What he has facilitated is much more important. Seven artists and collectives take part in “Hope!”—
, Mykola Ridnyi & Serhiy Zhadan,
, Anna Zvyagintseva, and
—all of whom graduated since the Orange Revolution of 2004. The show takes a mostly documentary approach. (The pavilion mirrors a revival of artist-as-witness that has stuck out as a tendency across the Biennale, supplanting the research-based practices that have dominated critical discussion since dOCUMENTA (13) three years ago.) Particularly of note are Belorusets’s photographs of miners in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region, which is currently controlled by neither the government nor the rebel forces. Likewise Open Group’s nine-channel video piece and performance, which streams a feed of the front doors of soldiers drafted to take part in the ongoing conflict until they eventually come home, one member of the collective sitting vigil in front of the screens, on hunger strike until all return.
For Geldorf, and by proxy Pinchuk, the gravity of the project and its potential outcomes weighs heavy. “It is a great responsibility to do this now in Venice,” says the curator. “A lot of opinion makers come here, and one of the biggest challenges for Ukraine right now is to change public opinion.” Geldorf doesn’t shy away from the political intent of his project, explaining it is specifically aimed at counteracting information put out by the Kremlin about the situation in Ukraine’s east, among other things. “A lot of people have realized the soft power of art,” Geldorf adds, acknowledging that in Ukraine, as in other countries, this has been abused in the past. However, “Hope!” aims towards “freedom to critical messages and critical thinking,” both for itself and for their country at large.