ielyzaveta Kremnytska, Margit Selska and Liudmyla Iastreb, she creates something akin to a spatial collage, developing a generalized image of independence and uncompromising honesty.
Vlada Ralko
From The Phantom of Liberty series, 2018
oil on canvas
Courtesy of the artist
The hall presents a new series of works by Vlada Ralko, entitled The Phantom of Liberty. In it, the artist depicts the interiors of empty, locked-down buildings of an abandoned Kaniv tourist lodge where she created the series. Ralko populates her paintings with anthropomorphic figures being devoured by the repressive space that subjects the bodies to strange transformations. Ralko often engages with the issue of the standardization of the human through subjugating it to a system. In the series, the standardization is imposed through the peculiar status of the feminine: "There's no denying that I approached this topic within the framework of the peculiarities of the feminine status; granted, I did not single it out, noting its importance as a signifier of the human state as such instead. I sometimes think that femininity, with its attendant special physicality, objectified status, subalterity and immanence imposed by society, is a good metaphor for marginality of the human condition as such once it dares to 'accept the offer' of the system," the artist noted in her text accompanying the series.
Oksana Kazmina's video is the linchpin of the room. In it, the artist creates a sort of wild and primeval Garden of Eden where her protagonists, a Girl and a Boy, live. Playing and trying on different roles, the children imitate adults, discover the world on the intuitive and sensual level, and experiment with sexuality for the first time. The poems from children's folklore recited by the protagonists, as well as the children's "secrets" (stashes of bric-a-brac hidden underground), appear as some of the first social constructs through which children mature and discover themselves. "The natural," remaining in conflict with "the social," appears as the sphere of the sensual and the bodily, the space of freedom and unbiased authenticity.

All the works in the room are infused with sensuality, freedom, ambiguity and unpredictability. Stripped of clichés and stereotypes, they test the social and natural boundaries of gender. They are united by the motif of play, unwittingly erotic and intuitive in Hanna Sobachko-Shostak's works, metaphorical in Anna Zviahintseva's, openly sexual in Alina Kopytsia's and bodily in Mykola Trokh's. Trokh's photograph depicts a man hiding his reproductive organs and highlighting how androgynous human nature is. As Virginia Woolf has put it, "the androgynous mind is resonant and porous; that it transmits emotion without impediment." The dialogue between the works exhibited here embodies the idea of the bodily space as possibly the only impartial site of freedom and choice.
Alina Kopytsa
Doll House, 2016
textile collage
Courtesy of the artist
Hanna Sobachko-Shostak
Radish Flower, 1912
watercolour on paper
Courtesy of the National Museum of Ukrainian Decorative Folk Art
Mykola Trokh
Untitled, early 1990s
silver gelatin print, chemical toning
Courtesy of Sergiy Lebedynskyi
Anna Zvyagintseva
The Ruler, 2018
designed ruler, drawings done with the ruler
Courtesy of the artist
Oksana Kazminа
Secret. A Girl and a Boy, 2017
video, 13' 6''
Courtesy of the Artist
Oksana Kazmina's video is the linchpin of the room. In it, the artist creates a sort of wild and primeval Garden of Eden where her protagonists, a Girl and a Boy, live. Playing and trying on different roles, the children imitate adults, discover the world on the intuitive and sensual level, and experiment with sexuality for the first time. The poems from children's folklore recited by the protagonists, as well as the children's "secrets" (stashes of bric-a-brac hidden underground), appear as some of the first social constructs through which children mature and discover themselves. "The natural," remaining in conflict with "the social," appears as the sphere of the sensual and the bodily, the space of freedom and unbiased authenticity.

All the works in the room are infused with sensuality, freedom, ambiguity and unpredictability. Stripped of clichés and stereotypes, they test the social and natural boundaries of gender. They are united by the motif of play, unwittingly erotic and intuitive in Hanna Sobachko-Shostak's works, metaphorical in Anna Zviahintseva's, openly sexual in Alina Kopytsia's and bodily in Mykola Trokh's. Trokh's photograph depicts a man hiding his reproductive organs and highlighting how androgynous human nature is. As Virginia Woolf has put it, "the androgynous mind is resonant and porous; that it transmits emotion without impediment." The dialogue between the works exhibited here embodies the idea of the bodily space as possibly the only impartial site of freedom and choice.
Photos are open for usage by mass media.
When using photos, please, note copyright information.
Photographs provided by the PinchukArtCentre © 2018. Photographed by Maksym Bilousov.

Vernissage

Photos are open for usage by mass media.
When using photos, please, note copyright information.
Photographs provided by the PinchukArtCentre © 2018. Photographed by Alexander Pilyugin.
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