Home Arts Inaugural New York fair for Ukrainian artists aims to show that the country is ‘a solution, not a problem’

Inaugural New York fair for Ukrainian artists aims to show that the country is ‘a solution, not a problem’

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More than 100 Ukrainian artists, brands and businesses took to the Essex Crossing Skylight on New York’s Lower East Side for the first I Am U Are Ukrainian Designers Fair (until March 26). Co-founded by Anna Pagava, managing director of Los Angeles-based PR agency Gogola, and hospitality expert Kristina Skripka, the event aims to show that “culture, technology, art and design Ukrainians have always been progressive and diverse”. », say the organizers, while convincing that the country is « not a problem but a solution ».

The organizers also want to send a message of defiance, saying “the war has given even more agility and resilience to Ukrainian creative talent from which the world can learn and benefit.”

Masha Reva and Ivan Grabko, a Kyiv-based painter couple who fled the city following the Russian invasion, are the fair’s creative directors. They organized two exhibitions in collaboration with the Ukrainian Museum of New York. Reva planned an exhibition of Ukrainian photographers whose work portrays “a poetic, strong, collective portrait of young Ukraine”, and Grabko commissioned several artists to create works in response to the prompt “How are you?”

A traditional Ukrainian crown by Olena Mityurina Photo © Andrew Gray

“Artists also ask the viewer the same question,” Grabko said. The arts journal. “It’s a very simple question people ask when they meet, an opening conversation started by friends or people who don’t know each other. Often that doesn’t make sense, but sometimes it means more than just being polite.

But behind the soft themes, the reality for fair attendees is quite grim in most cases; after the event, the majority will return to a war-ravaged country with no end of fighting in sight. “Unfortunately, the war is the biggest thing happening in Ukraine right now, but people are still going about their lives and doing their jobs as they used to,” Grabko says. “We want to show that war is something we will win, our defenders are not fighting for war but for victory and life. People must see that this battle is not in vain.

Sculpture by Gorn Ceramics © Gorn Ceramics

Providing Ukrainian creative industries with opportunities to network and forge ties with American businesspeople is an important aspect of I Am U Are. The fair is associated with United 24an official fundraising platform launched by the administration of Ukrainian President Oleksandr Zelensky, and part of the proceeds from the event will go to humanitarian aid in Ukraine.

“To be honest, we all needed a big project to focus on and combine our powers for a good cause,” says Reva. “All aspects of Ukrainian culture are equally important, from the rave scene and museum artifacts to tech startups and artisanal techniques inherited from our ancestors. This diversity makes Ukrainians who we are.

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