Why there will be women artists in Lviv (texts from exhibition)

All texts from the “Why will there be artists in Lviv?”, which you can see (or not see) at the exhibition.

Curators text:

The exhibition you are about to enter consists of dialogues between women artists, most of whom have only recently met, and some of whom had had no prior awareness of each other.
In selecting the theme and the title for our exhibition, we appealed to Linda Nochlin. It therefore stands to reason that our curator statement will mention other important figures, such as Harald Szeemann and the exhibition “When Attitudes Become Form,” as well as the curating practices of Viktor Misiano, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Walter Hopps.
Why the 1969 exhibition “When Attitudes Become Form”? Firstly, as our starting point, we take interaction, relationships, dialogue as fundamental forms. Secondly, that exhibition is widely seen as the start of the practice of curatorship as such. Thirdly, 98 percent of that exhibition’s participants were men, with the women making up only two per cent!
The next point I would like to draw attention to is the curating practices of Viktor Misiano, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Walter Hopps. Socioculturally, Viktor Misiano’s text “Circle” is important.
I think, an attempt to create a milieu, a “circle” around this exhibition is one of the important vectors of our work. That is exactly how we will answer the question of whether Lviv will have women artists.
How can we do this? At the moment, we have seven dialogues, and each artist has roughly one cubic meter of the gallery’s space. Why not let them “pass the baton” throughout the exhibition, such that every artist can change the dialogue between the works on the walls, incorporating another author of her choosing? The exhibition will thus be in constant flux.
We offer our participants a joint honorarium. How they will divide it among themselves, and whether they will share it with new participants, hold on to it for a future exhibition, or donate it to charity, will be only up to them.
Katarzyna Kozyra’s participation here is not accidental. She is our only international participant, and whether or not she will “pass” her segment of the gallery to another artist is anyone’s guess.

Pavlo Kovach
co-curator of the Lviv Municipal Arts Center

“All about, I hear the growing noise of the witches’ dance, they are ever more each day, their dresses in every colour of the rainbow. The city I had known before, is no more – a young fairy now dances her macabre dance here, thus kindling the fire of a new day. There is but one salvation – to invite witches even more powerful”.
(Johann Bernhard von Sonnenstern, “Introduction to the Life of the City,” 1433)
So often we hear artists tell a tale of pain, of working through something terrifying, dark and moist, of their experience of this struggle, living that experience and rising above it, creating a new identity or whatever it may be called. But after a thousand attempts it becomes clear that art is not the best companion if the goal is to reduce the pressure, the weariness of yesterday’s questions. Art can but multiply them. We become saddened, bored, everything melts in an autumnal fog of male tears. It becomes clear that these wet clouds can only be cleared away by hot gusts of anger. Today we borrow it from these women artists, to return it to them later.
I would now like to say a few words about the location where we are presenting our exhibition, entitled “Why Lviv Will Have Women Artists.” In January, 1930 a small museum dedicated to famous Polish women opened in the Sapieha house at No. 11, Stefanyka St., following the initiative of Eleonora Lubomirska. This museum was short-lived, but managed to capture something significant that today allows us to speak of genius loci. We are exhibiting the art of fourteen artists, to whom we suggested that they form seven dialogues. We should not here, that the selection of artists was fairly subjective, and fully subordinate to the cold and emotionless prerogative of the curators’ gesture. As co-curators, we both take on this responsibility, and dilute it by introducing the possibility of any artist delegating her place to any other artists, male or female, of her choice. Personally, I see this as a very important element of play in the situation.
As it turned out in the process of preparing the project, some of the artists weren’t even aware of each other’s existence. Some are very widely known in narrow circles; some have a rich international exhibition history, but remain unknown here in Ukraine; some enjoy name recognition, but nobody actually knows who they are; some have slowly begun to slip into oblivion, though this shouldn’t be the case; and then there are the “new and wild ones,” of whom little is known. How do we discover this art, where can we see it? Where, after all, could we sit down and talk about how it came about that we aren’t aware of each other, haven’t heard or seen each other? Today at the Lviv Municipal Arts Center we open not just an exhibition of art by a number of women, we begin a conversation about who they are and why we should see their art.

Oleh Suslenko
co-curator of the Lviv Municipal Arts Center


Vlada Ralko
Sunday Dinner
When we were children, the adults would say “When you finish eating, you’ll see what’s painted on your plate.” Today the tradition of the Sunday dinner – when “special occasion” dinnerware, normally showcased as a family heirloom, would come out of the cupboard – is far from universal. In my work I continue to explore the kitchen as a certain manifestation of something that, in Christian culture, is always partially hidden – whether as “dirty” and “indecent” or as sacred. I built a row of pictures and lined them up in a particular order, taking into account both the pairing of large and small plates, and the duality of existence, cleft into “high” and “low” (as well as the duality the curators put into the general concept of the exposition). My work is also one of the stages of developing the theme of ritual, which I became very interested in during the 2016 “Ceremony” exhibition. Coming back to “Sunday Dinner,” it could be said that I look into the weekly recreation of the ritual of consuming “special” food as a historical family landscape, where every sacred place is marked by a particular picture*. It is worth remembering that a place of this kind could be both an elevation (including – ad rem (sic!) – a pubic mound), and a trench. Every ritual action, usually performed thoughtlessly, is a bodily reminder. This is why I chose well-known gold rimmed plates, whose purpose and use is food consumption, not decoration or, God forbid, an art object. *Images on the plates: photographs I took in the kitchen of a fancy restaurant in Kaniv, in the meat rows of the Zhytnii Market in Kyiv, in the Johann Georg Pinsel Sculture Museum and the Lviv National Museum, as well as fragments of reproductions of the 1957 Soviet book “Polish Cuisine.”

Alina Kleitman
Photography by Andrii Boiko

Alina Sokolova
The “Leisure as labor activity” series relies on the study of everyday practices of free time, on leasure as a mechanism of political intervention. I observed the kinds of activities that were unconsciously introduced by certain systems in various ways. The gymnastics human pyramids in the Soviet Union, athletic practices as the definition of “correct leisure” – or perhaps the imitation of various dance moves on TikTok among teenagers during a pandemic as a “necessary broadcasting of oneself”. This light moment of involuntary participation, when action becomes another kind of labor, but now on one’s own time.

Anastasiia Rudnieva — Kseniia Hnylytska
Alternative Womanhood in History
We know that women feature in world history. But prior to the appearance of self-sufficient figures, such as Marie Curie, Mary Shelley and the like – whom we begin to encounter only since the Enlightenment, i. e. in the past several centuries – women mostly feature as hereditary monarchs or other secondary historical figures, who are, moreover, forced to resort to manipulation to achieve their goals and defend their interests. An alternative history would be one in which, over the longest time, the woman was not objectified as “the other sex” in a patriarchal world, but rather possessed the same liberties and status as men. The project uses portraits of contemporaries of certain professions and references their origins while honoring their names.


Kinder Album
In my conversation with Katia Liebkind we sought points of contact between our artistic practices. We found them specifically in this combination: my sculptures and Katia’s audio and video stories. We are both interested in themes of physicality, modern art and the absurd. We both wish to know the answer to the question of why the exhibit was titled as it was, and what the curators thinking was. At least three of our works in this exhibit are dedicated to seeking an answer to this question. The rest are a multimedia dialogue between us that, we hope, will provide the viewer with a cursory acquaintance with our art, and encourage her to seek out more information about us on the internet.

Katia Liebkind
“Spring or Summer 1996”.
A video after Kinder Album’s sculpture “The Unknown Woman”. Here Katia Liebkind speaks about herself and her first erotic drawings.
January 2, 2020”.
A video featuring Kinder Album’s sculpture “Elizabeth II”
“May 22, 2020” (audio shark)
“November 1, 2020” (audio artist)

Vika Dovhadze — AntiGonna
Monstrosity / THE GROTESQUE / HYBRIDIZATION THE GROTESQUE BODY: as biological entity, as psychological, sexual construct, cultural product and “otherness”, anarchic organ that supersedes all cultural principles. The deformity of bodies, the separation of certain parts, replacing own parts to somebody else’s. This project is an inquiry, a study of the connection between monstrosity and femininity. The body becomes an element of public punishment, an organ that undergoes manipulations and formations. The grotesque is a unique genre that pertains to the consequences of the human condition of self-alienation. It is characterized by ugliness, horror, senselessness, peculiarity, extremeness and delirium. The grotesque is most consistently characterized by a fundamental sense of disharmony. The grotesque is usually seen as a form of disfiguring the “real” or the commonplace world, and always leads to deviation from preferred norms of harmony, balance and proportion. In this vein the grotesque can be used as a means of provocation, because it both repels and runs into its viewer, with its imperfections, which can, of course, be used as a powerful dramatic tool.

Antonina Denisiuc
I have created 28 watercolors, of 18×24 cm size, in Lviv on the basis of the Yahoo news platform. From February 2, 2020,until June 18, 2020, the works were regularly published in the Instagram social network  (@denisiucantonina) in order to understand the transnational, transcultural and transidentical experiences of others.
The ART DAILYNEWS series provided an image of the world, taking into account a realistic and documentary process, that reflects the influence of current information and media, including online news. That is, I considered it necessary in my art to appeal to the reactions of the time in which we live.
It is no secret, that things viral  have been the cultural panacea of recent years. Viral information, viral ideology – everyone wanted to infect others with their viral trends. Thus, the virus has become the conduit of modern globalism.The COVID-19 virus has structurally changed the conversational face of the planet. I hope this can be partly traced in my series of works ARTDAILYNEWS, the purpose of which was not to produce objects, but rather create tangible evidence of daily events.
I am grateful to my son Ivan Denysiuk for inspiring the idea and to Anna Sidorenko., A dialogue was made in a 28×28 format between her work “Phases of the Moon” and the CORONA PARTY, which is presented by me.


Katarzyna Kozyra
Tribute to Gloria Viagra’s Birthday Party From the cycle In Art Dreams Come True
1 channel video, 2006
Tribute to Gloria Viagra’s Birthday Party is a documentary footage of Kozyra’s daring performance carried out to celebrate the birthday of drag queen Gloria Viagra at Berlin’s Big Eden club. Kozyra made an appearance as a surprise-girl and acted Gloria’s lookalike, which was not a matter of chance, since it was the Berlin-based drag queen that had become Kozyra’s teacher and mentor of ‘true womanhood’ in the cycle In Art Dreams Come True. Dressed like Gloria, wearing stage make-up and a wig, Kozyra sings a song by Robbie Williams, performing at the same time a symbolic striptease, which sees its culmination when she tears off her artificial penis and sticks it in her purse. Complementing her series of works which address art as a way to make dreams come true, the artist’s show acquires the character of a double homage. On the one hand, to her teacher of the art of being a real woman, while on the other – to the urge to redefine and transgress gender-related borders. References: Katarzyna Kozyra, Casting, exhibition catalogue, M. Sitkowska, H. Wróblewska (eds.), Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw 2010.

Kateryna Yermolaeva 
(as yet untitled)
This project is an attempt to right the historical wrong, occasioned by the social status of the woman in a society where the privilege of defining their destiny mostly belonged to men, as Linda Nochlin has it in her essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”
In the 20th century, efforts of several heroic men forced humanity to change its view of what art is, and gave it the impulse for incredibly rapid development. But what if women had not been forced to squander their energy in the fight for self-determination, trying to break through the monolith of traditional order? What if women had been able to use their creative potential not towards self-determination, but towards creativity itself – exploring and creating freely, unencumbered by exhausting daily struggle?
What if a woman found herself in place of the heroes of the history of art, equipped with the same tools and possessing the same freedom?Photography, video.

Anna Sydorenko
“The Penumbra asked the Shadow, saying: — Formerly you were walking on, and now you have stopped; formerly you were sitting, and now you have risen up – how is it that you are so without stability? The Shadow replied: — I wait for the movements of something else to do what I do, and that something else on which I wait, waits further on another to do as it does. My waiting, is it for the scales of a snake, or the wings of a cicada? How should I know why I do one thing, or do not do another?”
The Moon has forever drawn the attention of scholars, thinkers and casual observers of the night sky, who, even today, continue to search it for hidden symbols. This cosmic body is still closely and thoroughly studied, but the Moon is in no hurry to divulge its secrets. The full lunar cycle lasts approximately 28 days, which is why it is difficult not to draw the analogy with the woman’s menstrual cycle. Both of those cycles are unconstant and dependent on numerous factors. Every phase of the Moon is ascribed psychological influence on people. Similarly, stages of the woman’s menstrual cycle can variously affect her well-being, decisions and moods. Notably, the very term “menstruation” (the Latin “menstruus” means “monthly”) includes the word “mensis,” which means (calendar) “month,” as well as referring to the Earth’s satellite. This connection permeates the narrative of the “Phases of the Moon,” a photo performance by Anna Sydorenko. In this work we see the author play the role of the synodic month and recreate the step-by-step transition from new moon to full moon. The juxtaposition of this process with the menstrual cycle affords us an intuitive glimpse into the complexity of the monthly change in the woman’s body, which stands in contrast to the seemingly static, even tranquil, face. Thus, the author’s face functions as an allegorical medium between the physical, the cosmic, and even the metaphysical worlds, and becomes a canvas for self-exploratory artistic comparisons. Contemplation of the moon surreptitiously disposes the viewer to submit to its hypnotic influence. In meditating this way, one can become entrained into libration and feel the atmosphere of the process shown on the photographs. This brings to mind the dark side of the Moon that is unseen to the human eye. The intractability of that side is the most open to fantasy interpretations and musings. We should point out that the accepted terminology – “dark side of the Moon” is inaccurate, as the Sun illuminates that side no less than the side we see. What is the level of illumination of these mysteries behind the veil precisely now, or on any given day – bright, semi-shaded, completely dark? The woman answers this question to herself and to the world every day.
*libration is the slow, periodic wavering of the Moon.
Text by Sophia Korotkevych

The curated project “Why Lviv Will Have Women Artists” was intended as a series of dialogues. My interlocutor is Anna Zviahintseva. In order for a dialogue to take place, one must have an idea of one’s vis-à-vis. I had a slight upper hand here, I was familiar with some of Ania’s creations, had already had some interest in her work. Anna is subtle, her statements are clear and laconic, which I like. I don’t know what the criteria were for selecting authors’ pairings, but I had the sense that Anna was “my kind of artist.” For many years I’ve worked in a different role, as a curator. For various reasons, my creative path changed, which is why it would have been difficult for Ania to have any familiarity with my works. My initial reaction to the offer to participate in this project was an emphatic “no.” But eventually curiosity got the better of me… The work that represents me in this exhibition is not new. This is an idea from 1996, originally created for the “CONVERT” project (but ultimately a different work had been chosen and “Phases of the Moon” remained unrealized. Was this a chance to look at myself as an artist many years later? Or from the point of view of a curator? This is where the work began. What followed was revision of my own works, putting them in order, and delving into my own emotions from 1996, as a comparison to what concerns me today. The “Phases of the Moon” are phases of me through many years, the layers of time and what time leaves behind in memory. I might add that our dialogue was the result of my rethinking my own ego, with my place in the trajectory of the here and now.

Anna Zviahintseva
A Statement of Intent and Doubt
Duration: 7 minutes 15 seconds
Three-channel video installation
The floor cleaning in this work is “raw material from life.” An ordinary, routine, unnoticed gesture, whose outcome immediately vanishes, thus making it necessary to begin anew. The trace of a cleaning rag is a line that draws, but we will not see the final drawing in the end. 
The ray and the performer speak to the process of revealing “power management”, the resistance to it, and the importance of doubt. I wanted to show the thinking process itself, the “thought that draws.”