26 April — 24 June 2017
All the works by Ukrainian avant-garde artists were generously lent by London-based collectors James Butterwick and Vladimir Tsarenkov.
26 April — 24 June 2017
Curated by Nikita Kadan
Photographs by Natalia Tarasova
Postponed Futures displays works by the most prolific artists of the Ukrainian avant-garde, three active contemporary artists and one writer. It attempts to view the avant-garde through contemporary art – and, in turn, contemporary art through the avant-garde.
This exhibition is based on the firm belief that, in telling the history of the arts, one must also tell the history of society. As a result, this exhibition is also about Ukraine; the Ukraine of today and of a century ago.
It is not the aim of this exhibition to give a detailed academic overview of the 'Ukrainian avant-garde'. The artists and the curator are certain that the definition of Ukrainian avant-garde (derived from the broader 'Russian avant-garde' which unites any avant-garde art practices on the territories of the former Russian Empire or Soviet republics) is totally justified. Nevertheless, the practices of this particular strand of the avant-garde require both greater visibility and a diversification of responses to it, including the interpretations of contemporary artists. It will, perhaps, take a significant amount of time to supplement the lack of serious academic publications and exhibitions on the subject of the Ukrainian avant-garde – but we must begin with what we have.
At the same time, we recall the universal, international nature of the artistic avant-garde and its close connection with radical, liberating political movements. We realise that the existence of 'Russian', 'Ukrainian' or any other national avant-garde is a consequence of the incomplete fulfilment of the avant-garde intention, and that art history is very much beholden to the realpolitik of a divided world. Still, while the 'Russian avant-garde' exists, we must insist on a distinct Ukrainian one. The latter was repressed in the 1930s with particular cruelty, as a result of a return to a centralised and authoritarian form of rule in an inversion of the earlier soviet policy of Ukrainisation. This memory lays the foundation for our exhibition and evolves, among other issues, through the context of an ongoing military conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Today is a time of crisis of political imagination. Where such imagination is present its ability to consider and plan a different social structure clashes with the present negativity and the joy of desperation – it introduces the possibility of a revolution.
If the artists of the historical avant-garde frequently turned to the planning of a new type of social interaction, if their oeuvre had a paradigm of reaching the future, then one of the defining qualities of contemporary art is the absence of a future, 'nofuturism'. Not to plan a better tomorrow, but to persevere through conflict, to stand with dignity in the face of history, to persist –Postponed Futures presents a contemporary response to the avant-gardes fixation with the future, since they could not wait for it.
All the works by Ukrainian avant-garde artists have been generously lent by London-based collectors James Butterwick and Vladimir Tsarenkov.
25 May 2017
Join us for a roundtable discussion between two leading Ukrainian artists Nikita Kadan and Mykola Ridnyi and distinguished art-historian and journalist Konstantin Akinsha chaired by Tate's Senior curator Kasia Redzisz.