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29 Nov Ksenia Malykh: “We are working on the edge of performance”

Being an art curator in Ukraine is more difficult than being an artist. But not all are afraid of difficulties. Dreams come true — Ksenia Malykh knows it best.

How to start

When we started thinking about creating our curatorial association, at first it sounded like an utopian dream. I am, by nature, skeptic, so I wasn’t willing to start my own business. But Olga Bekenshtein with her enormous enthusiasm made me believe that it is possible. I’ve already had experience, lots of contacts, ideas… It would be a pity to lose it all. Plus I saw no other way for me. After M17 we’ve been wandering for a while, then we’ve held the land-art «Springwindfest», and we are willing to do it annually. This is our favorite project. We’ve managed to carry it out practically from nothing, without money, but with excitement. And the people did come, even though it took place on the wasteland in the Poznyaky district. But the support of our friends and artists inspired us. The dreams of our own business turned out to be quite real.

Then we’ve been found by guys, who decided to create the «Closer» art center: a couple of enthusiasts just like us, but in the field of music. They intended to found the center of independent contemporary art in one of the oldest industrial buildings of our country and were looking for partners to manage the section of visual art. It was clear from the very first events that we’re comfortable together. They believed in us. And their confidence only grew stronger, as well as the love of the public. We keep spreading our wings. Frankly speaking, I didn’t expect us to get so many visitors — 2000 per week.

How to keep up

This isn’t easy. We work at the top of our bent and stay afloat thanks to the feedback that we get during events. Though projects bring us a lot of joy, it’s not the only reaction we get: complaints and criticism are the part of our work. But feedback is like gasoline: if you’re filled up, you can drive for a very long time. There are no come-and-go people in «Closer». Our team — it’s the professionals that love what they do.

How to teach

We have always dreamt of lectures. We realized that we wanted advanced studies, but had no time to enter postgraduate program. And we wanted practitioners to be our lectors — not only theorists. We chose and composed our series of lectures in our own interest. Lectures from the «Sound» series were the first free lectures on music in Kyiv.

How to explain

For the «OBRAZ» lectures we invite contemporary painters and offer them to tell about some author. The lecturer’s aim is to recount the author’s works and connect it with contemporary art. There are many ways to do this. Thanks to that, you get a complete picture of art, understand its continuity. And contemporary art needs to be explained — especially its context. We are not snobs. That’s why every time we learn many new things. This is a true happiness, when your work pushes you farther.

How to make a living

«Closer» lives off weekend parties and the bar. All the rest are curators’ initiatives. This lets me and Olga do what we want instead of worrying if enough people come… Our goal is to bring up our own audience that will be ready to perceive contemporary art and experimental music.

How to work with artists

We participated in Art Kiev Contemporary as curators of Alina Maksimenko’s installation «Exodus». Alina is a painter, so this is not a typical exhibition for «Closer». Over the past year we displayed only 4 canvases. But Alina Maksimenko is in the stage of discovery. She experiments with new media, but doesn’t lose her individuality, her unique style. For us it’s an important experience in supporting the artist who decided to break with the tradition and try something new.

What to do next

The gallery’s schedule is already crowded in till summer. On one hand, we’ve plenty of ideas, on the other — projects don’t fall from the skies, we have to look for them. We don’t take money for exhibitions, and we don’t accept paintings. We don’t work to sell something or to please someone. First of all we’re honest with ourselves, because we know why we do this.

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