Ukraine has participated in the Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art since 2001. And each time the process of deciding on the national representation is accompanied by scandals, which, of course, negatively affect the image of the country in the world. The lack of a clear selection criteria, a non-transparent procedure of the selection of the Curator/Project, ignorance of the notion of the Commissioner as an authorised person from a government institution, an indefinite source of funding and no unified rules for artists inflicts the system of "manual" management and jeopardises Ukraine's participation in the exhibition in general.
The Ministry of Culture of Ukraine acts within the framework of the Regulation for national participants in the Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art and agrees to its rules and requirements. (https://static.labiennale.org/files/arte/Documenti/58eia-nat-part-en.pdf).
What is the preparation procedure for Ukraine’s participation in Venice Biennale?
In 2014, the team of the Minister of Culture Yevhen Nishchuk stabilised the issue of the availability of a pavilion for Ukraine. The team initiated amendments to the CMU Resolution No. 117 of April 23, 2014 "On the Prepayment of Goods, Works and Services Procured for Budgetary Funds." This resolution made possible two times (in 2016 and 2018), one year prior the event, to find and pay a lease of a pavilion in Venice to represent Ukraine, as it is done in the civilised world.
In 2016, the team of Minister Yevhen Nishchuk standardised the preparation procedure for Ukraine's participation in the Venice Biennale. This was done for the establishment and regulation of unified and transparent requirements for the selection procedure of the Curator. The key issue in this context is the continuity of the procedure, its irreversibility and non-interference. The "Procedure for selecting the Curator of the National Project for the Representation of Ukraine at the Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art" was elaborated and approved (from 04.07.2016, No. 498, registered with the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine on July 25, 2016 under No. 1032/29162). This decision was preceded by expert discussions, in particular, on the basis of the RPD on the model of organisation of Ukrainian national pavilions at the Venice Biennale.
How was the Competition Committee of the Curator of the National Project formed?
In 2018, the team of Minister Yevhen Nyshchuk made possible for Ukraine to be represented at the 58th Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art in the Main Location — Arsenale.
The procedure regulates the mechanism of forming a Competitive Committee for the selection of the Curator of the National Pavilion to represent Ukraine at the Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art and organises its work. According to the procedure, the of information about the participants, their projects and detailed descriptions and calculations, that have expressed a desire to be part of the Competition Committee, is not shared. The information on the recruitment of experts for the Competition Committee for the selecting of the Curator, the decision on the Committee, and the results of the selection is to be made public on the official website of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine. The above information is available on the website of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine in the section "Activities", subsection "Ukrainian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2019"
How was the Curator of the National Cultural Project to represent Ukraine at the 58th Venice Biennale selected?
In 2018 T. Polatayko, L. Kudel, I. Zabolotny, O. Barshynova, N. Ivanova, N. Kosmolinska, and L. Smirna joined the Competition Committee for the selection of the Curator of the National Cultural Project to represent Ukraine at the 58th Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art.
As a result of the rating voting, that was held on 10.12.2018, the Competition Committee has selected and recommended for the Minister of Culture approval Open Group for the Curator of the National Project (Yury Biley, Pavlo Kovach, Anton Varga, Stanislav Turina). On that point the work of the Competition Committee is to be considered completed.
The Ministry of Culture sincerely thanks the members of the Committee for their hard work, time, responsibility, and impartiality during the process. This procedure and observance of the unified rules for all participants in the selection, respect of the expert opinion by the authorities, absence of manifestations of voluntarism is the key goal of the team of Minister Yevhen Nyshchuk, and not only in the context of national representation in Venice.
The curators who took the 2-5 places during the second round of the selection haven’t notified the Ministry of Culture with any objections or disagreements with the decision of the Competition Committee.
What project will be shown at the 58th Venice Biennale?
The project of the curator-winner of the selection talks about the unreal, full of myths modern world. The project emphasises the meaning of the interpretation of emotion, the myth, that correlates with the concept of this year’s Biennale “May You Live in Interesting Times." Curatorial project "The Shadow of Dream cast upon Giardini della Biennale" has two components, one of which is the flight of Venice's largest cargo aircraft, "Mriya". The concept of the project suggests that a few-second appearance of “Mriya” over Venice will become a reference to a special mythology, which will be reflected in the Pavilion during the exhibition. An essential element of national representation is the 6 month-long exposition in the Pavilion.
At what stage of preparation is the project?
The Biennial Foundation approved the concept of this year's representation of Ukraine as a national participant. This is considered the final decision of the organisers regarding the participating countries. Within the framework of the Rules for National Participants in the Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art, only after this consent was the Winner-Curator publicly announced.
In order to successfully implement the curator's creative concept, the team of Minister Yevhen Nyshchuk is in conversation with the State Concern "Ukroboronprom" and the State Enterprise "Antonov" regarding the use of aircraft “Mriya”, as well as with the authorities of the Italian Republic and the city of Venice regarding the possibility of flying the aircraft over Venice.
There is no information on the impossibility of implementation the Open Group Curatorial Proposal in the Ministry of Culture.
The presentation of the National Pavilion will take place on May 9, 2019 (preview). The pavilion will be open to the public from May 11 to November 24, 2019.
The next Committee for the selection of the Curator of the National Cultural Project to represent Ukraine at the Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art will take place in 2020.
The Ministry of Culture recommends to seek information only from reliable sources.