Today, it is 18 March 2011 . It’s the 2nd day Wilfried is in Kharkiv (Ukraine). He arrived already on 16 March coming from Kiew. He will continue the event – CologneOFF 2011 Ukraine – in the million city Kharkiv – located close to the Russian border. In Soviet times, Charkov belonged to the most important Russian industrial areas of the national steel industry. Nowadays, Kharkiv is the Ukrainian hotspot for higher education hosting more than 40 universities. After the political change, in Kharkiv established the first municipal art gallery for contemporary art, and so Wilfried is collaborating the biggest university, National V.N Karazin University andthe CologneOFF2011 event lasting three days presenting art video bringing artists from all over the world to the Eastern Ukraine – the feeled end of the civilized world.
The new spirit Wilfried is carrying is less his focus on art and moving images, it is his idea to present a diversity of different artistic and curatorial concepts and the change of perceiving art through the activation of the audience. Of course, this is in first place an intellectual challenge, because Wilfried is presenting a wide range of different curatorial points of view, signalizing that differently than in totalitarian structures there is not that one curator manipulating the audience by dictating the world what art is, but there are many curators and the audience is encouraged to make its opinion by comparing, by becoming this way the actual curator. It is that kind of emancipation of art and audience through its activation which already the “art professionals” Wilfried was meeting in Kiev did not understand, the ladies of the Media Art Lab and Center for Contemporary Art growing up studying art history in Soviet Russia had completely antiquated ideas about art, for them the democratization in dealing with culture was a mere provocation, how will it be in Kharkiv?
Wilfried is staying in a nice hotel close to the Municipal Art Gallery. One of the curators, Yaroslava is caring for Wilfried as the guest from Germany. She is joining him in the breakfast room, where they talk about the schedule of the day. She is reporting about the good feedback she got from the opening on the evening before, and that the screening will start today on 18 March at 1 p.m. without Wilfried, because there are much more important appointments – at 11 a.m. the
– a local institution related to public relations of the municipality and the university – later on 3.p.m. a presentation and round table is scheduled at Media Communication Department of the National Karazin University and at 7 p.m. there will be another talk at the Municipal Art Gallery later at 18h.
At the university, Wilfried is welcomed by the head of the department, Lidia Starodubtseva, she is showing him the different rooms for presentation and round table and she and Wilfried will have some nice inspiring talks. Wilfried seems to be a strange person, his status is not completely clear, he is something between an academic, and institutional leader and an artist or combining all in one person? He is addressed as a professor, nobody wants to make anything wrong, but at the same time people is fascinated, that he obvious has no academic affiliation, but is presenting himself as an independent cultural instance, a festival and museum director and what else, yet. But the most important seems to be the selection of art videos he is presenting, because it is a demonstration of Wilfried’s specific kind of curatorship – activating the audience through diversity. Later the talks with students are about that topic, even if the selection of nine videos is allowing only a marginal insight in the subject matter, all agree that the most relevant issue cannot be discussed within one hour, in Kiev, yet, the people tried to the impossible – packing fundamental issues of dealing with new forms in art in a really contemporary way in 2 hours, a topic for a whole university study of many years.
Later, in the evening when Yaroslava and Wilfried are arriving at the Municipal Art Gallery, the screening programs are still running, and some visitors are fascinated about the variety of the programs, there are several computers running the screening programs from DVD and a major projection. Wilfried comes obviously right in time, because he is involved in some discussions which again are about his new concept which find many visitors quite confusing, and Wilfried and even more Yaroslava as the gallery curator become aware, that is not sufficient to make just once an introduction into the new concept of presenting art & moving images. The audience has to become aware, that video isn’t video, that the moving images of the art works have a completely different meaning than the film and videos people are consuming day and night in television, Internet and cinema or advertising or even that kind of videoart as it is know since decades, already, the visitor/viewer of such a video show thinks he knows already everything, so there is no need to watch the moving images, at all, and those people who do start to understand only slowly that differently that in a usual film where the single frame in the sequence of countless frames loses it relevance completely, it is the single frame of the art video regaining its meaning.
Wilfried is thinking, how important such discussions for a better understanding of new art forms are, and he doubts actually, that such an event like in Kharkiv or earlier in Kiev lasting no more than two days, is making any sense, at all, because it has no sustainable effect on the perception of people, in general, and in particular the few people who come along and see the show more or less by chance. But these are the rules.
CologneOFF 2011 Ukraine – is realized in collaboration with the Goethe Institute Kiev, Media Art Lab Kiev, CCA Kiev, the Nuremberg House Kharkiv, the Municipal Art Gallery Kharkiv, the National V.N. Karazin University Kharkiv