Court Experiment (Kyiv)

Visual Culture Research Center, the Center for Social Research, and Hudrada Curatorial Union in cooperation with

12 October – 12 November 2010, Kyiv

Court Experiment

Court Experiment is a statement against the judicial prosecution of Ukrainian activists for expressing disagreement with existing injustices. It is an action of solidarity with prosecuted activists Yevgenia Belorusets, Andriy Movchan, Serhiy Movchan and Olexandr Wolodarsky, whose trials have been going on for years. The project started with visits to the court hearings by people who wanted to express their support for the accused activists. Among them were activists, journalists, academics, and artists.

Court Experiment is an attempt to attract public attention both to these concrete cases of prosecution and more generally to the judicial system, which as part of the capitalist economy is an instrument of violence and injustice. The second important goal of the exhibition is to reveal the real things against which the activists protested – the destructive expansion of capital in the social sphere and the increase of moral censorship as an authoritarian symptom – framing them in the wider context of the political, cultural, and social circumstances inherent to post-Soviet society.

The exhibition consists of works by artists and documentation of the court hearings, which has been made collectively. Only documentary materials will be presented at the opening; later, the space will gradually fill with individual works by artists. The process of filling the space will be accompanied by discussions, screenings, performances, and seminars. Court Experiment is an installation-in-process, which by imitating the cyclical unfolding of the trials against the activists addresses the subjects of political action within the field of articulation between art, knowledge, and politics.

The exhibition presents works by Yevgeniya Belorusets, David Chichkan, Ksenia Hnylytska, Nikita Kadan, Yulia Kostereva, Yuriy Kruchak, Vasyl Lozynskyy, Lada Nakonechna, Mykola Ridniy, Oleksiy Salmanov, Oleksandr Wolodarsky, and Anna Zvyagintseva. The court drawings, photos, and installation of documentary material have been produced by Anatoliy Belov, Yevgeniya Belorusets, Oleksandr Burlaka, Nikita Kadan, Dmytro Myronchuk, Viktor Wolodarsky, and Anna Zvyagintseva. The exhibition is organized by the Hudrada Curatorial Union.


12 October, Tuesday

18.30 Opening: presentation of documentary material from the court cases against Yevgenia Belorusets, Andriy Movchan, Serhiy Movchan, and Olexandr Wolodarsky.

18.30 Speeches by the organizers.

16 October, Saturday

17.30 Presentation of works by Ksenia Hnylytska, Lada Nakonechna, and Oleksiy Salmanov.

18.00 Discussion: Post-Soviet Capitalism and the Repressive State Apparatus

Olga Bryukhovetska (moderator)

Vitaliy Atanasov (journalist and socialist activist, Kyiv)

Ukrainian Independence and Dependency Development

Ilya Budraitskis (political activist, historian, journalist, art critic, Moscow)

Restoration in Russia: State, Violence, Economy

20.00 Screening: The Grenelle Agreements, Learning Film Group, 2009

In 2009, art critic, writer and anthropologist David Riff joined the team of Yevgeny Fiks, Ilya Budraitskis and Nikolay Oleynikov to research an episode from 1968 – the so called Grenelle Agreements – along with a group of restaurant workers from a shopping center in Moscow.

12 October, Tuesday

18.30 Presentation of works by David Chichkan, Nikita Kadan, Yulia Kostereva, Yuriy Kruchak, and Olexandr Wolodarsky.

19.00 Performance: Kyiv Vice: Militia of Mores

Vasyl Lozynskyy reads his poetry, which reflects on the paradoxical relevance of the TV series Miami Vice for Ukraine in conditions of the increasing moral censorship.

19.30 Discussion: Should Artists Have the Privilege of Immunity?

Oleksiy Radynsky, Vasyl Cherepanyn (moderators)

The criminal charges against Oleksandr Wolodarsky confronted Ukrainian artists with a difficult choice: should they take responsibility (in the broad meaning of the term, including criminal liability) for their actions? Or should they develop the prevailing romantic notion of the artist that situates them outside the mundane world? The discussion aims to elaborate on the notion of immunity for artists, as derived from the infamous law of immunity that is an official privilege of Ukrainian members of parliament.

22 October, Friday

18.00 Introduction

Gijs Kessler (International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam)

Global Labor History: From Workers’ Strikes to Workers’ Movement

18.30 Workers’ Strikes in Contemporary Ukraine

Vitaliy Atanasov (moderator)

Volodymyr Ishchenko, Okasana Dutchak (Center for Social Research, editors of Commons, a journal of social criticism, Kyiv).

Class Struggle in Ukraine: Results of Monitoring Protests.

Oleksiy Klyashtornyi (activist and co-organizer of the Poltava Mining strike, People’s Solidarity trade union, Kyiv)

Should We “Politically Bury” the Proletariat?

Zakhar Popovich (activist, participant in Poltava Mining strike, Kyiv)

Problems of Solidarity among Labor Unions and Politicization of Labor Protests Using the Example of the Poltava Mining Plant

Denis Levin (activist and co-organizer of the Poltava Mining strike, People’s Solidarity trade union, Kyiv)

Is the Workers’ Movement Capable of Self-Organizing to Defend Its Economic Rights?

20.30 Screening of video documentation of the Poltava Mining strike, Summer 2010

Presented by Andriy Metliov (philosopher and new media researcher, Kyiv).

23 October, Saturday

17.30 Presentation of works by Yevgeniya Belorusets, Nikita Kadan, Mykola Ridniy, and Anna Zvyagintseva.

18.00 Discussion: The Global Economic Crisis and Workers’ Strikes

Anastasiya Riabchuk (moderator)

Mihai Varga (political scientist, University of Amsterdam)

Political Involvement in Industrial Conflict in Ukraine during the World Economic Crisis, 2008-2010

Marko Bojcun (Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Governance and International Relations at London Metropolitan University, member of the Institute for the Study of European Transformations, and member of the Global Policy Institute)

Is It Over Yet? The Long-Term Consequences of the Global Economic Crisis for

26 October, Tuesday

17.30 Screening: Artur Żmijewski. From the Selected Works: Aldo, Giuseppe, Salvatore, Ursula, Patricia, Dieter, Dorota, Danuta, Halina, Jolanda (2006-2007)

Labor has taken the place of sex atop the list of “obscene” practices that cannot be displayed on screen. No wonder that in today’s Hollywood movies, physical labor is done exclusively by terrorists. In his Selected Works, Artur Żmijewski instrumentalizes the method of cinéma vérité to visualize the “obscene| labor of modern workers.

1 – 6 November, Monday – Friday

Conference: The Cinematic Dispositif: The Moving Image in the Social Context

In cooperation with the Center of Cinema Studies and the Molodist International Film Festival

If film is not just a medium but also a social practice, then the question perhaps should be formulated differently: how it is possible by making and analyzing cinema to analyze society and its ideology?
The cinematic dispositif does not represent reality but the real circumstances of our existence: the fact that we always already belong to the social dispositifs within which we act. This elucidates the meaning of the call made by Roland Barthes to invert our perspective: not to look for ideology in films, but to see ideology as the “cinema of society.”

9 November, Tuesday

17.30 Press conference on the results of the competition for the best journalist work Against Torture!

18.15 Discussion: Torture within the Ukrainian Police: Reasons, Frequency, Effects, Irresponsibility. How to Stop It?

Organized by the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

Discussion participants: Andriy Dydenko (coordinator of programs, KhPG), Evgen Zakharov (co-chair, KhPG), Oleg Levytsky (lawywer), Kateryna Levchenko (director, La Strada International Woman’s Center for Protection of Human Rights, Ukraine), Denys Kobzin (Director, Kharkiv Institute of Social Studies), Ludmyla Koval (expert, KhPG).

12 November, Friday


Hudrada Curatorial Union is a self-organized, interdisciplinary community that began working in 2008. It consists of young artists, architects, activists, writers, and academics. The projects organized by Hudrada aim to create space for collective speech actions. Hudrada’s first public statement was the project Views, which was made in 2009 with the support from the Foundation of the Center of Contemporary Art.

The Center for Social Research is an independent, non-commercial center for the research of social problems and collective protests. It unites engaged social researchers and activists to develop public social science —publicly meaningful knowledge for the non-academic audience. Since 2009, the CSR has conducted a systematic monitoring of all protest events in Ukraine and the response of the authorities to them.

Visual Culture Research Center is a platform for analysis of current conditions in  art, knowledge, and politics. VCRC emerged in 2008 as an institutionalization of  activities held by a group of scholars and students in the Department of Cultural Studies at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Court Experiment is a part of the ongoing project Visual Dispositif — Social Dispositif, launched in April 2010 with the support of


National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
Kyiv, 2 Skovorody Str.
Staroakademichniy building, first floor

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Filed under activism, alternative education, art exhibitions, contemporary art, critical thought, political repression, protests, trade unions

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