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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Without cliches and stereotypes

A unique project SHEVCHENKO/MANIA/ will present the first opportunity for the wide public to see the great poet’s hand-made book, original manuscripts, and sketches
12 February, 2014 - 18:05
ONE OF THE EXHIBITION ITEMS, A DRAWING BY TARAS SHEVCHENKO. PORTRAIT OF MARIA MAKSYMOVYCH. PROKHORIVKA, JUNE 22, 1859 / Photo courtesy of Mystetsky Arsenal press service

The opening ceremony of SHEVCHENKO/MANIA/ will take place on February 21. The project will continue till the poet’s 200th birth anniversary (March 9). The project was initiated by Mystetsky Arsenal. Experts from Shevchenko Institute of Literature, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, workers of the Taras Shevchenko National Museum, and famous director Serhii Proskurnia participated in the project’s creation. The beauty of the project is that a lot of items related to the great Kobzar’s life and creative work will be presented to the wide public for the first time.

The Institute of Literature presented the legendary hand-made book, originals of unique manuscripts, albums of Shevchenko’s ethnographic sketches made in the 1840s, and editions published during his lifetime. The Taras Shevchenko National Museum contributed over 50 works of art, among them watercolors and etchings made during 1830s-1850s, related to the main milestones of the master’s life. Also, the visitors will be able to see the little known series of drawings Shevchenko made during the Aral and Karatau expeditions, and during his stay at the Novopetrovskoe fortification. This collection was never presented to the wide public as well.

“We wanted to create this project to display the work and importance of the poet in a different way, without cliches and common stereotypes. Shevchenko is a grand figure,” said Natalia ZABOLOTNA, director general, Mystetsky Arsenal. “However, ideological stamps of the Soviet era automatically transferred to the 21st century. It is for a reason that we called our project SHEVCHENKO/ MANIA/, we wanted to emphasize the exceptional importance of the poet as a prophet, help feel the fullness of his creative genius, but at the same time, to remind of his earthly origin. It is important for us to show the conditions in which Shevchenko lived and worked. The project was also designed to update Shevchenko’s creative work and modernize the image of him by making him closer to modern people. We planned a number of events to avoid the unnecessary pompousness and show how the Kobzar’s work lives nowadays, how closely it resonates with the ongoing events in the country, and how it is perceived by citizens of the 21st century.

“In addition to the exclusive exhibition, a video installation Our Shevchenko is planned within the framework of the project. It was prepared by director Serhii Proskurnia. Video clips of school and university students, poets, teachers, artists, pharmacists, sportsmen, firefighters, hairdressers, journalists reciting the great Kobzar’s poems will be screened on an installed screen. There will be 365 videos in total!”

“This number coincides with the number of days in a year, and we have to air 30 more videos,” explains Serhii PROSKURNIA. “We filmed everyone who was interested in the project, and also some stars I invited. The shooting took place all over Ukraine, I could not film in Donetsk oblast only, because people that were going to participate did not know Shevchenko’s poems by heart, and it was a mandatory condition. Sometimes readers peeked at the poems, but nevertheless, people enjoy those lines, they bathe in them. For the most part, those are excerpts from Shevchenko’s works these people are particularly fond of.”

Besides the video installation, the director also prepared a film Taras Shevchenko. Identification for the project. It will be screened during the night of March 9, which was called “The Open Night ‘The Age of Shevchenko.’” Meetings with writers, philosophers, art critics, performances of Ukrainian music bands are also a part of this nights’ program.

As Proskurnia told The Day, there will be a lot of interesting events during the project, an exhibition of paintings by an artist from Smila (Cherkasy oblast) among them. He was invited to participate in SHEVCHENKO/MANIA/ for a reason, because in his lifetime (the artist is 91 years old) he painted 200 portraits of Shevchenko!

“Educational program and a platform for discussions are also on the project’s agenda. It is planned to organize a flashmob for children: 500 participants, students of art schools and studios will create a cartoon online, which will be based on Taras Shevchenko’s life and works,” Zabolotna says. “The Laboratory of Art of an innovative educational project Arsenal of Ideas, designed for children of all ages, will operate too. There, children will draw covers for Kobzar, make appliques and figures based on Shevchenko’s stories, will participate in interactive contests and quizzes dedicated to little known aspects of Taras Shevchenko’s life. It is also planned to create a sticker installation, where children will express their vision of who Shevchenko is for them.”

Mystetsky Arsenal’s undertaking is not the first attempt to present the great poet’s creative heritage in a new way. But the museum assures the scale and format are going to be absolutely different this time. “A classic exhibition of original manuscripts, installations featuring modern technology and unconventional ways of presenting material are going to be displayed in one place, so visitors of any age will find the event interesting,” Zabolotna continues. “As for the content, I am convinced there is no time limitation for Shevchenko’s works, they will always be relevant. Those who doubt it can come and see for themselves.”

By Inna LYKHOVYD, The Day
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