A few months ago, curators Lizaveta German and Maria Lanko invited guests to the opening of a new metropolitan gallery, which in just a few months became one of the most fashionable places in Kiev.
“The opening of the gallery for us is a different level of growing up. The space imposes certain obligations both on the public and on the staff. Now we are no longer independent curators, but taxpayers and employers. We definitely got out of the status of girls,” says Maria Lanko about changes that happened over the past six months in her life and the life of her friend and co-curator Lizaveta German. The Naked Room Gallery is not even a year old, but it seems as though here, on Reitarskaya, people were always sitting like this on the steps with a glass of summer rose, young people and respectable businessmen jumped in to watch a new exhibition at lunch and went out, someone with a new book about art, and who with the firm intention to acquire one of the paintings in his collection. During these six months, visitors saw the exhibition of Elena Subach and Vyacheslav Polyakov, representatives of the new Ukrainian photography, more than once recognized abroad, a vivid painting by Lucy Ivanova, an art statement on the theme of consumerism by Olga Gaidash and the exhibition "Ale Bastra Atlas" by Ksenia Gnilitskaya dedicated to Soviet architectural modernism . For almost all of these 30-year-old artists, expositions at The Naked Room were the first solo exhibitions. “Our foundation is the artists with whom we grew up together, we know them better, we can talk more about them, and besides, they don’t pay so much attention,” the curators explain their approach. And they note that they have long thought that the city lacks a commercial gallery: "We have art centers, spaces, hubs, but there are no right galleries, as if it is embarrassing to be a commercial gallery. Now we have the excitement to do this. We we work as we think, it should be ideal, curatorial ethics are important for us, which is not very practiced in our country, we do this not only for ourselves – there is hope that this approach will affect the entire art sphere that artists who have signed a contract with us will go to another gallery and will no longer want to y to earn without a contract. "
The Naked Room gallery was created by girls together with the British-Swiss director Mark Raymond Wilkins, the owner of the Golden Lion for the commercial for Doctors Without Borders. For a long time he lived in Berlin, often came to Kiev for filming, and after the Revolution of Dignity he decided to stay, settling on Reytarskaya Street, which just began to turn into a fashionable space and the Mecca of progressive Kievans and avant-garde youth. Seeing that on the contrary non-residential premises are for sale, Wilkins immediately acquired it in order to create a gallery together with Maria and Lizaveta and to accustom the new middle class to modern Ukrainian art. Young curators, behind whom there were already many large art projects, agreed quickly and without hesitation. “We were not originally going to be independent curators, lately it has been particularly acute that we want systematic work,” says Masha. “Of course, we would like to create a Museum of Modern Art, we see this as the goal of our professional existence and someday to this we’ll come, but then an idea came to Mark, a fan of Reitarskaya, where everything was in full swing – shops, coffee shops, showrooms, and there was no art yet.The idea arose very on time, we easily took up it, although the real knowledge and competence of managing commercial ts we did not have. "
What the girls had was a great desire, good curatorial experience and high-profile projects that received good media publicity. “A month ago, Pavel Klimkin came to us and said that so far the waves from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been swaying after our exhibition. Although 5 years have passed and people are still not letting go,” smiles Lisa German, recalling how in 2014 In the year, Dmitry Kuleba, then special ambassador, provided them with a full carte blanche, proposing to make the first exhibition in the history of this institution at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As one would expect, the exposition with the ironic title “Power verticals. Plywood colonnades” caused outrage among many officials, however, the goal was to stir up the burrowing environment and revitalize the strict corridors of the gray building on Mikhailovskaya Square: “This, in principle, was our first project in Ukraine, an attempt to make a large exhibition in a very strange context, in a state institution, although it was more a hooliganism of the ministry in relation to itself, the minister and his deputies decided to take this step, understanding why they were doing it. I wanted to show that art is not dangerous, it is quite possible to enter into dialogue with it. "
Before their first Ukrainian exhibition, Masha and Lisa managed to make an on-site exhibition at another vacant space gallery in Berlin and an exhibition with the “Open Group” in the tiny Lviv gallery Detenpyla, from which their online research project “Open Archive” was born. And the girls became friends, studying at the PinchukArtCentre as part of the "Curatorial platform" program, as a result of which only three of the three participants were to hire. “At that time, it seemed to us that teamwork was progressive, many artists united. We were very inspired by the guys from the Open Group, they were just starting out and at the same time they worked a lot. We realized that the team is the right way to work in the modern world, it’s a constant exchange, dialogue. Therefore, when the two of us invited Masha to stay, she did not accept this offer and decided to work with me, "recalls Lisa German.
The Lanko duet – German, as well as many art critics, considers the Festival of Young Ukrainian Artists, which was initiated by the Ministry of Culture in 2017, to be its most serious project. Together with Katerina Filyuk, they became his co-curators, selecting competitive applications for participation and forming the final exposition at the Mystetsky Arsenal. Now, after 2 years, the girls pass the baton to the curators of the arsenal in the most important project of this summer – a large-scale exhibition of the artist Oleg Golosiy, who passed away at the age of 27, from whose work critics begin the countdown of the “new Ukrainian wave of the 90s”. After meeting with the brother of the Voice, Denis, who is the heir to his collection, Maria and Lizaveta decided to create the Artist Estate of the artist – an ordered archive that will be properly stored, which can be digitized and researched. The start of the Ukrainian public’s acquaintance with the work of Oleg Golosiy was a chamber exhibition in The Naked Room, and until mid-August in the Mystetsky Arsenal you can see 70 paintings and 50 graphic works of the artist, along with his photographs and archival materials. In autumn, the project will continue in the walls of the National Museum of Art. “Initially, the fact that several institutions decided to do events dedicated to the Voice was just a coincidence,” said Masha and Lisa. “But we all sat down at the round table, because for us, who initiated the whole process, it was important to make a consistent story out of it. By creating its archive, we want to show how it is done in a civilized and legal way, both legally and from the point of view of the market. ”The main thing is not in a hurry, we also study and hope that the example of the Voice will help other institutions and families of artists to manage this "For the lack of the Museum of Modern Art, these things can simply dissolve, as happened with the creations of many artists who worked in the 90s or even in the 60s."
Meanwhile, in the gallery itself, life does not freeze. In the summer months, the girls organize a bright and elegant exhibition of the Transcarpathian Petr Ryaski and present the joint work of Ukrainian artists and people with Down syndrome. In autumn, they will show the project of Anna Shcherbina and Sergey Sabakar, and a little later – a personal exhibition of Anna Zvyagintseva.
“We are interchangeable and do everything together,” the curators say, answering the question of how they manage to work side by side for five years and step by step to build their joint career. “We are both for building relationships, this is what helped us not to break up. Therefore, it’s interesting for us to discuss and discuss each stage and zone of responsibility, because you yourself are often not able to think one step further, this is possible only through such ping-pong. This is our strength. "
Worked on the filming:
Photographer: Vova Clover
Stylist: Anna Goncharova
See also: Artist Ksenia Gnilitskaya: “Realism is a constant struggle that will never stop”