One of the most striking buildings in Kyiv is the Mystetskyi Arsenal, or "Art Arsenal", whose opening I attended back in August 2009.  Built between 1783 and 1801, it has been restored to provide over twenty thousand square metres of dramatic exhibition space arranged in massive, high-arched rooms and is always worth a visit whatever is on show there.  There are ambitious plans to extend the galleries.

So it's exciting to learn that in May 2012, in the run-up to the Euro 2012 football championships, the Art Arsenal will host "Arsenale 2012", a Biennale project subtitled "The Best of Times, the Worst of Times.  Rebirth and Apocalypse in Contemporary Art".  

The Biennale has several British angles.  It will be curated by David Elliott, a British curator and writer who has headed up museums and organised exhibitions around the world.  London based Curzon PR is responsible for the public relations.  And the theme of Arsenale 2012 is of course taken from the great Charles Dickens novel, "A Tale of Two Cities", whose famous opening paragraph reads as follows:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”  

This comment on the tendency to over-use superlatives in describing current affairs seems as relevant today as ever.  So I hope I can deploy suitable British under-statement in saying that Arsenale 2012 is a reminder that the run-up to next year’s Euro 2012 football championships in Ukraine and Poland promises to be a pretty stimulating time.  

Leigh Turner


Ukrayinska Dumka


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