by Andy Kozlov
“What happens to your body when you pedal?” Reads a recent post on the Facebook page of Veloferma, a bike farm, set up last month on Kreshchatyk, Ukraine’s major street. This is where the Ukrainians were demonstrating during the Euromaidan, a popular movement that had Viktor Yanukovych flee his presidential post and plunge the country into a crisis that many hope will result in Ukraine’s modernization.
What’s a bike farm, exactly? It’s an all-volunteer-run collective dedicated to every aspect of bicycle education, from safe commuting to repair. That was a quote from a similar project in the U.S., a country that seems to be a leader in such community-centred enterprises.
At this time, in Dnipropetrovsk, some 500 km southeast of Ukraine’s capital, The Pulse of Africa/Пульс Африки exhibition opened to the public at the Ya Gallery art center. Initiated by Ukrainian curator and fluent French-speaker, Pavlo Gudimov, this creative space is a branch of the eponymous gallery in Kyiv.
Pavlo Gudimov: “Nothing could be more distant from us than Africa, and nothing could be as close as it is.”
Indeed one could note that Luganda and Donbabwe — a prejudice-filled play on two African nations: Uganda and Zimbabwe — the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics are a sad Ukrainian reality these days. And the Donetsk-based cultural platform Izolyatsiya knows this situation very well.
As Borys Filonenko observes in a copy about the exhibition:
Andriy Khir‘s new works from unfinished series “Demonology” and eponymous to the entire exhibition work by Oleksandr Korol are reminiscent of spirits. Both Khir and Korol open a secret drawer, full of residents from the other world, monolithic half-humans half-animals that are equal to animal-people that inhabit folk worldview. The former does this through Hutsul narratives, creating a system of wills, ceremonial arches, prohibitions and beliefs. The latter shows us the results from the heart of Africa itself: flaming boars, anthropomorphic animals, torn (by a beast or by artistic representation) individuals who at their last breath urge viewers to “Not for the World” go to Africa.
..the essential fact of art history is a path in a diametrically opposite direction – where Africa comes to us. And if in Europe, there is a certain opportunity to enter these “dialogues” of the cultures of visuality, then Pulse of Africa becomes the first attempt at reflecting on this “invasion” in Ukraine.
Back to the Veloferma Facebook set of bike-riding recommendations, should you want to pedal to The Pulse of Africa exhibit.
“Every five minutes, do not forget to detach your behind from the saddle and bike for a while in an upright position.” The excercise is said to be good for your pelvis, buddy!
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Urban rail in Africa: Whether “freedom trains” will solve Zimbabwe’s traffic jam problems, more attention should be paid to what happens when you board at A and get off at B. And don’t forget the bike!