Revolutionary Moments


In English on November 10, 2009 at 20:45

Recording of ROUNDTABLE ONE English 

Recording of ROUNDTABLE TWO English 

WELCOME – The two part event entitled ‘Revolutionary Moments’ commemorates  Art and Protest inspired and connected to two moments of mass-mobilisation, the first in  in Poland 20 years ago and  the second in Ukraine 5 years ago. ‘Revolutionary Moments’  consists of both a contemporary art exhibit (1.12.2009-20.12.2009) and a one day academic and practitioner conference (19.12.2009).  Both events are held in Kyiv, Ukraine at the Centre For Contemporary Art  at the University of The Kyiv Mohyla Academy.

‘Revolutionary Moments’

A Symposium on

Protest, Politics and Art 

“… because everything is political…”

– (Unknown)

This two-part event, its title and its theme were born out of several intense discussions between Jerzy Onuch and my self. Our discussions based on a conceptual framework I develop in my doctoral thesis (Revolutionary Moments and Revolutionary Movements: An Analysis of Mass-Mobilization in Argentina in 2001 and Ukraine in 2004) inspired our first ever collaboration. Our debate moved from a theoretical review of revolutions and moments of mass-protest, to the role of politics in art and art in politics, then again on to the art of protest and protest art. We discussed how it seemed to be the case that in so many instances artists and activists themselves overlapped and contemporary art booms where somehow connected to periods of intense social change and protest booms. 

“… in order to have a revolutionary moment, you must have an existing and ongoing revolutionary movement…”

– (Onuch, 2009)

We finally settled on series of conversations about how art and politics, as well as the actors responsible for their existence (artists, curators, historians, the viewing public, or politicians, activists, analysts, media pundits and ‘ordinary citizens’) are only ‘visible’ in particular and brief “moments” in time. All the while the movements behind political and art events (such as protests, exhibits/installations) are part of an on-going process. It became clear that he in his professional work as a curator and artists and I in my academic research were both intensely fascinated with these ‘moments’ in time, when a political or artistic movement/actor becomes visible, is put on stage, or is staged. The moment, although dynamic, seems to be a prick point in time and is connected to an ongoing movement, the moment is thus both stillness and motion, revolutionary rupture and continuity.

“the world is a stage”

– (Shakespeare) 

Furthermore, we identified two ‘revolutionary moments’ in Poland (and neighboring countries) in 1989 (and in the late 1980s more broadly) and the so-called  Ukrainian ‘Orange Revolution’ in 2004. The 1989 and 2004  can be framed and analyzed as ‘moments’ of revolutionary cultural, social and political change. The obvious visibility of ‘mass-mobilization’ placed Polish and Ukrainian activists and ‘ordinary citizens’ on the world stage, their role as political actors was extraordinary, indispensable and momentarily global.  Jerzy and I began discussing how in both countries  there were

booms in participation in civic and cultural activity that these flourished reciprocally and even collided, making both profoundly visible and suddenly notable in media in the public sphere. We thought it could be useful to explore how in such ‘revolutionary moments’ activism and artistic or cultural critique overlap. 

The purpose of this combined event is to have a discussion about the politics of such ‘revolutionary moments’, including an analysis of the role of the ideas, actors and institutions involved in moments of mass-mobilization and the contemporary art that is inspired by or inspires such ‘revolutionary moments’. First, the citylights/installations /workshops/performances/art actions by the Ukrainian REP (activist/artist) group and other invited artist, activists will explore the artistic aspects of the ideas of revolution, ‘revolutionary moments’, and stages/staging in contemporary art. Second, the symposium will dedicate two panels to the politics of protest and the interaction between politics and art. 

The first panel, academic in nature, will assess the mechanisms behind ‘moments’ of mass-mobilization in 1989 and specifically in Ukraine in 2004 – elucidating the ideas, actors and institutions of central importance in the phenomenon. The panelists will include a mixture of established academics in History and Political Science, graduate and early career researchers and activists (from Canada, Germany, Poland, the UK, Slovakia and Ukraine). They will deal with aspects of civil society and activism, elite politics and protests, regional connectivity and diffusion of protests, the visibility and staging of protests  and finally the role of the media in making protest and activism visible. 

The second panel, will assess the role of art and culture in political and social life, as well as moments and movements in contemporary art. The participants will include artists, activists, academics/’public intellectuals’ and curators (from Ukraine and Poland).  The panelists will deal with philosophical and practical aspects related to the staging and visibility of art, the role of art in protest, the role of protest art in societies, the concept of revolution and revolutionary art, and finally the connectivity between socio-political ‘revolutionary moments’ and booms in contemporary art and culture.

I hope that our discussions prove interesting you and that you will join and elucidate our conversations on the above themes and add to the dialogue on ‘revolutionary moments’ in politics and contemporary art. We look forward to your participation.

By Olga Onuch

Brought To  By:

The Polish Institute in Kyiv 














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