fri diptychs from the latest photographic series by Boris Mikhailov temptation of death will be prominently displayed on billboards on the facades and entrances of cultural institutions in Basel as well as in the town hall. The public art project will be presented alongside a film program organized by Ksenia Malykh, head of the PinchukArtCentre research platform in Kyiv. Presented daily at Theater Basel, the program features works by Oleksandr Roitburd, a participant in the Ukrainian New Wave movement, as well as films by a younger generation of artists creating a fragmented portrait of today’s Ukraine. today.
Born in 1938, Boris Mikhailov grew up in Soviet Ukraine. His early work moved along the boundaries of political and social norms testing the boundaries of what can be described as forbidden images in Soviet times. He witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rebirth of an independent Ukraine. Throughout his life, Mikhailov devoted himself to tracing historical developments and their consequences. At its core, Mikhailov is a critical storyteller, enabling a broad and complex understanding of reality.
temptation of death (2017-2019) consists of over 150 pairs of images, in which the artist combines his distinct autobiographical voice with dark social premonition. Going through his archive of performative photographs and traces of remnants of the Soviet Union, he creates a series of visual poems, looking his own life – and the death of the Soviet Union – in the eye. With his extensive photographic series, Mikhailov, flâneur in the sense of Walter Benjamin, poet and ragpicker, captured memories of a bygone era. This is all the more relevant today as Putin’s war on Ukraine is also destroying Soviet heritage as part of Ukraine’s physical reality and psychological identity.
Curated by Björn Geldhof, Artistic Director of PinchukArtCentre, temptation of death thus becomes a swan song of a bygone era. To some extent, this also applies to the historical video piece Psychedelic invasion of the battleship Potyomkin in the tautological hallucinations of Sergey Eisenstein (1998) by Oleksandr Roitburd, bringing together the past and the present, the classic and the contemporary, which will be presented at the Theater Basel. But what is a culmination is also a new beginning, embodied by four video pieces by young Ukrainian artists Dana Kavelina, Yarema Malashchuk and Roman Khimei; Daniil Revkovsky and Andriy Rachinskiy; and the Open Group collective. In fragments, the artists create a collective portrait of today’s Ukraine, studying it through their own bodies, trauma and imagination.
The President of the Canton of Basel-Stadt Beat Jans says: “The government of the canton of Basel-Stadt welcomes the initiative to offer Ukrainian artists a highly visible platform during Art Basel. This sends an important signal so that we do not forget the ongoing war and the associated suffering of Ukrainian society.
Björn Geldhof, Artistic Director of PinchukArtCentre says: “Ukrainians have consistently chosen freedom and consistently chosen values that are dear to all of us. Ukrainian art and artists have been at the forefront of this choice. From the first critical and subversive photographer Boris Mikhailov to the youngest generation of filmmakers. Their work is part of today’s Ukraine, a Ukraine fighting for its survival and the survival of our common values.
The project is a collaboration between PinchukArtCentre; Canton of Basel-Stadt; Art Basel; Beyeler Foundation; Theater Basel; Kunstmuseum Basel; Kunsthalle Basel; Kaserne Basel; Kunsthaus Baselland; Haus der Elektronischen Künste; Listing ; I Never Read, Basel Art Book Fair.
Program of the film “The battleship and the catamaran”
The program of the film will be screened in a loop in the Foyer of the Theater Basel every day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Tuesday June 14 to Sunday June 19, 2022. Admission is free. No ticket required.
Oleksandr Roitburd, Psychedelic invasion of the battleship Potyomkin in the tautological hallucinations of Sergey Eisenstein1998, 9’17”
Yarema Malashchuk and Roman Khimei, The Vagabond2022, 8’52”
Daniil Revkovskiy and Andriy Rachinskiy,Clicking, arguing, pounding and gurgling2020, 10′
Open group, View at 1000 km. Part 12015, 23’36”
Dana Kavelina, We fought for six years, then it was covered with snow, and in the spring they erected a monument to the hero2020, 3’16”
List of artists
Born in 1938 in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Boris Mikhailov is one of the most important chroniclers of everyday life in a (post-)Soviet society. Mikhailov studied electrical engineering at a technical university and began to work as an engineer. He taught himself photography in the late 1960s. Mikhailov’s early series of the 1960s and 1970s most often depicted personal images of friends, acquaintances, and female partners of the artist. The world he captures – scenes of everyday life, poverty, sexuality, despair, resignation and the decline of a forgotten Eastern Europe – is always raw and unvarnished. Mikhailov always focused on strangers to society. His works have been presented worldwide in countless individual and group exhibitions, in institutions such as Sprengel Museum, Hannover (2013), Berlinische Galerie, Berlin (2012), Museum of Modern Art, New York (2011), Tate Modern, London (2010), Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2010) and in the Ukrainian Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia (2007). Boris Mikhailov lives and works in Kharkiv and Berlin.
Oleksandr Roitburd (1961 – 2021) was a participant of the Ukrainian New Wave and co-founder of Ukrainian Theory Transavantgard. He has worked as a painter and installation artist, among other things with video and photo projects. He belongs to the first wave of post-independence, post-Soviet and post-traditional Ukrainian artists.
Based in Kolomyya, Ukraine, Yarema Malashchuk and Roman Khimei work at the border between visual arts and cinema as artists, directors and cinematographers. In their work they explore the image of the crowd as a distinct character in history and culture. In 2018, they won a special prize and a main prize (2020) at the PinchukArtCentre prize.
Born in 1995 in Melitopol, Dana Kavelina in 2018 obtained a master’s degree from the National Technical University of Ukraine at the Faculty of Book Graphics. She works in animation and video, as well as installation, painting and graphic design. She works primarily on military violence, using a gender perspective, as well as on trauma and collective memory. In 2018 the animated film About Mark Lvovich Tyulpanov, who spoke with flowers”won the Special Jury Prize at OIFF, Odessa, Ukraine and the Grand Prize at KROK Festival, Moscow, Russia; in 2020 the film “Letter to the Dove” was included in the “War and Cinema” program of the e-flux magazine.
For an overview of all locations of temptation of deathplease visit: bit.ly/BorisMikhailov_Map