Kiev Biennale Curators Surprised by Cancellation Insist on Holding the Show in Face of Violence

Curators of the 2nd Kiev Biennale Hedwig Saxenhuber and Georg Schöllhammer Photo: via Vienna Art fair

The second Kiev Biennale might not be cancelled after all. In a statement sent to artnet News, the biennale’s curators Hedwig Saxenhuber and Georg Schöllhammer have announced that the 2nd Kiev Biennale will take place in 2015 despite the withdrawal of Mystetskyi Arsenal, which was supposed to serve as key organizer and main venue (see Kiev Biennale Cancelled Due to Concerns over Violence in the Ukraine).

A statement posted on the website of Mystetskyi Arsenal earlier this week explained that “due to the fact that the armed conflict in the East of Ukraine does not stop,” it was deemed “absolutely impossible” to hold the biennale.

But the curators claim that the Arsenal’s decision to cancel the 2015 exhibition, titled “The School of Kiev,” was unilateral and “taken without any warning.”

The curators and other organisers were completely taken by surprise. The project involves artists, intellectuals, civil society initiatives, and international institutions, joined by their efforts to create in the face of violence and conflict (see also Christian Monk Grigorios Sinaite Fights Intolerance with Art at St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai and Tamara Chalabi on ISIS Destruction, the Ruya Foundation, and Commissioning the Iraqi Pavilion at the Venice Biennale).

Stressing the need for art in times of war, the curators argue against the organizer’s withdrawal: “The fundamental role of art as a reflexive instrument is to challenge the present political context defined by the armed conflict in Ukraine.”

A press conference will be held in Kiev in April, where more details about the event’s venue and dates, as well as collaborators and participants, will be announced.

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