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Pavilion of Ukraine

National Pavilion of Ukraine

National Pavilion of Ukraine

59th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia

23 April - 27 November 2022

Artist: Pavlo Makov

Curators: Lizaveta German, Maria Lanko, Borys Filonenko

Commissioner: Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine

Venue: Arsenale - Sale d'Armi
See the contact and venue

Pavlo Makov at the 59th Venice Biennale
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe

Fountain of Exhaustion. Acqua Alta

Pavlo Makov from Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city in the northeast of the country, is a renowned artist, famous for his innovations in etching and printmaking. In Venice he will premiere with his kinetic sculptural object: the Fountain of Exhaustion. Acqua Alta. The pavilion, commissioned by the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, is curated by co-founders of The Naked Room gallery Lizaveta German, Maria Lanko and chief editor of IST Publishing Borys Filonenko.

Lizaveta German, Borys Filonenko, Pavlo Makov (artist), Maria Lankro (left to right)
© Photo: Eugene Nikiforov. Courtesy of Ukrainian Pavilion

The story of the Fountain of Exhaustion dates back to the ‘90s in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Its ruined infrastructure, typical of the post-Soviet city, constant water supply disruptions and neglected public spaces contributed to an atmosphere of decay. None of the public fountains in Kharkiv were working. Once, an accident at the local treatment facility caused a four-week shutdown of the water supply and subsequent flooding.

Those events became the settings for Makov’s developing practice. It was focused on the topic of Place surrounded by water bodies – rivers, fountains, lakes.

The confluence of the rivers Lopan and Kharkiv, 1995.
© Photo: Courtesy of Pavlo Makov

The place where the Lopan' and Kharkiv rivers confluence gradually led the artist to the concept of the funnel that splits into two and exhausts the water flow. Put together in a multiple-level construction, the funnels constitute "The Fountain of Exhaustion" — a paradoxical symbol of life in the place in Makov's works. Its water from the top funnel splits till only a few drops reach the bottom — just like two rivers that merge but still exhaust themselves.

The Fountain of Exhaustion, 1995. Drawing on paper, 40 x 49 cm
© Pavlo Makov, courtesy of the artist

The kinetic sculpture that Pavlo Makov will present in Venice consists of over 70 funnels on a wall in the shape of a triangle. The water poured into the upper funnel is divided into two streams that flow into the ones below. At the end, only a few drops of water reach the bottom, “symbolizing the exhaustion on a personal and global levels.” (Maria Lanko)

Makov's local experience of being in his own place and his careful observation of its changes are inherent in his practices. They make the fountain relevant to the current global agenda by representing depletion of earth's resources, post-pandemic burnout, social media fatigue, and exhaustion by wars.

Fountain of Exhaustion has never been executed as a working fountain despite the artist's attempts to put it up in Kharkiv. Symbolically, for the first time, it will be presented in the city that is too familiar with high waters and exhaustion from human occupation — Venice.

"Changing water levels and peoples’ attempts to master the uneven flow of the 'liquid world' are common metaphors to describe modernity, that has a very real embodiment in Venice. The alternation of flooding and drought that led to a lively discussion about the future of the city are important components of the project context in the Ukrainian pavilion" commented the curators of the Ukrainian pavilion Lizaveta German, Maria Lanko and Borys Filonenko.

The curators decided to stay away from flashy installations and digital solutions. Instead, they will give the audience a break and a chance to look inside and reflect on the current moment.

This approach led to their proposal of the pavilion to win the national competition organized by the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy.

"Art, embodying the symbolic value of the modern era, helps people to realize pressing problems. Sometimes this is the best way to bring sensitive issues to the fore. The art project by the artist Pavlo Makov reflects very symbolically the problem that affects every citizen of our planet. I am convinced that the project will worthily represent Ukraine at the exhibition and will resonate with everyone's heart," comments the Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, Olexandr Tkachenko.

See also:

Ukraine at the Biennale despite the ongoing war

Ukraine, 8 March 2022 - During a video call with the organizers of La Biennale di Venezia, the curators of the Ukrainian pavilion announced that they have resumed their work on the project and will represent Ukraine at the 59th International Art Exhibition.

Despite the ongoing war, the team managed to evacuate fragments of the artwork from Kyiv, which is being heavily shelled and plans to recreate the rest of the project in Venice. The team expressed their strong belief that the chance to represent Ukraine at the most important art forum in the world with the work of Pavlo Makov has the power to help Ukraine gain its voice and fight Russian aggression not only in cities and villages of their country but also in culture internationally.

When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, the team behind the Ukrainian Pavilion had to reunite with their families and find a safe place to shelter. All the work on the project was suspended due to safety concerns. But, less than two weeks later, the curators found a way to represent Ukraine.

"In times like this, the representation of Ukraine at the exhibition is more important than ever. When the sheer right to existence for our culture is being challenged by Russia, it is crucial to demonstrate our achievements to the world" said the Ukrainian Pavilion curators Maria Lanko, Lizaveta German and Borys Filonenko.

Press release, more information

Statements from La Biennale di Venezia

In an official statement on 25 February 2022, La Biennale di Venezia declared: "La Biennale di Venezia, a place where all peoples meet in art and culture, stands by all those who are suffering as a result of the Russian attack on Ukraine.
We invoke peace and firmly reject all forms of warfare and violence, confirming that La Biennale remains a place of dialogue between institutions, artists and citizens of every country, language, ethnicity and religion."
Full statement

On 2 March 2022, La Biennale di Venezia announced it will collaborate in every way with the National Participation of Ukraine to ensure the presence of the artist and his team, manifesting "full support to the Ukrainian people and to its artists, and express its firm condemnation of the unacceptable military aggression by Russia."
La Biennale is also "close to all those in Russia who are courageously protesting against the war." (…) It "will not shut its doors to those who defend freedom of expression and demonstrate against the despicable and unacceptable decision to attack a sovereign state and its defenceless people." But points out that it "rejects any form of collaboration with those who on the contrary have carried out or supported such a grievous act of aggression."
Full statement

Organizer, contact:

National Pavilion of Ukraine
Arsenale - Sale d'Armi
Venice Biennale
Location on map

Official website:

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Press contact:
Katya Pavlevych, Head of Communications
+1 415 640 3152

From press information and other sources.
© Photos B/W: Courtesy of the Ukrainian Pavilion.
© Photos of the installation in Venice: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe.

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