Apocalypse, not likely: Kulik-curated Parallel Project to Kyiv’s Arsenale Shut Down for “Pornography”

Detail of Lusine Djanyan and Aleksey Knedlyakovsky, “White Ring,” 2012

Kyiv’s Arsenale 2012 may have gotten off to a rocky start, but at least it’s still open.

Yesterday, the Ukrainian Kommersant reported that the exhibition “Apocalypse and Rebirth in the Chocolate House” has been closed for pornographic content. Organized by the Mironova Gallery, the exhibition was supposed to run in the Kyiv State Museum for Russian Art, from May 15 – July 27, 2012, as a parallel project to David Elliot’s “Rebirth and Apocalypse” project in the Arsenale. Curated by Oleg Kulik, Anastasia Shablokhova and Konstantin Doroshenko, the exhibition boasted an impressive 43-artist roster, from Documenta 12 veterans Dmitry Gutov, Andrei Monastyrski and Anatoly Osmolovsky to perpetual up-and-comers Andrey Kuzkin, Recycle, Maksim Svishev, Zhanna Kadyrova and Valery Chtak.

Andrey Kuzkin, Natural Phenomena, 2012

The exhibition was cited for “pornography.” The Kommersant has suggested two works that may have garnered that charge. The first is Andrey Kuzkin’s “Natural Phenomena,” in which a naked male figure is planted like a tree in the outside courtyard. The second is more political porno: Lucine Djanyan and Aleksey Knedlyakovsky’s “White Ring,” a collection of mini-protestors standing in a scaled model of Moscow’s city streets.

This is not the first incident of censorship in Kyiv, which recently struggled with the closure of another exhibition, “The Ukrainian Body.” It’s perhaps curious, then, that Elliot’s project hasn’t attracted this kind of attention as one of his four themes is “flesh”, which “takes the human body, its appetites, desires and limitations as its central theme.” Kommersant seems to agree, ending on a quote from critic Maria Kruschek: “A naked body does not count as pornography; otherwise, you would have to put boxers on Michelangelo’s David. What counts as pornography is when the Committee for Social Morality closes down an exhibition of contemporary art in Ukraine, in 2012.”

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