Magazine article Artforum International

Carlos Motta: PinchukArtCentre

Magazine article Artforum International

Carlos Motta: PinchukArtCentre

Article excerpt

KIEV

Carlos Motta

PINCHUKARTCENTRE

At the time of writing, the chilling echo of "Kill! Kill! Kill!" can still be heard. The cry came from right-wing Ukrainian nationalists as they disrupted and ultimately shut down a LGBTI festival in the city of L'viv, Ukraine, on March 19. The event is but one example of the social discord that has been raging across the country since it was splintered by a revolution in 2014. Responding to this context, at Kiev's PinchukArtCentre, Colombian artist Carlos Motta exhibited Patriots, Citizens, Lovers ..., 2015, a multimedia installation on the theme of Ukrainian LGBTI visibility, or lack thereof.

The work, a commission produced on the occasion of the institution's 2014 Future Generation Art Prize, comprises a series of ten-minute video interviews with local LGBTI activists, including Olena Shevchenko, a member of the advocacy NGO Insight, which organized the contested festival. On a wooden base resembling both a stage and a public square, ten large flat-screen monitors were mounted vertically on posts so that they resembled protest placards. The monitors were staggered, oriented so that the viewer would weave through the ensemble as if shuffling through a picket or a crowd. Each video featured a short report by an activist standing against a ground of blue or yellow--the colors of the Ukrainian flag--and the subjects were framed in such a way that they met the viewer at eye level. Mirroring the palette of the videos, each monitor had either a blue or a yellow panel on its verso. These became backdrops to the viewer's experience, formally inscribing the audience into the piece and situating them in a space that was sympathetic to that of the interviewees; it was the grand aesthetic gesture of the artwork.

The videos address such issues as the history of anti-LGBTI legislation in the Soviet Union, unequal social protections for LGBTI individuals, police violence, and social stigmatization. In one video, Nina Verbytskaya describes her work educating police academy recruits about sensitivity training and other de-escalation methods for respectfully handling situations that involve transsexual and transgendered people. As underscored by the use of the term citizens in Motta's title, a concern running throughout the work is just what kind of state the Ukrainian people are forging in the wake of the revolution. …

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