‘Stand with Ukraine in this challenging time’

Pavlo Makov, representative of Ukraine at the 2022 Venice Biennale. Courtesy the Ukrainian Pavilion.

The organisers of the Ukrainian pavilion in Venice call for solidarity amidst Russian invasion

The team behind the Ukrainian Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale have suspended preparations for the international exhibition and called for international solidarity following the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces on Thursday. In a statement published on Instagram, artist Pavlo Makov and curators Lizaveta German, Maira Lanko and Borys Filonenko, said ‘our lives, the lives of our beloved ones as well as everything we stand for – peace, freedom, democracy, culture – have been endangered… Presently, we are not able to continue working on the project of the pavilion due to the danger to our lives.’

‘We are determined to represent Ukraine at the 59th Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, but not everything depends on us,’ they continue, adding that all international flights from and into the country have been cancelled. Artist Pavlo Makov has been working for the past five months on a recreation of his 1995 installation The Fountain of Exhaustion for the biennale, which was slated to be shipped to Italy in two weeks. ‘If the situation changes, and it is safe to continue our work and travel,’ they offer with hope, ‘we will be in Venice’ (the biennale runs 23 April – 27 November).

The statement finishes on a call for international solidarity, asking the artistic community to ‘use all our impact in order to stop the Russian invasion of Ukraine’. ‘This war is a clash of civilizations… If we continue being passive observers of the situation, we will lose everything we work for and all the heritage of our predecessors – art, love, freedom of expression and the ability to create.’

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been escalating since Russia’s annexing of Crimea in 2014, a territory internationally recognised as part of Ukraine. The Russian invasion on Thursday came through Belarus, Crimea and Russian borders and bombing have since last night reached Kiev, the capital. Many from the Ukranian artworld have exhorted artists and art professionals internationally to take a stand in this political crisis. In an interview with Deutsche Welle published before the invasion, writer Andrei Kurkov said: ‘What I miss is a clear positioning of the leading artists from other countries of the world. Where are the voices of artists from France, Germany, the US? It is up to the artists to shake up their governments.’

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