Kyiv Biennial 2023

Kyiv Biennial 2023 in Kyiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Uzhhorod (Ukraine), Vienna, Warsaw, and Berlin

Curated by Visual Culture Research Center (Kyiv, Ukraine)
From October 5th, 2023 to 2024

Against the Logic of War: The Kyiv Biennial will begin in October 2023

The fifth edition of Kyiv Biennial will be international and will take place in Kyiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Uzhhorod, Vienna, Warsaw and Berlin.

In view of the brutal Russian attack on Ukraine, a comprehensive biennial project in Kyiv long seemed deeply uncertain, if not impossible. But, with a cascade of openings – starting in Kyiv and Vienna in October 2023, finishing in Berlin in 2024 – the fifth Kyiv Biennial will take place. This Biennial edition is conceived as a European event, with dispersed exhibitions and public programs in a number of Ukrainian and EU cities, and realized in partnership with leading European institutions in the field of contemporary art.

How can a country at war address political, social, cultural and societal issues? Today, the experience of artists and cultural workers in Ukraine is profoundly marked by war trauma, displacement, lack of access to basic resources and, in many cases, direct involvement in armed resistance or the experience of life under military occupation. This poses existential challenges for the future of art and cultural production in Ukraine.

Europe-wide solidarity commitment of various art institutions.

Instead of abandoning the project and thus submitting to the logic of war that attacks everything civil, the 2023 Biennial draws upon its founding idea: that of being a multi-centric initiative in a European, interconnected and solidary form.– said the organizers of the Kyiv Visual Culture Research Center and the curators of the main exhibition, Serge Klymko, Hedwig Saxenhuber and Georg Schöllhammer, who had to plan the concept and format of the Biennial on short notice and anew.

Art institutions in Ukraine (in Kyiv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Uzhhorod) organize presentations and events in their endangered yet working infrastructures. Despite the late start of planning due to the war, museums and exhibition halls in Vienna (the main exhibition spot), Warsaw and Berlin, together with venues in other European cities, have freed up their spaces and platforms for exhibitions and events with Ukrainian and international artists as well as for discursive, performative and educational activities. Together, the institutions have formed a curatorial consortium to jointly create a conceptual framework within which they develop their respective Kyiv Biennial programs.

Bridge between European and Ukrainian artistic communities – towards an emancipatory future

The Kyiv Biennial 2023 is aware of the special challenges of the project. Its intention is to reintegrate the Ukrainian artistic community, divided by the war and scattered all over Europe, and to enable its actors to work and reflect together with international colleagues on the cultural, social and environmental challenges Ukraine is currently facing, while at the same time creating images and scenarios for an open and emancipatory future of the country and its cultural field in a global context.
The Kyiv Biennial strategy, developed in the course of its four previous editions, merges artistic production, critical knowledge and social engagement in the times of emergency, where curatorship goes far beyond its contemporary meaning of an artistic and organizational practice and becomes resignified with its original sense of restoration, rehabilitation and relief, thus suggesting not a biennial, but a perennial long-run international project, a “Kyiv Perennial.”

Kyiv Biennial 2023 is conceived and organized by the Visual Culture Research Center (Kyiv) together with (Vienna), (Bratislava, Budapest, Bucharest, Cluj, Iași, Prague and Vienna), Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Museum Crisis Center (Lviv), Other Edges, Dovzhenko Centre (Kyiv), Asortymentna Kimnata (Ivano-Frankivsk) and Sorry, No Rooms Available (Uzhhorod).