Performing Kyiv
Cabaret Voltaire, Schauspielhaus Zurich, 2023

Uta Bekaia, Roots /ფესვები. Source:

Alevtina Kakhidze, Uta Bekaia, Maria Kulikovska, Nika Timashkova

The emergency for solidarity in response to the ongoing war waged by Russia against Ukraine tests the real meaning of things and ideas. We imagine Kyiv not only as the old European capital (turning 1541 this year), but also as a unique practice of an international community bound by solidarity, strength and freedom. The position of Kyiv is that the reality of war makes ambiguous answers, freezing the conflict, or buying the dirty peace impossible—as the world’s silence about the Russian occupation of Georgia’s South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008 and Crimea, Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine in 2014, resulted in a bigger tragedy. 

Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, the newborn Ukrainian institutions such as volunteering organizations, international culture foundations, and governmental initiatives with their effective strategies of resistance, have proven that many common ideas on dignity, conflicts, and peacekeeping have been far from real humanity or justice. The emergency for solidarity in response to the ongoing war waged by Russia tests the real meaning of things, and the value of words and ideas. Therefore, international organizations such as the European Union and the United Nations are re-evaluating their strategies and looking for new decisions, included in the dialogue with Ukrainian organizations demanding freedom and justice.  The most important question is: While aiming for peace, do we all seek justice?  

Uta Bekaia, Roots/ ფესვები. Performance

Uta Bekaia is a Georgian-born multimedia artist currently based in Brooklyn and Tbilisi. The artist evidenced the complicated process of Georgia gaining independence from the Soviet Union block and the country's fight for democracy, Russia's occupation of Georgian South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008. Currently, 20% of Georgia's internationally recognized territory is under Russian military occupation. Roots performance explores how our deep-seated connection to our origins, customs, and heritage can often become like the stubborn roots of a tree. We are all born into a legacy. With the connection to our ancestry, homeland, and families. This is one of the most significant moving forces of humanity. The roots, growing out of us, embed us in the places we love unconditionally. The artist transforms into a living representation of Chokha — a traditional Georgian male garment and incorporates movements inspired by the rituals from the Caucasus region. 

Uta Bekaia's artistic practice revolves around the speculative recreation of rituals reimagined for a Queer utopian future. Bekaia pursued his education in Industrial Design at Tbilisi Mtsire Academy. His works have been exhibited at SchauFenster in Berlin, the Museum of Modern Art in Tbilisi, Kyiv and Istanbul Biennials, The Lodge Gallery, New York, Marisa Newman project, New York, the Center for Contemporary Art, Batumi, and others. 

Alevtina Kakhidze. An Attempt at Comprehension: Scripted Performance with Immanuel Kant, Lettuce, and Rose

Questioning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and raising the controversial issues around the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war through drawing practice and unimprovised dialogue, Ukrainian artist Alevtina Kakhidze addresses complicated topics of violence, coloniality, language, and cultural heritage. Having a strong background in performance and activist practice, Alvetina provides insight into the mindset of a contemporary Ukrainian artist who has lived through this war since the occupation of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. The artist's mother spent five years under occupation starting from 2014. Alevtina's mother died in 2019 on her way to meet her daughter in Ukraine, at a checkpoint controlled by Russian-armed groups. 

Alevtina Kakhidze (b. 1973, Zhdanіvka), lives and works in Muzychi, Ukraine. She grew up in the Donetsk region, known for coal mining. She experienced first-hand the abrupt and chaotic changes in Ukraine, from the disintegration of the USSR to Russia's undeclared war in Ukraine that is going on today. Alevtina Kakhidze attended the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in Kyiv and the Jan van Eyck Academy in the Netherlands. She has been the United Nations Tolerance Officer in Ukraine since 2018. Her practice was presented at major exhibitions and institutions such as Manifesta 10 and Manifesta 14, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Museum Ludwig, Budapest, Haus am Lutzowplatz, Berlin, and others. 

Maria Kulikovska. Lustration/Ablution. Performing Kyiv, Cabaret Voltaire, 2023

Maria Kulikovska, Lustration/Ablution. Performance

The beginning of the Russian war against Ukraine in 2014 and the annexation of Crimea deeply affected the artist. Following the annexation of Crimea, Russian soldiers invaded the territory of Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk regions. On 9th June 2014, the armed Russian proxies raided the Izolyatsia Platform For Cultural Initiatives in Donetsk. Maria Kulikovska’s sculptures, cast for Izolyatsia, as well as many other artworks, were destroyed by proxies. Russian proxies turned Izolyatsia into a torture room and illegal prison. Since then, in her artistic practice, Maria started to look for ways to cope with the violence that cannot be embraced, explained and understood. In the Lustration/Ablution performance, Maria is in the bathtub with her clone from ballistic soap. Maria carries out a ritual, hoping to heal traumas through care. 

Maria Kulikovska is a multimedia artist, architect, performer, researcher, and co-founder of Garage 33 Gallery-Shelter in Kyiv. She was born in 1988 in Kerch, Crimea. Maria holds a double MA in Architecture from the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture, Kyiv and in Fine Arts from Konstfack University, Stockholm. Maria Kulikovska made political performances and actions together with such institutions as Accelerator Art Center, Stockholm, Sweden; Francisco Carolinum, Linz, Austria; Neue National Gallery, Berlin; Ludwig Museum, Budapest; Saatchi Gallery, London, UK; and others. 

Nika Timashkova. Good Bye, Bad Bye. Performing Kyiv, Shauspielhaus Zurich, 2023

Nika Timashkova. Good Bye, Bad Bye. Performance

A voice is disrupting the silence. We meet again, even if just for a while. Ears are everywhere, falling from the sky, so we speak in metaphors that protect us. That protect you. We are connected by a very thin string that can break anytime. In my dreams, I return to you. I know the way; words can’t stop me. Time runs out of me. The present was tomorrow. Tomorrow was yesterday. Good bye. Bad Bye. Until we see each other again. In her performance, Nika Timashkova constructs a scene from stitched fragments and activates the objects. Images and masks of war, symbols of cultural heritage, and household items leave the boundaries of their categories, hybridize, and become chimeras — the same as our ideas about the pre-war order of things, which once seemed normal.

Nika Timashkova (b. 1989 in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine) is a multimedia artist and researcher from Basel. She uses various media such as video, performance, and installation of costumes that offer different approaches to a body, which is part human, present or absent, moving or standing still. Thus, working with textiles and bodies, the artist provokes questions about representation, visibility, cultural identity, appropriation, imitation, and power relations. In her installations and photographs, she explores the connection between textiles and gender, (cultural) identity, and originality. Body movements, positions, and gestures are also questioned in relation to Western-dominated traditions of representation and ways of seeing. 

Mediators: Kyiv Art Week, Olena Iegorova (Zurich Art Weekend)