I spent the first half of October in Kyiv, Ukraine as an artist participating in a program of temporary public art installations throughout the city, entitled ZAHOLPLENNYA. Within that, my project, called Radio Chain, was more or less a mobile pirate radio network that paraded through the city in the form of a human chain. The project had something to do with the Baltic Way, the MH17 search lines, the radio jamming of the USSR, and the Ukrainian arts foundation that inspired me to examine all that in the first place. Izolyatsia, is that foundation, and among the very few contemporary art and cultural institutions in Ukraine, started in 2010 on the territory of a former insulation materials factory in Donetsk.
Up until a matter of weeks before I arrived, Izolyatsia remained in Donetsk up until their space was violently seized by DPRK militia. They had two hours to take what they could from the space before the DPRK moved in — all they could carry and fit in a carload. The left behind equipment and a collection of significant artworks has all been destroyed by now.
The whole team is in Kyiv now — mostly all are from Donetsk and have been driven from their homes, families, and everything they built there. Still, Izolyatsia is persevering with their mission of supporting the arts and cultural initiatives in Ukraine.
There’s a Robert Smithson essay where he describes the museum as a prison. Of course that essay is tied to an entirely different art-historical moment, but I think many of those ideas ring true today. Izolyatsia’s former territory in Donetsk is *actually* now a prison, but the mission and vision of the foundation is not imprisoned there. They all escaped, they’re still doing their thing, and that is fucking important.
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