Kyiv Diary – Day 1 May 22

Kyiv hosted its first Biennale commissioned by Nataliia Zabolotna, curated by David Elliott.  We journeyed into the capital past 27-story communist apartment buildings, over the Dnieper river, past the Ukranian statue of liberty on the hill and into the old town to attend the opening celebrations for the exhibit.  The Arsenale building stands across from the largest and most famous church complex in Kyiv, the Pechersk Lavra.  The Mystetskyi Arsenale was still a work in progress the day before the big party, and Choi Jeong Hwa’s golden lotus flower petals installed in the fountain were levitating with the strong spring winds.  Walking through the refurbished 50,000 square meters of space on two levels impressed the single viewer, where it was easily imaginable that even thousands would benefit from a solitary experience with the art pieces.  Looking for a dinner spot we were beckoned into a basement by a colorful fashion group calling to us in Ukranian.  Lard, vodka, sausage, vodka, pickles, vodka and a roaring, dancing, vodka-ing crowd to the Bangladesh Orchestra – whom by the end of the evening, in an inspired, imbibed moment I invited to the Santozeum for the end-summer party – made the unexpected evening.

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