Curator of Permanent Revolution project Alisa Lozhkina: “Now an excellent allegorical name for Ukrainian art could be ‘a cap of invisibility’”

25 March 2018

On April 5 in Ludwig Museum, a contemporary art museum in Budapest, a wide-scale project Permanent Revolution opens with the support of Zenko Foundation as exhibition co-organizer. For the first time, Ukrainian art will be presented in European museum space.  

Curators Alisa Lozhkina and Konstantin Akinsha are telling about the project.


What are the goal and tasks of Permanent Revolution project? What is its distinguishing feature?

Alisa Lozhkina: The primary purpose of the project is to present Ukrainian art to the European audience. Unfortunately, during the long years of independence popularizing our culture abroad hasn’t been in the priorities of our state. Naturally, we have private initiatives to change the situation, among them  PinchukArtCentre and Izolyatsiya art fund. Presently Zenko Foundation is also active in this domain, organizing the exhibition in Hungary. And the exhibition is to take place at one of the best European art platforms.

Konstantin Akinsha: Permanent Revolution is a big presentation of Ukrainian contemporary art in Hungary. Paradoxical as it may sound, neighboring countries don’t know anything about each other. Fortunately, Ludwig Museum curator and director Julia Fabenyi is genuinely interested in Central European art, which still hasn’t been tangibly represented in European museums. The fact that our aspirations coincided allowed us to implement this project in a museum founded by a famous international art fund of Peter and Irene Ludwig; museums in Vienna, Beijing, and Cologne also bear their names.

Mykyta Shalenniy, Black Siberia

How did you arrive at the exhibition’s concept?

Alisa Lozhkina: Everything started from our meeting museum director Julia Fabenyi at Zenko Platform cultural forum in 2016. Zenko Aftanaziv invited a lot of experts to this event, namely professors and museum directors from Europe, to discuss the prospects of international cultural collaborations and possible joint projects. We discussed the angle to be chosen, which would help the international audience become familiar with Ukrainian art. 

Konstantin Akinsha: The portrait of Ukrainian art is the portrait of Ukrainian society, and this is our concept. I can say that implementation of such projects globally is very challenging. The main problem is in the lack of financial support. It is great that Permanent Revolution has obtained this support from Peter and Irene Ludwig fund and Zenko Foundation in Ukraine; without them, the exhibition wouldn’t be possible.  


Why does the global art reflection on the phenomenon of Ukrainian art happen only in 2018?

Alisa Lozhkina: I wouldn’t call that a global reflection, but this is still a serious piece of work, an attempt to showcase a cultural layer which hasn’t yet been widely presented in European museum space.

Konstantin Akinsha: After obtaining its independence, Ukraine has long been in cultural isolation – by the way, only with itself to blame. Now I am in Germany, I talk to museum directors and do general raising-awareness work. I can say only one thing: Ukrainian art is a “tabula rasa” even for a professional audience.  

Roman Mykhailov

Why is there a need to present the project in Ludwig Museum? Why is this exhibition space unique?

Alisa Lozhkina: The uniqueness of Ludwig Museum is its enormous collection of globally renowned art: it contains works by Picasso, Lichtenstein, and Rauschenberg. Showing the works by Ukrainian artists here is a critical step towards recognition of our contemporary art.

Konstantin Akinsha: The significance of this venue is very high for me. I wanted to showcase the project in Budapest specifically, and in this city, the function of contemporary art presentation has been delegated to Ludwig Museum.


Does Permanent Revolution showcase a connection between art and politics?  

Alisa Lozhkina: Naturally, but without a strict narrative and ready-made answers, as this is an open-ended story. We aspired for conveying the feeling of anxiety and disaster chasing us all and reflected in artworks. Take, for example, a project by Boris Mikhailov to be presented at the exhibition. The Red Series was created in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It tellingly demonstrates the dominance of red color in Soviet everyday life where it becomes practically invisible, growing into our routine.

Konstantin Akinsha: The project has a lot of art associated with politics, but we have selected works with philosophical, aesthetical, and visual impact in addition to that. In my opinion, in Ukraine there is no art, which would be entirely beyond politics.

Yevgen Nikiforov On Republic's Monuments

Is the exhibition divided into separate blocks by meanings?

Alisa Lozhkina: There is a distinct route dictated by the museum architecture. We do not divide works using historical, artistic or thematic principles; we merely build out emotional nodes.


Konstantin Akinsha: We tried to create not blocks of meaning, but a single story built according to a formal principle. Even when we compiled the project catalog, we kept a specific dramaturgy in it. By the way, the catalog also contains an essay by Sergiy Zhadan explaining what Ukraine is and another similar text written by Andreas Kappeler, a Swiss historian.  


Are you ready for critique from European art community?

Alisa Lozhkina: It would be amazing; the worst is silence and indifference from the professional community, as now an excellent allegorical name for Ukrainian art could be “a cap of invisibility.”

Konstantin Akinsha: I am more than ready and look forward to hearing the critique. I am expecting reactions, questions, and discussions.  

Yurii Leiderman, Igor Chatskin

What are your expectations from Permanent Revolution project?

Konstantin Akinsha: I hope that the project serves as a catalyst and we will become of interest for directors of global museums, curators, collectors, and viewers through presenting our art. We hope that Zenko Foundation will continue its collaboration with European cultural institutions and experts, showing our art at European art platforms.  

Alisa Lozhkina: We are planning to further popularize Ukrainian art. As mentally Ukraine exists on a solitary island, the lack of dialogue and interaction with another context might lead to the total marginalization of Ukrainian cultural processes.


Interview was published by CHERNOZEM.

Full text of the interview (in Ukrainian) is available here.