What’s the problem with “The Ukrainian Body” ?



Since the closure of the exhibition “ The Ukrainian Body» which was accused of promoting pornography, discussion has been raging over whether this is censorship, a lack of understanding of art or a justified action.

The statement issued by the Visual Culture Research Center, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy can be read below.  The Centre is also circulating a petition demanding that the exhibition be re-opened.

The exhibition was formally closed on 10 February although there are organized press demonstrations which are open to anybody who turns up at the stated time. The events are attended by the curators and authors of the exhibition who explain what they wanted to say with their works.

 The organizers of the petition believe that this is insufficient and want a full re-opening of the exhibition. They say they have already gathered some 350 signatures.

One of those who signed it, writer Andriy Bondar believes that the Dean’s move reflects conflict between “leftwing” and “rightwing” views within the Academy. He says that earlier such exhibitions were the norm.

However journalist Yury Lukanov does not see this as an attack on freedom.  He says that while not defending Serhiy Kit who acted “undiplomatically”, he doesn’t think the exhibition is worth fighting in its defence.

Serhiy Kit says that some of the works can be considered pornographic, so he took measures to ensure that people could not visit the exhibition by chance. While welcoming the discussion, he is adamant that there will not be a second opening of the exhibition.  He does not see it as an appropriate “format” for a university and while there may be people signing the petition, he says that the number of those who protest against it is much higher.

From a report on Radio Svoboda

Statement of the Visual Culture Research Center, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

On February 10, 2012, the president ofNaUKMA (National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy) Serhiy Kvit banned “ The Ukrainian Body, ” an exhibition that explores the problematics of corporality in Ukrainian society, only three days after its opening. The entrance to the gallery [of the Visual Culture Research Center] is now locked. Serhiy Kvit explained his action with the following reasoning: “It’s not an exhibition, it’s shit.”

The consequence of such an action, which we consider to be an unacceptable act of censorship against a public space for dialogue, neglects important social and political problems and suppresses critical reflection. The exhibition, which was slated to close on February 28, presents works by Ukrainian artists Anatoly Belov, Eugenia Belorusets, Oksana Bryukhovetsky, Alexander Volodarsky, Nikita Kadan, Volodymyr Kuznetsov, Liubov Malikov, Lada Nakonechna, Mykola Ridnii , and many others.

We can only hope that such a thoughtless act on the part of the university’s administration was the result of a misunderstanding that can be resolved. We are now petitioning to collect signatures to protest against artistic censorship within the walls of NaUKMA. Please, spread this message. (More can be found about the exhibition itself here.

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