In Edenia, a City of the Future, 2017
In Edenia, a City of the Future is an art exhibition inspired by a Yiddish- language utopian novella of the same name, published by Kalman Zingman in Kharkiv in 1918. Nearly one hundred years later, artist Yevgeniy Fiks invited an international group of contemporary artists to read the novella and create an artwork as if from the museum of the imaginary city of Edenia. The exhibition presents the artists' different visions as an invitation to look at our dreams from various angles, to take note of their colors, intonations, forms and rhythms.
Zingman's Edenia (a projection of Kharkiv 25 years into the future) is serviced by "airbuses" and fountains that keep the temperature at a comfortable level year- round; it is a place where ethnic communities live side-by-side in peace and harmony. The protagonist of the story, returned to his native city from Palestine, makes a stop in the art museum: "He … looked at the figure sculptures of Kritsenshteyn, Lisitski and Roza Fayngold, then he went to the top level. The door closed behind him, and he looked for a very long time, thought for a long time, and got lost in his ruminations."
At a time when many Ukrainians are divided in their respective idealizations of the Soviet past as a golden era of social justice or the European Union as the promise of a future utopia, “In Edenia, a City of the Future” (based on a novella written in a language that has practically disappeared from Ukraine) invites the public to examine the country's multicultural history and its early Soviet dreams/ nightmares in light of present-day political challenges and potentialities. We urge visitors to think critically about the appeal and comfort of a utopian dream, while simultaneously remembering past actions taken in the name of making an ideal image of society a reality. How many of these dreams and arguments are we still repeating today?
At the same time, we acknowledge the utopian nature of the very project of 21st- century contemporary art, where visibility (as revelation) has come to replace the visionary projects of the past.
Curators: Larissa Babij (Ukraine / US) and Yevgeniy Fiks (US / Russia)
Ifeoma Anyaeji (Nigeria)
Babi Badalov (France / Azerbaijan)
Concrete Dates Collective (Ukraine)
Curandi Katz (Italy / Canada)
Sasha Dedos (Ukraine)
Aikaterini Gegisian (UK / Greece)
Tatiana Grigorenko (US / France)
Creolex centr (Ruthie Jenrbekova & Maria Vilkovisky) (Kazakhstan)
Nikita Kadan (Ukraine)
Kapwani Kiwanga (Canada / France)
Yuri Leiderman (Ukraine / Germany)
Mykola Ridnyi (Ukraine)
Haim Sokol (Russia / Israel)
Agnès Thurnauer (France / Switzerland)
Exhibition designer: Ivan Melnychuk (Ukraine)
Publishing partner: STAB (School of Theory and Activism – Bishkek) (Kyrgyzstan)