ENVIRONMENTAL ART / Ukraine, 1989-2010/
I want to represent the best pieces of the Ukrainian land art, created during 1989 – 2009. The reason for choosing 1989 as a starting point was not to reject what had been created before. Hlib Vysheslavsky, an artist and editor of «Terra incognita» magazine, has counted 36 years of land art in Ukraine. According to him in addition to the environmental art this phenomenon also includes the actionism and performances and instalments in the environment, which had the social meaning. Without claiming for the ultimate truth, we propose the name “art in environment”, meaning the art of creating images in the environment by using natural facilities in order to represent the environment as a source of eternal themes and ideas.
To my mind it is the idea of representation, which tells the Ukrainian art in environment from classical pieces of the American «land art» with their key idea of “transformation”. The interest of Smithson, Heizer, De Maria or Turrell was focused on effects of universe energies, when the positive vision of the future was questioned. This agreed with the scepticism concerning the possible adequate perception of things and events through observation, which was typical for the beginning of the 1970s. The return to the natural reality reflected the intentions to free from the clutches of the social reality and to feel different.
That was also the attempt to reconsider the relations with the environment, which was mainly perceived selfishly by people. Trying to comprehend the person’s place in time and space, land artists were showing how far from the nature the society was in its efforts to stand out using artificial means of existence that only caused the decay and gradual destruction of the whole creation on the earth.
The main material for the new area of arts was initially the soil and its components. Using bulldozers Michael Heizer, one of the live land art followers, implemented large-scale projects in order to manifest human understanding of the nature with the simplest signs (in particular, Indian pictograms and basic geometric forms). Such environmental art required substantial resources on their production. However, the artists who joined land art later did not aim at producing large-scale projects and needed no considerable funds. Richard Long travelled on foot and created short-lived sculptures of the materials he could find around – stones, mud, plants, and water. Artist’s photographs and installations in exhibition halls were the only memories of those trips. Andy Goldsworthy simply tried “to paint with flowers, clouds, and water, and bend the wind, direct the water and light” so far.
The area of interests of the Ukrainian art in environment is the space of coexistence. There “interweaving” (Oleksiy Tytarenko’s apt expression) and “fitting” are dominating notions, and artists try to emphasize and represent what already exists in the nature regardless human’s whims, and has become an archetype in the process of human development.
We believe that our task is to create images with minimum interference into the environment, primarily using natural materials. Observing the prevailing cult of consumption, the art in environment aims at the activation of human consciousness, and encourages the perception and understanding of the environment, ideas and people as a whole.
Singling out Fedir Tetyanych’s happenings, I propose to make “Vimana of an Old Woman Weaver” and «A Cradle for an Unborn Baby” (1989), produced by Oleksandr Babak and Oleksandr Boroday in the village of Velyky Pereviz in Poltava region and later exhibited in the National Art Museum of Ukraine along with the artists’ paintings and enamels, a reference point of the Ukrainian art in environment. The pieces of art were produced of the elements of farming equipment from Velyky Pereviz and neighbouring villages. For the first time “A Cradle for an Unborn Baby” and “A Vimana of an Old Woman Weaver” created and showed in environment found their places in a classic museum and paved the way for the “different” art.
The next step was actions in environment by Oleksandr Babak and Sergiy Yakunin in 1994 also in Velyky Pereviz. However, thirty years after “The Sign of Mountain” by Dennis Oppenheim signs made by ploughing the soil and the performance with fire had a different meaning. The American artist’s task was to manifest the consumer society’s aggressive nature by stamping the soil like cattle, whereas the Ukrainian artists tried to represent labour as a sacrament, and the place, where inhabitants of Velyky Pereviz have been working for centuries, as a sacred temple of nowadays. The actions had a local character and were carried out without viewers. Participants of the process only took photographs between implementations. Four years later Andy Goldsworthy produced his object “Snow that Freely Melts on the Ploughed Line” (1998), where the photograph of a field ploughed in the form of a rectangle was taken four times during one month, and those photographs were shown to viewers to demonstrate the development with the time.
The cooperation of Oleksandr Babak and Volodymyr Bakhtov on Olivia cycle “Reconstructions” (1995) logically continued this topic. Objects were produced in the place of archaeological excavations in the south of Ukraine, in Olivia, using wires and shards of ancient Greek amphora and Ukrainian pots. “Reconstructions” cycle was shown in the exhibition hall of the Ukraine National Union of Artists, and because of its new idea and professional exposition it became an outstanding event of the artistic life of Ukraine. Project “Oykumena”, which Bakhtov started in 1997, has lasted until now. The artist reproduces the contours of buildings with fire. Some of them only remained as foundations. Painting with torch is a piece of art itself. It usually takes place at night and lasts for quite long. However, the photograph of the process is the whole point as owing to the exposure it fixes all stages at a time.
Due to this the exhibited objects produced without viewers only differed from classical art with the fact that the environment replaced artists’ studios.
In 1997-2002 Oleksiy Lytvynenko and I also followed this practice. My art project of 1997 “White Shadow” attempted “to find and hold modus Vivendi, i.e. optimum balance of coexistence in itself, in the society and in the environment”. I believed that for that it was necessary to activate the perception of the objective meaning of surrounding things and places, enable viewers discovering the world outside the daily routine through art and allow for new interpretations. “Overlapping “another” characteristic of an object with its natural function and natural forms implied the combination <...> that created a unique communication corridor. <...> Indeed, the project itself as a unity represents art in the environment emphasizing its inseparable connection with special features of Ukraine as a geographical, social and spiritual reality”, said art critic Sofia Ivanenko about “White Shadow” project.
Oleksiy Lytvynenko’s and my actions in the environment “White Shadow” (1997), “God, Save” (1998), “Ukrainian Dzen” (1998), “Lybid River” (2000) and others were produced with the minimum number of participants in Chernihiv and Kyiv regions and exhibited in photographs and video in the Centre of Contemporary Art, established by G.Soros, and “new Directions” exhibition in 2001 at the Central Exhibition Hall of the National Artists’ Union of Ukraine as a part of “Transition” art project (2000). Art critic Oleksiy Tytarenko was the exhibition curator. He gathered most of the artists, who at that time were involved in the art in environment.
The same year Vlodko Kaufman implemented project “Virgins”, by fixing white Soviet style curtain lace to pine trees. Whatever that meant – either coffin decorations or a bridal veil – in both cases social allusions were inevitable. The artist deliberately emphasized how tabooed was a modern person’s consciousness, who was floundering captured with possession and fear.
In 2001-2002 Volodymyr Bakhtov made “Olivia Mysteries” project, in which he combined the art in environment with body art. Participants of Olivia archaeological expedition played the roles of ancient Greek heroes, who from the hills looked as if they had been washed. Later this topic of the “history manifestation” was implemented in “Phidias’s Animation” project (2003-2005).
Since 1997 Ukrainian artists have taken an active part in international land art symposiums organised outside the country. In particular, in 1998 at Headlands Centre for the Arts in San-Francisco Hanna Sydorenko produced installation in environment “Homo Ludens” that represented seven bowling balls painted gold and fancifully placed near a neglected military structure. The Ukrainian artist’s forms seemed to be a challenge to the technocratic world of a modern person, who was admired with the civilised artificiality even in the nature.
However, even in Ukraine land artists have new possibilities as new symposiums are initiated and organised in order to produce pieces of art in the open space.
In 1997 in the village of Mogrytsya in Sumy region Hanna Hydora and Valery Shkarupa commenced a series of the International land art symposiums “The Space of the Border Area”. In 2002 it was carried out with Andriy Bludov, Mykola Zhuravel, Valery Shkarupa, Hanna Hydora, Igor Shvachunov, Natalka and Oleg Kokhan, Oleksiy Lytvynenko and me. That was the key symposium for the Ukrainian art in environment as it outlined the principal priorities and grounds for further development. In particular, Mykola Zhuravel’s happening “Preserving Fog” that took place during the symposium was the answer to Pierro Manzoni’s preserved “Artist’s Faeces”. Yury Firsyk’s and Igor Shvachunov’s object in environment “Wall of Self-Sufficiency” became a symbol of a powerful aesthetic influence of land art with the minimum interference into the nature. Tactfully accentuated rhythm of chalk structures made the hill look like a silent but many-voiced organ.
In 2008 land art symposium “Mogrytsya. Without Time” gathered all outstanding land artists of Ukraine, except for Oleksandr Babak, and was marked with the sign of light. Artists tried to turn real light, sunlight or fire into the spiritual light with personal interpretation of each artist.
In 2001 festival “Spring Wind”, initiated by Andriy Bludov in 1996 and organized in Kyiv every year since then, extended its borders. At the beginning it was carried out on Poskotyna hill, and later on Trukhaniv island. Since 2006 “Spring Wind” has become international and changed its curator. Hanna Naduda currently plays this role. Bludov dreams of turning this festival into a social utopia, which would either remind Velimir Khlebnikov, who dreamed of tree houses, sailing sleighs and devices moving in the clouds, or Josef Boyce with his theory of “social sculpture” and belief that the artist’s business was not to produce commercial pieces of art but change the world, convincing every person that he or she was an artist. Andriy Bludov believes that his mission is to explain Kyiv inhabitants and guests that making traps for the wind and drinking Port wine can be turned into arts. He loves dreaming that one day Kyiv would become a commune for land artists.
International Sheshory ethnic music festival was initiated by Tamara Malkova and Olga Mykhailyuk in 2003, who invited land artists for cooperation. At the beginning the festival took place in the village of Sheshory in Carpathian region, whereas in 2007 it moved to the village of Vorobyivka in Vinnytsya region. Owing to the unique nature of the area – its steep rocks, precipices and, most of all, the swift Pistynka river – Sheshory festival opened new possibilities to both well-known and young artists. I would draw attention to Ilona Sylvashi’s and Yaroslav Prysyazhnuk’s object “Shadow” as one of the most meaningful objects of 2005. They whitened the sunlit areas along the Pistynka river near the pendant bridge and achieved the effect of interaction, as some time later viewers had a chance to observe three images of the bridge: its real shadow on the river bank, the shadow created by artists, and the reflection in the water.
We can say with confidence that the difference between the three key land art events was not only about their place, but also about their way of implementation. So, Mogrytsya symposium has a chamber character and is intended to assist in communication of a human with the nature, as it takes place far away from common tourist places and gatherings. Sheshory ethnic music and land art festival aims at attracting a lot of viewers, first of all, because of its music component. This increases the number of land art admirers and reduces the number of participants due to their selection through contest. “Spring Wind” lasts for one to three days and aims at both promoting the communication between artists and inviting more viewers.
Over the last few years art in environment has gathered more and more admirers in Ukraine. In 2007 in Vinnytsya region Oleksandr Nykytyuk initiated the winter land art festival “Application of Spirit”, where in the following year Myroslav Vayda produced ice object “Sign‑2”, a Ukrainian Icehenge, which symbolized the transience of artificial paradigms. In 2008 in Zaporizhya festival “Khortytsya. Three Masts” took place, and Kyrylo Nedorosol’s object most fully visualised the motto of curators Oleg Krasnoselsky and Yury Barannik: “To hearken and hear, to take a glance and see”. In Kyiv region Oles Zhyravchuk initiated festival “Trypillya Circle”, focused on the healthy way of life and study of traditions. Here the land art programme has an educational character and is supplemented with master classes of craft making and concerts of singer poets. Sergiy Manuyilov’s object became an original manifestation of the society discourse with arts. The artist developed the theme, which he commenced at “Spring Wind”.
The same year along with “Mogrytsya”, “Sheshory”, and “Trypillya Circle” the first literary and musical festival “Fort Mission” started near the village of Popivka at the border with Poland. According to the organizers’ concept, defence installations of World War I had to become both the place and the subject of artistic actions. Polish jazzman Yaroslav Botur populated the nearby forest with sounds of music, whereas artists turned the abandoned fortress, the village shop and the concert hall of the local school into counterpoints of ironical happenings.
Such quite unexpected activities allowed the artists to go beyond the art market. Over the last few years a number of artists manifested themselves as matured land artists. They are Myroslav Vayda, Yury Barannik, Andriy Gurenko, Yaroslav Prysyazhnyuk, Ilona Sylvashi, Anatoly Belov, Anna Naduda, Yury Yermolenko, and Oleksandr Nykytyuk.
However, the main problems of the land art movement have become apparent. The first and the principle problem is the amateur attitude of many participants of symposiums and festivals to the subjects of their creativity. Possibly, the reason is that the art in environment seems to be beyond usual categories and criteria of assessment, comparisons and classifications. The assessment of professional level becomes more complicated. The land art is becoming more attractive as a not very demanding work, which sometimes is mixed with fun and rest and, as a result, has nothing to do with arts. Land art events make an impression of flowering of art in environment, as if it is the most desirable and socially focused stream of contemporary art in Ukraine. However, on the other hand promotion of land art has a negative effect as it is gradually becoming a servicing and applied sector of the recreational industry. To my mind it seriously damages the art in environment as a phenomenon.
However, with the time the quantity would lay the basis for the new and different quality – quality of thinking, vision and implementation of new forms of arts.
Land Art Symposium
Mogrytsya, Sumy Region, Ukraine (Curator’s Thoughts)
Why Here and Now (to be honest)?
When it comes to Mogrytsya, I feel like taking people’s hands to bring them to the highest point of Mogrytsya ancient settlement, because from here the panoramic view of the Psel river covers dozens of kilometres, and the landscape makes feeling like a bird.
Moreover, due to the composite topography and steep hills (unreachable for the cattle) it is a unique reserve for miscellaneous herbs. At the end of June juicy greenery of grass flashes with picturesque diversity, and those crazy colours alternate with spots of chalk like the white naked content of soil. The heart gently aches of joy. And a hut of old man and woman nearby... When I was a young city girl in the middle of summer my grandfather put me on a cart and took to the hills to mow. I still do not understand why he needed a small child nearby in the heat, probably, in order to make her want to share this beauty with the whole world later. It is not for nothing that after his return from Mogrytsya Eduard Belsky said that that was the news from the childhood.
Why Land Art?
You take a canvas and a wide brush and paint from one edge to another. There will be a sketch of that place, or it may look like that place, but rather be the place which is called the plane of a picture in a professional language. When you wander in the rusting grass and breathe in thick odorous space, you glance at limitless multidimensional expanses and want to be a part of them and integrate your sign there.
Students: Work in the Open Air or Land Art?
Probably, nothing could happen without students of Sumy High School of Arts as it would not be sufficient if only I, their teacher, wanted it. We had to want together. Of course, at the beginning there was the work in the open air and the correlation of colours and scenes, and details and the background. However, you simply get lost in such a landscape and go crazy because of its beauty. While the dew is still on the ground, barefoot, hand in hand, wet up to the breast, you cover yourself with the morning mist instead of a blanket, and all night romantic fires remain on the hill...
– What if all stars fall together?
– The ancient city whispers its memories about somebody’s love and tears…
– Did they hold hands and were running down to the river into the cool water either?
When emotions overflow, one wants slow and thoughtful magic actions, as it is the desire of the place.
And they come: “We want too. May we?” Of course, you may. What does Petro Bevza think about it? They communicate, listen, watch, and assist.
A parade of own works grows in the environment.
The number of works continues growing from year to year, and the geography of young participants of symposium is much wider than the geography of famous land artists. Every year curator’s heart aches when young strangers, who just arrived, say: “Show me the place, where I can make my object”.
They are afraid that the place they found might be occupied by a recognised Maître. No wonder as real classics are nearby live, smiling and ready to communicate. Legendary Petro Bevza and Oleksiy Lytvynenko invite everyone to the presentation of their object, and Oleksiy Malykh and Yuri Barannik work together with ten students at night in the chalk quarry.
Volodymyr Bakhtov’s master classes enchant everyone. How else should people respond to the fire magic?
They can even freely talk to Andriy Bludov, curator of famous Kyiv “Free Wind” festival, let alone Hanna Sydorenko and Sergiy Yakunin, elegant westernists from Lviv, who were even invited to California to create their land art.
And how nice it is to work besides Myroslav Vayda. He is a good example of a young but known artist, represented in all art magazines.
…That is why no wonder that a few open air galleries emerge in the landscapes. When in the morning the mist covers all over around, young excited people that stay on the hill like on the island, recall fog preserving (2002) and Mykola Zhuravel and think up what to do with this ocean. Maybe, sails could help and…
Of course, from time to time you can see someone crossing a glade with a dreaming smile and a painter’s case, because they are students and diversity of feelings is a part of their character. Time flies, and a group of young people supported by Oleksandr Zhyvotkov exhibits a cycle of drawings “Night” (2005) in Sumy and Kyiv (Irena gallery).
Every year like ancestors did centuries ago in this bordering area they also make a Woman Protector out of clay, burn it in the ancient way, and hope that the symposium will take place next year.
Next year they come again. Their student years are measured with Mogrytsya.
What Did It All Start With?
Near white hill of Okhtyrka city in Sumy region by monastery ruins famous ceramics artist Grygory Protasov initiated symposium “Raku Ceramics” that gathered artistic people from everywhere, even from Warsaw and Berlin. Of course, art centres of Sumy could not stand aside. Sumy Art Museum (Lyudmyla Fedevych, Valery Shkarupa) and Sumy College of Arts and Culture (teachers Hanna Gydora, Karolina Mozgova, Svyatoslav Korsun) took an active part in the organisation and work of the ceramics symposium in 1994-1996 and invited college students to practice in the open air.
In 1997 thanks to L.Vlasenko, Director of Art College, students practiced in Mogrytsya, which turned into the base place for land art symposiums during 1997-2000 together with the ceramics symposium. So the tradition of making black ceramics near the white hill was renewed. College teachers, Natalia Kokhan, Tetyana Shulikova, Igor Shvachunov, and Yury Firsyk, joined the organisational committee. Starting 1999 Viktor Khamatov and Centre for Contemporary Art “Soviart” have supported the actions in the framework of the land art symposium. Owing to Valery Shkarupa in 2001-2002 outstanding land artists P.Bevza, O.Lytvynenko and M.Zhuravel arrived to Mogrytsya, and it increased the quality level of Mogrytsya art in environment.
What Does This Mean For the Environment?
It existed before and still exists.
Majestic, mysterious, and enchanting…
Every year objects represent aesthetic and spatial experiences of artists, creating the atmosphere of penetration into the essence of landscapes, trying to scan images, find traces, outline, accentuate, and combine. Vitaly Kokhan whites trees in the forest, turning it into an orchard. Dmytro Manuyilov plants his own winter garden on the chalk. Anna Naduda crystallizes and collects crystallized chalk. Olena Trubanova, Volodymyr Tsyupka, Angela and Kristina Tereschenko, Sergiy Kharlashyn, Kostya Oleninsky, Mykola Zhuravel, and Oleksandr Nykytyuk see mysterious images in mountain slopes.
Andriy Bludov, Valery Shkarupa, Tetyana Ivanova, Olena Oleninska, Maksym Sadovsky, Volodymyr Zhuravel, and Natalia Kokhan apply their own signs – circles, triangles, diagonals, lines, and labyrinths.
Created objects are inspired by this place - “Portal” by Dmytro Matyukhin, “Giraffe” by Anna Kokhan, “Trace of Shadow” by Hanna Hydora, “Trap for Wind” by Anna Zakharchenko, Kateryna Borika, “Waiting Room” by Tetyana Solomentseva, “Sails” by Halyna Tsukanova and Tetyana Nechyporenko, “River Lilies” by Natalia Kokhan, “Aluminium Cucumbers”, “Bird” by Oleksandra Sadovska, “Idol” by Oleksiy Shevchenko; Oleksandr Fedorenko, Oleksandr Zhulinsky, Sergiy Sobakar, Iryna Lyaposchenko, Sergiy Lebedenko and other artists and images.
In 2007 on the hill of the ancient settlement Dmytro Bozhenko and Roman Minin made a shadow of a tree with chalk dust.
In 2000 on a small elevation near the river bank, where the water was licking its edge, Maryna Mykhaylova from Moscow produced “Fuji That Does Not Sleep”, which was shaped as chrysanthemum with white pedals painted on willow branches with chalk. The flower was a natural decoration of the place with clay ochreous edges. Maryna only evened the graphics of water streams, and in a year their lines became deeper and more expressive. The object continued its own independent life.
When you come back to that place, it is nice to find previous year tracks next to the ceramics of VIII-ХII centuries.
Symposiums take place on the several acre territory of an ancient Slavic settlement. This is a space between a chain of ancient cities of Siversk princedom and migration waves of the Great Steppe. Until now stories of locals about hidden treasures echo with those times.
So it is not accidental that an outline of a white horse appeared at the bottom of the ancient city from the side of the steppe. Its foundation, like an old wattle house, was covered with clay and burnt like ceramics. A roll of canvas was put on its bottom with the following text: “This horse is a contribution to the memories about horses of nomadic peoples that saw the sun setting behind the old Russian settlement with white chalk walls together with worriers of the Steppe, year of 2008, June, day 26” (Oleksandr Zhyvotkov, Oleg Krasnoselsky “Moonlight Horse Rider”).
The objects contain the power of memories about historical experiences and the personal interpretation of relict layers that are almost forgotten. An artist feels a special interest to signs and multidimensional meanings, and begets a mutation of what existed long ago, and what exists here and now.
Near-boundary state never contains stability as it changes in the stream of creation of something new. The stream of time leaves tracks in the layers of soil. Geological and archaeological profile of the soil from Mogrytsya settlement opens up the surface of various epochs. Each layer starting with the dazzling white chalk and finishing with odorous herbs of summer days contains shadows of life: ashes of settlements of various centuries, brick houses, greened copper of an arrow or a woman’s decoration or a tender imprint of a butterfly wing.
If you listen, you seem to hear voices. You can walk along a path and suddenly find a piece of broken crockery. When you put hands in the river, the swift stream sings a very familiar tune, which you cannot recall. Every year those feelings disturb me; that is why objects in environment like “Land Will Stand Everything. Collection of Layers” (2003), “Coachman” and “Roads” (2008) emerged on steep white slopes of the crumbling ancient settlement.
When you enter a new summer from the hill along a steep road, my Coachman, depicted with coal on a white slope, meets and slowly passes by on his cart. He was staying here all the time when we were away. He was waiting for us. And the surroundings get warmer and closer. They are filled with twelve-year-old memories about us, as people who are indifferent to the environment.
Days of Creation in Environment - Paths
“We interweave the desire to comprehend our place in environment into its existing context”, – Petro Bevza, out Ukrainian theoretician of art in environment declares.
Each artist feels his/ her place in environment in an individual way. Each of them has their own path. Almost all paths on the land look light towels. The road over Bevza’s and Lytvynenko’s object “Cretaceous Time” flows like white canvas. The object was produced in 2002, and has still preserved the image of artists’ ideas. As for me without the white road their object is not complete, as their clock measures time according to that road. If you look at it from the sand edge of the river, it looks like a white hill among other green hills marked with red and white triangles that touch each other with sharp angles. What are they, if not two eternal symbols of continued life? Red clay is washed with rains, and red colour is mixed with white and flows like a hint at how time flows along the chalk rock, like all its other signs, which you can find in this place.
The white path of a many-meter long roll of canvas with spontaneous signs on it painted with black colour by Oleksiy Malykh in winter at a crowded performance in a Kyiv theatre, stretched and got lost on a dazzling white chalk emphasizing the eternity of being. The coloured artificial light of the space, created by Yury Barannik for the action “Playing Light” of a group of students, tore the depth and silence of the night confluence with the action (2007).
The meadow is covered with cyclical and spherical paths, which remained after the water was gone. One could immediately recall Robert Smithson’s “Spiral Pier”, however, here nobody “interfered”. The nature itself created that object, and probably, it would be sufficient to stand still looking into it. However, Andriy Bludov and Valery Shkarupa decided to breathe the changeability in it and outline one of former riverbeds with a fire path (object “Transition Line”, 2002). I was sitting on a high hill in the old prince settlement among herb spikelets, when this action of lighting the riverbed was taking place. Time was blowing on me, as far away down something unknown was on fire. The night wind was bringing the human hum and sounds of cattle. Lights were moving, the steppe was breathing with anxiety, and the warm soil of the hill behind the back smelled milk and home.
Where else one can take the fog’s road flying out of the mysterious forest with hands and put it into jars, wash with it, and enjoy it, co-acting with Mykola Zhuravel on the last night before leaving Mogrytsya. They met each other.
What can be whiter than Natalia and Oleg Kokhan’s “Harbour” (2001-2002) that depicts a path, sand bank, chalky river bottom or a shadow of imaginary sails? Isn’t the river with the white background under the clear water a time road? Many have stepped into it and have been washed ashore into this or another harbour at its time. However, suddenly, in six years, all those questions were answered by students of Kharkiv Academy of Design, who crossed the river with the white straight path and united river banks in the dark water, by making the path in tangled water-plants (Oksana Krynychna, Oleg Karpeyev, Dmytro Zezyulin “White Path”, 2008).
The symposium takes place on the chalk plato of the Central Russian Upland, that is why the white chalk appears everywhere. Of course, there is the quarry here, which has been operating since olden times. The ovens of ХІХ centuries still contain remainders. White twelve-meter high chalk walls impress with the geological structure of the soil, dazzle in the sun, and amaze with the unusual landscape and, of course, attract. That is why it always begets projects that turn the place into an exhibition hall.
The first symbolic object “Wall of Self-Sufficiency” by Igor Shvachunov and Yury Firsyk (2002), when the white rock was filled with organ pipes and the “Cretaceous Time” by P.Bevza and O.Lytvynenko became the reference point in the history of the land art symposium, which pays tribute to the earth’s cretaceous period and the artists’ admiration with the beauty of chalk as an artistic material.
Projects of 2008 became symbolic for the chalk area, in particular, “Beginning” by Myroslav Vayda. One-meter big ideally polished “carved in” eggs were scattered all over the chalk wall like relict petrifactions. They seemed to emphasize the reality of a thousand-year time and the stream of life. The action in environment “Ice Pendulum” by Hanna Sydorenko and Sergiy Yakunin became a confirmation of this eternal idea. An ice cone was gradually melting in the chalk riverbed, lighted with artificial light and falling starts. Ripples in the water from drops falling in to the artificial lake, were reflected on chalk slopes, trembling, gliding, disappearing and appearing again as if playing Bach’s fugue.
This is the way the Cretaceous period and Ice Age have come together.
Action of Light
“Sun – sunflower,
Large – small,
Environment – human,
Art – time.
Mogrytsya’s solstice is an object and action in environment which during one day allow for feeling that the time is art, a human is a part of environment, and something small is large, and viewers are like sunrays”.
Petro Bevza wrote those words in 2003. They coincide with feelings of everyone, who comes to Mogrytsya for the main annual event of the sun cycle on the longest days during the year. On this land, days of solstice have always been celebrated as a victory of the light over the dark. The land art festival could not avoid making its contribution to reinforce the light in the world.
Mogrytsya is filled with sunlight spots of looking glasses, which created the unknown reality by interacting with the planet like a symbol of a bird moving on the chalk rock (P.Bevza, O.Lytvynenko “Bird”, 2008); lights of torches, which covered the ages-old willow like glow-worms (Nastya Skorykova “Tree”, 2008); glimmering silver mica on the reflected image of the moon coming from behind the horizon (Andriy Gurenko “A Trap for the Moon”, 2003); yellow bridges bent over the river at night (Andriy Bludov, Oleksiy Malykh “Bridges”, 2003), or an illusive blue boat rising from the river bottom (Andriy Bludov, Oleksiy Malykh “Nautilus”, 2008), tiny lights in intimate, dreamy and peaceful action of Nadia Bilokur and artificial lights, which mysteriously outlined the landscape (Yury Barannik “Landscape of the Settlement”, 2008). Together with Tatyana Bakhtova Volodymyr Bakhtov produced a gelio‑graffiti project “Lost World”, consisting of four objects: “A Convoy”, “New Riverbed”, “Pre-Bible Flood”, and “Cross” (2008). The firing line that broke the night with the magic action was swimming among the river, swiftly rolling down from the top of the settlement, and outlining something unknown among silent white rocks.
For several years Igor Shvachunov has been creating fire reconstructions. “Stairs to Heaven” (2007) were meant to look like a symbol of the Universe, sun and twelve rays - paths. In 2008 the artist continued implementing the idea and produced “Stairs”, which were ascending and disappearing in the night sky like a fire road.
A huge kinetic mechanism grew in the middle of the clearing – Hanna Sydorenko and Sergiy Yakunin made seesaws for unseen giants (“Campfire”, 2008). The object is a twelve-metre set of seesaws made of tree stems with burnt ends.
…From year to year numerous night lights have passed from one object to another and joined with the lights of eyes of colleagues, friends and all fascinated with Mogrytsya. Together with morning dews they join with the sunrise sunshine, which goes through the mantle of fog.
…I wander between symbols in environment, which have been created over twelve years of the symposium and have become another cultural layer in Mogrytsya landscapes (maybe, they have always been here?), trying to comprehend the first round of the land art symposium. I lend my ear to sounds of the white chalk quarry that shines with the primeval purity and feel that the wind, which has always been around, left behind shadows…