Fabbrica del Vapore
via Procaccini 4, Milano
Everybody wants to live by the sea
curated by Silvia Franceschini
opening 25 June, 18.30 pm
25 June — 18 July 2014
Viafarini DOCVA presents the research of the Ukrainian artist Nikita Kadan (Kiev, 1982). The exhibition, curated by Silvia Franceschini, focuses on
a conversation with the artist, who will present his works against the background of the first version of the installation from his ongoing project Everybody wants to live by the sea.
In his research on the territory of Crimea, which became internationally known because of recent violent events, Nikita Kadan goes deep into the past to when this land was the subject of dispute. Hidden memories of the peoples, nations and states struggling for the possession of the peninsula as well as the artist’s personal memories are transformed in a semi-documentary display of imagery and distinctive architectural forms that tells the story of the land, its past and, consequently, its future.
Historically Crimea was home to different ethnic and religious groups. One of them, the Crimean Tatars, was deported in 1944 from the peninsula by Stalin’s orders as a form of collective punishment for alleged collaboration with the Nazi occupation regime. The deportation remained the shameful underside of one of the most famous Soviet resorts, a paradise situated between the Black and Azov Seas. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Crimean Tatars returned to their ancestral homeland and started to re-occupy the territory with self-built settlements. These fragile architectural shelters are often left unfinished or are ruined by local authorities driven by a new wave of xenophobia towards Crimean Tatars who are again becoming an object of exclusion in the new “Russian Crimea”. Kadan interposes drawings of the geometrical shapes of modernist architecture, which call to mind the Soviet paradise of Crimea built on the Crimean Tatars’ territory after its ethnic cleaning, between documentary photographs of the Tatar settlements. The settlement becomes a skeleton upon which a new society is currently emerging, driven by a new national idealism which suspiciously resembles the Soviet one.
A thin neon profile defines Crimea as an autonomous island which in reality is becoming an object of manipulation by different geopolitical interests. Written in 1979, the fiction novel “The Island of Crimea” by Vassily Aksyonov imagined an alternative history wherein the Russian civil war ended with the tsarist forces able to hold on to this southern scrap of the old empire. The novel ends with Russia annexing Crimea after its citizens are tricked into requesting the invasion themselves, almost predicting the current Russian occupation of Crimea.
The utopia of Socialist Crimea is reconstructed by a documentary display with a collection of images from the 1960s to 1980s and booklets representing the modernist infrastructure for leisure and healthcare – sanatoriums, hotels, restaurants, beaches and swimming pools – as well as the happy life of tourists coming from different Soviet republics. The photographs were done by Tass (Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union) and used to advertise Crimea as one of the best tourist destinations of the Soviet Union in Italy and in the rest of the world.
The exhibition is supported by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation in Kiev. The photographic materials on display are courtesy of the archive of Associazione Italia Russia in Milan.
Nikita Kadan (b. 1982 in Kiev) lives and works in Kiev. He graduated from the National Academy of Fine Art in Kiev where he studied Monumental Painting. Since 2004, he has been a member of the R.E.P. (Revolutionary Experimental Space) group and co-founder and member of HudRada curatorial and activist group. Nikita Kadan has exhibited at Palazzo Reale in Milan, at the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin, at the Zamek Ujazdowski Art Centre in Warsaw and at the National Art Museum in Kiev. His work Procedure Room is in the collection of the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich. In 2011 he received the Pinchuk Art Prize and in 2012 and 2014 he was shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize.