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Kyiv International Biennale of Contemporary Art ARSENALE

The inaugural International Biennale of Contemporary Art in Ukraine will open its gates to visitors from all over the world on Thursday, 24th May 2012.

The first exhibition that runs under the title 'The Best of Times, The Worst of Times, Rebirth and Apocalypse in Contemporary Art' attempts to bring into focus the connection between the past, the present, and the future in contemporary art and aesthetics. Quoting the first words of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities it centers on the mutually non-exclusive categories of freedom, liberty, equality and security on the one hand and their opposites unfreedom, inequity, terror, and war on the other hand. The collection of works by about 100 international and Ukrainian artists are to illustrate the recurring nature of contemporary art and how it reflects our ever-changing perspectives of life.

Four hub ideas form the structure of ARSENALE:
- The Restless Spirit: Looks at the way in which we derive strength from beliefs, myths and concepts of the universe that are not governed by material need.
- In the Name of Order: Examines how under the pretext of rationalism power attempts to dominate culture through the creation of self-serving hierarchies.
- Flesh: Takes the human body, its appetites, desires and limitations as its central theme.
- The Unquiet Dream: Focuses on nightmares and premonitions of disaster, without which we are unable to change.

The exhibition will be hosted by the National Culture and Art Museum Complex Mystetskyi Arsenal or 'Art Arsenal'. It is one of Kiev's most impressive edifices. Built between 1783 and 1801, reopened after renovation in 2009, it now meets all criteria of a modern exhibition center with 50 000 sq.m (almost 12.5 acres) of exhibition halls, art laboratories, information centers, electronic libraries, conference rooms, and a lot more. It can be counted among the world's largest museums.

ARSENALE has been brought into being by a collaboration of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, the Kyiv City State Administration, the State Directory for Affairs, and the National Cultural-Art Museum Complex Mystetskyi Arsenal. The exhibition's Commissar is the Director of Mystetskyi Arsenal, Nataliia Zabolotna from Ukraine. It's Curator/Artistic Director is David Elliot from Great Britan, who curated ‘The Beauty of Distance. Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age,’ the 17th Biennale of Sydney, which received record attendances in 2010. He was also the founding Director of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Director of Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Director of the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, and was the first Director of the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art.

Mystetskyi Arsenal Interior, Kyiv, Courtesy Mystetskyi Arsenal
Folkert de Jong, The Shooting… At Watou;1st of July 2006, 2006, pigmented styrofoam, PU spray foam, rope, wood, iron, 2000 × 800 × 300 cm, Courtesy the artist and the James Cohan Gallery, New York/Shanghai
Canan Tolon, Reflex 17, 2011, oil on 4 panels, 183 × 243 cm, Courtesy of Gallery Paule, Anglim, San Francisco
Erbossyn Meldibekov, Peak Communism, 2012, beaten enameled sanitary ware, Courtesy Rossi & Rossi, London

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