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Correspondent 29

Old Kyiv Arsenal Explodes into the Modern Art Spotlight

by Paul Miazga

In recent weeks, Kyiv’s elite art community helped open the Eidos International Charity Foundation “Self-defense” exhibition staged at the old Kyiv Arsenal. The event, which bathed the vaulted interior of this centuries-old landmark in flame, black light and water, gave the city something to talk about for a while rather than the stale political news coming from Bankova. Good thing, too.

As politicians bicker over the future of the country, Ukrainian artists from far and wide took part in giving expression to Ukraine in completely different forms. While it’s doubtful many of the exhibits on display at the Arsenal since May 18 will ever make it into permanent collections anywhere, I for one was happy to see a different side of the country emerge in this beautiful, time-worn building. I like to think that the creative thinking exhibited at the Arsenal means that, in the not-too-distant future, we’ll soon see the fruits of the artists’ labors expressed to the broader public in a society that’s in desperate for new national symbols to cling to. Ukraine needs an image makeover in the worst way possible and it all starts with taking old forms, buildings, ideas and the rest and giving them a complete facelift.

Meanwhile, and as a backdrop to the whole “Self-defense” exhibition, Kyiv has played host to a series of photographic exhibitions for the past month and will continue to do so for the next few weeks. In addition to the likes of Igor Gaidai, whose playfully erotic scenes easily capture attention, city galleries will offer up views from the likes of local journalists, fashion photographers, some international artists and even stark amateurs whose simple desire is to show a different Ukraine than the one normally portrayed in the local media. At least one former colleague, Natalia Kravchuk of Korrespondent magazine, is taking part in the exhibition, with her sense of life in Kyiv from the eyes of city schoolchildren and youth.

Look for more information about the ongoing photo festival in most any major (or minor) art gallery, or look for more information in some of the city’s leading entertainment publications.

Hot weather, but try finding a beach to enjoy it!

Kyiv’s beach club owners need to get with the times. Whether by city order or simple lack of entrepreneurship, not one single beach club owner in the city over the last two weeks of scorching temperatures has opened the doors of his club to allow in the desperate, beach-going public. I just don’t understand this. Even if there is some silly city ordnance that forces club owners to keep shut until June 1 or whenever, they have to consider what’s right and open up anyway. Step out! Be original! Do the right thing!

Instead, with the sun baking the city under +30C temperatures for the last two weekends, most city residents have been forced to either go to the edges of the city to find a clean spot on a typically litter-strewn stretch of city beach to worship the sun or abandon the pursuit altogether. Ridiculous!

These club owners should appreciate the gravity of the situation and reach out to the masses rather than just abandoning them. The city hasn’t bothered to improve city beaches for years, which makes it all the more imperative that private entrepreneurs step in to give the city a much-needed PR boost just as tourism season begins. It’s as good for them as it is for the whole city. Sadly, few if any of the right people seem to understand the potential for good in this. Pity.


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