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Kiev biennial gives hope to Ukraine's artists

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July 20, 2012, 11:27 a.m. | Ukraine — by The Art Newspaper

A photo taken on January 11, 2012 shows the monument to Cossack leader Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky in front of the gold domes of the cathedral in Kyiv.
© AFP

Biennial's impressive venue to become museum featuring national and international contemporary art

What is the point of Kiev's international biennial? When this latest addition to the bloated international art circuit was announced earlier this year, it felt like an extreme example of "soft power", with the Ukrainian government exploiting its more appealing assets, such as its cultural heritage, to improve its standing in the international community. After all, if you're going to reinvent a place, why not throw in a biennial for good measure?

If a curator drops into a city, however, pays lip service to its culture, patronises the local population and then disappears, there will be little chance of a lasting legacy. The Kiev Biennale of Contemporary Art (until 31 July) avoids this trap. Based in the striking Mystetskyi Arsenal, a vast former weaponry store, and organised by the British-born curator David Elliott, its trump card is the strong national element of the show with works on display by 22 Ukrainian artists, most of them worthy of their place on this prestigious new platform in Kiev. 

Read more here.

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