INTERVIEW with curators of Dzherelo Pump Room
After the Chernobyl disaster, Kyiv addressed the issue of drinking water quality. The city began to create a network of pump rooms. Pump room "Dzherelo" became one of the first. Water was supplied to it from an artesian well under the Kyivproekt building. In the 1990s, the pump room worked intermittently, in the 2000s it was closed, and the windows were boarded up. At the moment "Dzherelo" works as a public art space.
We talked to curators Dana Kosmina, Alina Kleytman and Nikita Kadan about the project and how this space works.
After the Chernobyl disaster, Kyiv addressed the issue of drinking water quality. The city began to create a network of pump rooms. Pump room "Dzherelo" became one of the first. Water was supplied to it from an artesian well under the Kyivproekt building. In the 1990s, the pump room worked intermittently, in the 2000s it was closed, and the windows were boarded up.
In this state, the pump room stood for almost 20 years before it was found by the curators of the project.
Now project "Pavilion Dzherelo: Bodies in the City" activates public discussion on the ecology of human existence in the city through a long-term exhibition and public programs, and invites the widest audience 24/7 in the heart of the capital with the latest approach to overcoming quarantine restrictions for cultural activities.
We asked curators Dana Kosmina, Alina Kleytman and Nikita Kadan about the project and how this space works.
Curators, group "Сира нора": Alina Kleytman, Nikita Kadan, Bohdana Kosmina
Reclaiming industrial spaces has been a trend for quite some time: why is this a pivotal moment for Kyiv's art scene?
Here are not any long-term artistic initiatives in Kyiv of the demonstration of contemporary art in public space.
The point is in access to art. Usually, the audience has to make an extra effort and come directly to the art institutions, and thus the size of the audience increases very slowly. Classical institutions suffered special losses during the pandemic, and the audience was limited in direct interaction with the work of art. Our project has aimed to introduce interaction with art in the everyday practice of modern citizens and guests of the capital.
Dzherelo for us is like some kind of exhibitionism because art directly attacks the attention of people passing by.
How does former architecture play a role in the project?
Architecture plays a big role because it's the space where the project was born to fill the old walls of the building.
The Dzherelo building itself is a rather rare example of 1990's architecture, a kind of "phantom" in the centre city, which just existed and occupied a place in public space. But at the same time, this is the building which people see every day for 20 years and it attracts the attention of citizens. So, now passing by the building, even a passerby can become a visitor to the exhibition. Shevchenkivskyi district is home to 220,000 people, who are potential visitors to the exhibition.
The building is equipped with large windows, and they work as “showcases”. This creates conditions for demonstration of the project around the clock, and increases opportunities for spectators to see an exhibition of contemporary art at a time convenient for them. During quarantine restrictions, the space will also be able to work, since spectators will not necessarily need to go inside. While walking around the city, people will be able to approach and examine objects in the protective cocoon of the Dzherelo pump room.
Opening of the exhibition "All is against you"
Who are your residents? Can you tell us a little more about works and authors?
Each exhibition was built on a combination of works by Ukrainian and European artists. Each of them focus on four problem areas in the city.
Our first exhibition “Blood from eyes” was about the visual ecology of the modern city in its connection with other environmental aspects of survival in it. Aurelie Bayad (Belgium) and MNPL (Ukraine) presented their works. For example, in work “In Double Trouble” the MNPL creative team looks at an environment that is filled with many chaotic elements that are perceived as visual noise and try to imagine a world without space and left only the objects. It was an interesting experiment that showed how much public trash like advertising, random constructions we have.
Second exhibition “All is against us” was about violence, coercion, surveillance and protest, which turned the city into a battlefield. The works Belarusion Serhiy Shabokhin and Ukrainian Nikolai Karabinovych demonstrate the complex relationship between government violence, grassroots violence-in-response, nonviolent protest and forms of government pressure that appear to be peaceful. Of course, the stories are told in terms of the rallies we know in Belarus and Ukraine.
The next - “To die in Labour” - about overwork and constant updating of forms of operations. The works of Maria Lukachova from the Czech Republic and Taras Kamenny from Ukraine are connected with modern models of dissolving life at work, but also contain paradoxical recipes for escaping from its totality, ie "anti-productive" self-preservation.
Gender policies of self-representation and coexistence in a common urban space was discussed in the last exhibition “Autumn of binarity”. Ukrainian performer Panda Volkova is considering learning and accepting female sexuality and Polish author Jan Matisek dive into the topic about human binarity and facets of human gender.
After finishing the project, everyone will be able to watch the video on our website. So, if you missed some exhibition, soon you will have the opportunity to see the works that you want.
Exhibition "To die in the labour", Work of Taras Kamennyi
Exhibion "Blood from eyes", MNPL
Exhibition “Autumn of binaries”, Jan Matisek “Wet dreams of Levifian”
The project is supported by the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation and the Department of Culture of the Kyiv City State Administration. The project partners also became the literary cafe "Harms" and the music group "Biorhythm".
Image on top: Panda Volkova, "Sunny and God's Grace", exhibition "Autumn of Binary"