Over the years of existence Gogolfest has become an important place of rescue from too much glamour and slobbery. Last time it was held two years ago. The Kyiv authorities have arranged pompous press meetings with promises to revive the festival. To no avail.
Therefore Gogolfest resolved to meet us anew in the premises of the huge workshop of metal constructions plant in Vydubychi on September 21 through 29.
What will unite the artists at this year’s Gogolfest?
“To answer this question, we have to start from the preceding events. Vlad Troitsky managed to gather caring people in this festival who are deciding to do important and needed things together. Gogolfest is based on three ‘elephants’: theater, music, and visual art. A year ago, when we thought that the festival would take place, Vlad offered me a whole pavilion for the art project. This sounded incredible to me and I started pondering over this idea. Then everything came to deadlock. But I am sure that Gogolfest is hardly an undertaking that cannot be finished. This year I remembered again about the common cause, the unity as such, where we come from and that in a sense we are a village nation. So, I gradually came up with the project which I called Neofolk Project.”
The Gallery Ya Design held Mykola Matsenko’s exhibit under the same title, didn’t it?
“Exactly. In 2006. This time I thought that based on the folklore traditions that are the closest to us, we can try to leaf them over, look at us through the experience of the 21st century and in this way change somewhat the understanding of our contemporary art. For we are used to the traditional perception, we are naturalistic. We should be working with wood or clay. We are accustomed that a picture should hang on the wall and a sculpture – stand on the floor. Meanwhile, new myths and new ‘folklores’ are created. And I want to show this during my Neofolk Project.”
What is the target audience?
“According to my intentions it will be for broad audience. No doubt, it will be not only an artistic project, but also a social one. Irony will for sure be present in it. And the premises of the plant in Vydubychi will greatly fit into this concept. As for the geography, we are trying to involve artists from all over Ukraine, not only Kyiv or Lviv.”
How many Ukrainian artists will be involved in Neofolk Project?
“The number of the participants continues to grow. We are holding many negotiations every day. Whereas at the outset we planned there would be nearly 30 artists, now I understand there will be more than 40 of them. Fortunately, the premises are big enough.”
As for the premises, you must agree the place is quite specific. How will the project accommodate itself in this workshop? Will you manage to turn all the minuses of the plant (like mud, puddles on the floor or huge-size architecture of industrial social realism) into advantages?
“Art tends to change the karma of any premises. Therefore it is not a problem. Let there be puddles. This is wonderful. We can add the sound of raindrops falling as a designer’s decision. The plant’s premises are a vast gallery with an area of 1,500 meters: there will be place for everyone. The art project will be welcoming the guests: it will be the first thing you will see when you come to the festival.”
Could you share some concrete names and ideas of the participants of Neofolk Project?
“There will be a huge share of entertainment; therefore the project will be light, but not lighthearted. The program can be conditionally divided into four directions. The first one is the creation of myths and people’s wisdom. It will show the secrets of happy life present in Andrii Sahaidakovsky’s works: Keep your Feet Warm, Don’t Go too Far in the Water, etc. They are laconic and apt, just matchless, because you have nothing to add. The second stream is the landscape, which is an absolutely integral part of Ukraine even on phonetic level. It will show large-scale installations by Oleksandr Babak, a kind of post-landscapes, monumental works sized 6 to 2.20 meters which have been stored in archives for a long time. Our premises offer a wonderful opportunity to show all this. The next one is perpetual activity. Ukrainians are not used to idling – work is a ticket to the future for them. And, finally, it is of course the beauty, the constant appeal to beauty, aesthetics, material nature of the object, all presented in Tiberii Silvashi’s fantastic project ‘The First Gesture’ and some works from his previous project.”
Can bad times prevent Gogolfest from revival?
“They have been doing so for two years. But in fact there are no bad times, just complicated situations. This is an absolutely different thing. The loss of time which cannot be returned poses the greatest danger. Currently we are living in a transitional time, but I perceive this in a positive way, because the nature of everything reveals itself in a more powerful way. For example, there used to be a terrible and dirty abandoned playground for children in the village of Bilohorodka. Children were playing next to stray dogs there. To cut a long story short, it was a shame even to look at it. One day one of the neighbors hung an announcement: dear neighbors, let’s do something about it. That was enough. It took us a month to clean up the playground, revamp it, and put benches looking like trunks. Now everyone comes and says: it is beautiful, great. And this beauty does not depend on whether we are living in good or bad times, whether it is easy and simple, or on the economic and political situation. It depends solely on our choice, to do or not to do. We should not wait for something from somebody. If you have earned some money, do some good thing. Buy a painting from an artist, plant a tree on a non-private area, go to a museum with a company, or bring children (not only yours) to a movie theater. Don’t be waiting. For artists are not the people who wait. They won’t tell you they will work only when they get an advance payment. They are doing it out of interest. And their results offer the hints for us, how this world has been improved.”