Module of Temporality (MOT) is part of this process of maintaining the Ukrainian art scene amid the Russian invasion. Image Credit: "Don't take Fake"U
kraine is struggling to protect its cultural heritage from the Russian army, nearly a year after the start of the invasion. Although many significant sites have already been damaged or demolished, cultural life is striving to continue in the country.Module of Temporality (MOT) is part of this process of maintaining the Ukrainian art scene. This new project from the agency Don't Take Fake is, in fact, a temporary exhibition space located in the historic district of Podil, in Kyiv. It takes the form of a two-storey building made from 27 metal containers.
From February 17 to May 14, this new kind of space will host an international exhibition structured around the works of nearly 30 artists from 10 countries. Among them are French artists JR and Tania Mouraud, French-Algerian artist Adel Abdessemed, India's Subodh Gupta, as well as Ukraine's Waone Interesni Kazki, Zhanna Kadyrova and Alexey Kondakov. Their multidisciplinary creations take the visitor on "an intense and sensual journey with a theme of ‘Temporality’ that captures the fluidity of the present moment," explains exhibition curator Fabrice Bousteau, in a statement. Some of these pieces will then be auctioned at a yet-to-be-announced date, along with other works by some of the 28 artists exhibited at the MOT. Proceeds from the auction will go to a fund, which will be used to restore and preserve monuments, museums and heritage sites throughout Ukraine. Profits from the MOT gift store and ticket sales will also go into this fund. Also read: Museums are questioning the fate of mummies and other human remains in their collections
Cultural heritage under threat
This initiative aims to revitalize the Ukrainian cultural scene, at a time when it is paying a heavy price as a result of the Russian invasion. "[The MOT] is our attempt to capture the fluidity of life and its time in art, to show the uncertainty while supporting the desire to keep living, creating, and fighting," said Don't Take Fake.
Many Ukrainian cultural professionals are mobilizing to preserve their national heritage in times of war. Some of them have been working with European art institutions, such as the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, the Kunstmuseum Basel and the Musée Rath in Geneva to evacuate Ukrainian works of art, which could have been damaged or looted if they had not been removed to safety. And there is an urgent need to act. Russian troops reportedly looted the Oleksiy Shovkunenko Art Museum in Kherson as they withdrew from the city on November 11, 2022. Also read: How the Russian authorities have contemporary art in their sights
The event highlights how the threat of looting has been "current and systematically executed" since the beginning of the Russian invasion, as stated by the International Council of Museums. The scale of the situation led the organization to publish a "Red List of Cultural Objects at Risk in Ukraine" in November, listing some 50 kinds of particularly endangered objects. It is a tool that ICOM hopes will be "relevant and effective" in the identification of looted and stolen cultural objects from Ukraine.
Some international experts are concerned about the scale of the threat to Ukraine's cultural heritage. They even say it could be the largest mass theft of art since the Nazi regime's plundering of works of art during World War II, according to the New York Times.