Statement From The Ukrainian Pavilion Team At The 2022 Venice Biennale

7 March 2023 - one response

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the curators of the Ukrainian pavilion and artist Pavlo Makov released the following statement:

Dear friends, colleagues and art community.

The curators of the pavilion as well as the artist Pavlo Makov have received many incoming inquiries from the press and colleagues. We would like to address some of the inquiries on our behalf and clarify the situation.

The following does not represent the position and intentions of the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, but a personal stand of the team behind the pavilion.

Ukraine has been invaded. The Russian Federation attacked a peaceful independent nation of Ukraine. Our lives, the lives of our beloved ones as well as everything we stand for—peace, freedom, democracy, culture—have been endangered.

Our team is scattered all around Ukraine: Kharkiv, Kyiv and Lviv. We also have a team member outside of Ukraine.

At the moment this statement has been published, 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.

All the international flights from and to Ukraine are canceled. Traveling around the country is risky.

We are determined to represent Ukraine at the 59th Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, but not everything depends on us. If the situation changes, and it is safe to continue our work and travel, we will be in Venice. We can not confirm yet that our project will be completed, but we can promise that we will do everything possible to save unique artwork produced by Pavlo Makov and our big team specially for the upcoming biennial during the past 5 months, and to represent Ukraine in the international contemporary art scene the way it deserves to be represented.

We call for the international artistic community to use all our impact in order to stop the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Guns may hurt our bodies, but culture changes our minds. This war is a clash of civilizations—a free and civilized world is attacked by the barbarian and aggressive one. If we continue being passive observers of the situation, we will lose everything we work for and all the heritage of our predecessors—art, love, freedom of expression and the ability to create.

Stand with Ukraine in this challenging time.

With hope,
Pavlo Makov
Lizaveta German
Maira Lanko
Borys Filonenko


At the same time we inform about resignation of Raimundas Malasauskas from the position of Curator Of The Russian Pavilion. Known notably for his work on Lithuanian Pavilion in Venice in 2013 and “Black Market Worlds” the IX Baltic Triennial Raimundas Malasauskas has issued the following statement:

Today I resigned from the position of Curator of the Russian Pavilion for the 59th Venice Biennale, which was scheduled to open in April of this year.

My admiration and gratitude remain with the Russian artists Alexandra Sukhareva and Kirill Savchenkov, with whom I have been working to develop the project for the biennale. However, I cannot advance on working on this project in light of Russia’s military invasion and bombing of Ukraine. This was is politically and emotionally unbearable. As you know, I was born and formed in Lithuania when it was part of the Soviet Union. I hav lived through the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1989, and have witnessed and enjoyed my country’s development ever since. The idea of going back to or forward with living under a Russian or any other empire is simply intolerable.

Before signing off, I share that my conversations with Alexandra and Kirill while developing the biennale project constantly inspired new ways of seeing both the past and the future as we intently experience our present. The and so many other brilliant Russian artists are committed to the freedom of thinking, despite the fact that they live in an increasingly repressive context. i explicitly oppose the current assault and subjugation commanded by Russia. I also believe that people from Russia should not be bullied or cast-away solely due to their country’s oppressive policies and actions. I want to avoid flat-falling divisions, and instead advocate for multi-leveled forms of solidarity where there are international forums for art and artists from Russian to express the freedom that they can’t express at home. It is not easy to live among warmongers, least of all so for those who explore ways of being outside of normative structured.

Thank you for your understanding and support.

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  1. Agata Jakubowska

    La Biennale di Venezia announces that it is collaborating and will collaborate in every way with the National Participation of Ukraine in the 59th International Art Exhibition (23 April – 27 November 2022) to ensure the presence of the artist and his team with his work, which he is strongly committed to complete despite the tragic situation in Ukraine.

    La Biennale di Venezia intends thereby to manifest its full support to the Ukrainian people and to its artists, and express its firm condemnation of the unacceptable military aggression by Russia.

    La Biennale is also close to all those in Russia who are courageously protesting against the war. Among them, artists and authors in every discipline, many of whom have been guests of La Biennale in the past. La Biennale di Venezia will not shut its doors to those who defend freedom of expression and demonstrate against the despicable and unacceptable decision to attack a sovereign state and its defenceless people. For those who oppose the current regime in Russia there will always be a place in the exhibitions of La Biennale, from Art to Architecture, and in its festivals, from Cinema to Dance, from Music to Theatre.

    As long as this situation persists, La Biennale rejects any form of collaboration with those who on the contrary have carried out or supported such a grievous act of aggression, and will therefore not accept the presence at any of its events of official delegations, institutions or persons tied in any capacity to the Russian government.

    La Biennale is following the events of the war as it unfolds in Ukraine with apprehension, in the hope that international diplomacy will quickly negotiate a mutually agreed solution that will put an end to the death and suffering of an entire people and restore full freedom of action and movement to the world of culture.”

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