Exhibition Scenography
About This Project:

Curator:​ Hanna Tsyba

Scenography: Dana Kosmina

Exhibition Participants: Dana Kosmina, Nikita Kadan, Volodymyr Kuznetsov, Ksenia Hnylytska, Oleksandr Burlaka, Oleksiy Bykov, David Chichkan (Ukraine), Sergey Shabokhin (Belarus).

Photo – Daryna Nikolenko

The market and the market square is not only a space of trade, but for communication and, historically, for exchanging information and practicing of grassroots politics.

During the Soviet era, the market became the only practical solution to the deficit; it remained a place for meeting and communication that changed very little in form and essence from its pre-revolutionary function.

In Soviet Ukraine, large indoor markets first appeared in the 1950s, however, the main surge in construction did not take place until the 1960s-1980s. Architects and engineers in Kyiv developed series of suspension roofs that could be deployed to cover large surface areas, such as marketplaces. They developed several designs with these elements that featured prominently in the following structures: the Volodymyrsky, Zhytniy, Pechersky and Railway markets; the House of Furniture in Kyiv; and the markets in Cherkasy, Kharkiv, Rivne, Sumy, Ivano-Frankivsk, in addition to many other cities.

Today these late modernism buildings are not recognized in Ukrainian law as cultural heritage. As is also the case with many other architectural monuments, these buildings are quite often destroyed by negligence or devastating renovations that do not take into consideration the historical and artistic value of the buildings.

Zhytniy Market lies at the center of these dynamics today, the renovation of which should be carried out under public supervision in order to ensure the preservation of its architectural value. This unique building was constructed in 1980 and designed by the architect Valentyn Shtolko, a participant in the above-mentioned experimental program.

As a part of the Market exhibition, architects Oleksandr Burlaka and Oleksiy Bykov present their research on late modernist architecture – providing audiences with a short excursion into the architectural history of Zhytniy and other indoor markets in Ukraine built in the so-called International Style.

The artists analyze the layered historical contexts throughout Zhytniy Market’s existence – from Kyivan Rus in the 10th century through the present. Davyd Chychkan reflects on the anti-Bolshevik Kurenivka 1919 rebellion, the epicenter of which was Podil and Zhytniy Market. With this gesture, at the centennial of the October Revolution he appeals to criticisms of the Bolshevik party and its betrayal of the revolutionary project. Nikita Kadan speaks about the iconoclasm of styles, equating the toppling of churches in the Soviet period with the destruction of Soviet architecture and monuments today. Exhibition architect and participant Dana Kosmina works with the specific aesthetic of advertisements, which today visually dominate the urban space in Ukraine and heavily influence our daily lives. Ksenia Hnylytska depicts the market as a public viche where the will of the people is reduced to the symbolical execution of those who dissent from the status quo. Sergey Shabokhin depicts a prototypical street kiosk of the 1990s as a transitional form between the market seller and the impersonal space of supermarkets and shopping malls, further documenting the arrival of small architectural forms (MAFs) used for retail. Volodymyr Kuznetsov reflects on the illegal destruction of Kyiv’s Sinnyi Market and the collapse of the public space that has existed around it.

The Market exhibition draws attention to Zhytniy Market as both a newly discovered architectural monument, and a unique public space defined by bazaar culture – a phenomenon that could disappear forever in the 21st century.

Organized by Visual Culture Research Center (Kyiv, Ukraine).

Partners: British Council / Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, ERSTE Foundation, European Cultural Foundation, International Renaissance Foundation, Robert Bosch Foundation.