Officials for the Venice Biennale, the world’s most prestigious art exhibition, have shared assurances that the Ukrainian pavilion will proceed as planned this April, despite the Russian invasion.
The war has devastated most of Ukraine’s major cities and incited a humanitarian crisis that has seen millions attempt to emigrate while countless others remain in the beleaguered nation. In February, Ukrainian artist Pavlo Makov, whose work was to be featured in the exhibition, said he and his team were forced to halt preparations for the trip to Italy. All flights to and from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, have been grounded until further notice.
“We are not in immediate danger, but the situation is critical and changes every minute. Presently, we are not able to continue working on the project of the pavilion due to the danger to our lives,” Makov and curators Lizaveta German, Maira Lanko, and Borys Filonenko previously wrote on Twitter.
At the time of that statement, Makov was sheltering with family in the city Kharkiv, while all three curators remained in Kyiv. Both cities are now under heavy bombardment from the Russian military.
Over the weekend, Biennale officials said that they were “collaborating and will collaborate in every way” with the Ukrainian team to safely transport them and the artwork to Venice, though the biennial didn’t specify how it would ensure this. The Ukrainian team planned to present an updated version of Makov’s 1995 wall-mounted installation The Fountain of Exhaustion, in which water cascades from 78 bronze funnels.
Last week, artist Alexandra Sukhareva and Kirill Savchenkov, as well as curator Raimundas Malašauskas, resigned from the Russian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in protest of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Within Russia, others have vacated posts at museums in protest of the war. Last week, the artistic director of the V-A-C Foundation in Moscow, Francesco Manacorda, shared that he had resigned due to his views on the conflict, and the deputy director of the Pushkin Museum, Vladimir Opredelenov, likewise announced plans to quit his post. Amid a crackdown by Russian authorities on antiwar protests and free speech, there has been suspicion that some art workers who are speaking out against the war are being forcibly ejected from their roles.