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The 22nd edition of NordArt presented selected paintings and sculptures, photographs, video works and installations by more than 200 artists from all over the world. Each work stood on its own and at the same time in dialogue with the others. The exhibition thrived on the different perspectives of individual cultures, but also made it clear that East and West, South and North share many common hopes and dreams. To deepen the insights, NordArt devotes a special pavilion to a different country each year and presents special projects, cooperates with embassies, cultural institutions and curators from different countries. NordArt is one of the largest exhibitions of contemporary art in Europe and is conceived annually by Chief Curator Wolfgang Gramm since 1999.

The country focus of NordArt 2021 was Ukraine. The life-sized sculptures, made by Maria Kulikovska in collaboration with Uleg Vinnichenko, opened the space of Ukrainian pavilion. Among them were presented 6 soap figures, shot by Maria Kulikovska during her performance "Let Me Say: It's Not Forgotten" for the Ukrainian-Swiss film "The Forgotten" directed by Daria Onyshchenko in 2019. Also were exhibited one sculptural figure from the "Carpe Diem" series, made of epoxy resin with different objects inside in 2018 and the three soap busts with flowers inside from the series "880". At the top of this beautiful army of Kulikovska's clones was "My Second Xena.Rebirth" - the first common sculpture, created in 2016 together with Oleh Vinnichenko - an architect-engineer, husband and muse of Maria Kulikovska. By the way, Maria Kulikovska became one of five favorite artists of The Public Choice Award of NordArt 2021.

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The Borders of Reality

The world is going through a global collapse caused by the pandemic. It challenges the health care system, global economy, systems of communication and values that have formed over millennia. However, visual art, as a method and form, continues to provide a universal platform and remains the metalanguage of the future. New challenges, tension hotspots that are constantly emerging all over the world, are a testament to the need to modernise conventional transnational and national interactions since the ongoing collisions between contrasting realities of disparate communities have become intolerable. Each side of the conflict has its own vision of justice, so its actions are logical within its worldview.

In this context, Ukraine becomes a place of turmoil between European traditions, the disintegration of a metropolis, the formation of a modern nation and the conflict with state sovereignty. It is a place of questionable media objectivity and online manipulations and a testing ground for international law. A developing country with unstable economical and liberal institutions becomes a marker for discredited humanitarian norms, however, similar historical global developments enable us to foresee the future. 'Sand' is a good visual metaphor for the Ukrainian project. Sand is simultaneously unreliable yet eternal, unstable yet resistant to natural stress, a giant ecosystem, an organism made of billions of identical particles.

Art asks questions and seeks answers. What does it mean to be a human without the borders of reality? We witness how art analyses the newly learnt lessons and compares them with cultural legacies of the past in order to develop a new conceptual system for navigating in a world where realities of dissolving boundaries collide, overlap, conflict, and seek understanding.

Press release for exhibition by curators of the Ukrainian pavilion Evgen Karas and Darina Momot

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