26 October 2016
On Monday, November 7, at 6 PM, IZOLYATSIA presents the Endless Celebration, a temporary installation by Iranian artist Mahmoud Bakhshi at the former site of the Lenin’s monument on Taras Shevchenko Boulevard in Kyiv. On Tuesday, November 8, at 7 PM, an artist talk will be held at the IZONE creative community. The installation is part of the Social Contract project that started in June 2016.
Social Contract is a project by IZOLYATSIA (curator Kateryna Filyuk) aimed at creating a discussion platform for art community, society and authorities on the status and functions of commemorative objects in public space, using the case of the Lenin statue in Kyiv as an example. The destruction of the statue of Lenin in Kyiv in December 2013 triggered the symbolic Leninfall around the country, calling into action a controversial set of laws on Decommunisation to a broad polemic in Ukrainian society.
The Endless Celebration by Mahmoud Bakhshi is a subjective ironical comment made by the artist on this particular historical moment that culminated in the radical action of removing the monument. In his previous works and projects, Bakhshi often looked at a role of a public monument as advertising for new ideas. The artist developed this project as an attempt to visually articulate the historical choice made by the Ukrainians when they removed the Lenin monument from its place. Mahmoud Bakhshi chose the changing colours of a traffic light to signpost the impossibility to go back to the past as red and the new possible directions as green and yellow. Three face images carefully selected by the artist are Lenin, Virgin Mary and pop-singer Madonna. Presumably, they embody three essential pillars of society, namely ideology, religion and economy. At all times, depending on the goals to be achieved, propaganda repeatedly instrumentalised certain images, just like the Soviet propaganda had idolised Lenin or capitalism worships money and success manifested by Madonna. On top of that, Mahmoud Bakhshi resorts to the neon as a medium that has a long history of employment in commercial advertisement and specifically tags neoliberal values, aspired by the Ukrainian society. Each idol seems to address the audiences with the simple call “buy me”.
The date of the opening intentionally coincides with the celebration of the Great October Revolution which since not so long ago is doomed to oblivion in contemporary Ukraine. Commemoration of certain historical events as well as common flower-laying ceremony is another quite direct instrument of propaganda. In this respect, Endless Celebration inauguration is an act of non-celebration, liberation from the burden of Soviet propaganda and a way to try to desacralize the site once again.
The Social Contract project by IZOLYATSIA began in June 2016 and included an exhibition, public programme, and a temporary artistic intervention by Cynthia Gutierrez Inhabiting Shadows. The Mexican artist built a scaffolding staircase allowing everyone to climb the pedestal where the Soviet leader once stood. The installation by Cynthia Gutierrez provoked a public debate, stimulating a discussion on the status of the existing commemorative objects as well as the perspectives and mechanisms for creating new ones. Given the relevance of these topics, the Social Contract project will continue in 2017 with an ongoing research and creation of several temporary installations in cities around Ukraine.
Project curators: Kateryna Filyuk
Artist: Mahmoud Bakhshi
Opening: November 7, 2016, 6 PM
Duration: November 7-21, 2016
Address: Kyiv, 1 Taras Shevchenko Boulevard
The artist talk will be held at 8 Naberezhno-Luhova.
Supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the Department for Culture of the Kyiv City State Administration
In collaboration with narrative projects, London
The project is realised with the kind support of Mr Bertrand Coste.