Second edition of Kiev Art Biennale cancelled due to political instability


National Art and Cultural Museum Complex Mystetskyi Arsenal, Kiev. Image Courtesy Mystetskyi Arsenal.

The National Art and Cultural Museum Complex Mystetskyi Arsenal, which is both the initiator and organiser of the Kiev Biennale, announced the cancellation of its second edition.

Originally scheduled to open in 2014, the Biennale opening had been postponed to 2015 by its curators Georg Schöllhammer and Hedwig Saxenhuber, due to the protests that were agitating the capital at the time. A year after the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the violence is still escalating between pro-Moscow separatists and the Ukrainian army, making it a hostile environment for the Biennale. In their statement, the Mystetskyi Arsenal said that, as a state institution, they could not ‘take the international responsibilities concerning the insurance and transportation of art works [nor] guarantee the safety of the participants of the Biennale’. 

UPDATE: In a statement sent to artnet, Kiev Biennale curators Hedwig Saxenhuber and Georg Schöllhammer announced their plan to go through with the second edition of the biennale, titled The School of Kiev. Saxenhuber and Schöllhammer say the decision to cancel the exhibition was taken unilaterally by the organisers and venue Mystetskyi Arsenal, and wasn't theirs to take.

The curators, joined by artists, intellectuals, civil society initiatives, and international institutions involved in the project, stress the importance of artistic expression in the face of violence, as a way to ‘challenge the present political context defined by the armed conflict in Ukraine’. Details on the exhibition dates and venues will be announced at a press conference in April 2015.  

24 March 2015.