Gender in IZOLYATSIA: Seams of Patriarchy and Identity Tailoring

Curator: Olena Chervonik
20 April–8 July 2012
Foundation IZOLYATSIA. Platform for Cultural Initiatives
Svitlogo Shliahu St.3, Donetsk, 83029 Ukraine
Hours: Thursday–Sunday, 10am–6pm
T 38 062 388 18 20
F 38 062 388 18 21
M 38 050 577 26 20


Gender in IZOLYATSIA: Seams of Patriarchy and Identity Tailoring

IZOLYATSIA is continuing to re-inhabit the industrial structures of a former insulation materials factory by gradually integrating them into the art-centre's cultural operations. On 20 April, 2012, IZOLYATSIA opens a new exhibition space MEDPUNKT which will serve as an experimental curatorial platform for young Ukrainian artists.

Reconstruction at IZOLYATSIA presupposes considerable preservation of the existing industrial architecture and design. Through rehabilitating, as opposed to tearing down and rebuilding, the reconstruction process aims to incorporate the history of the site on both visual and verbal levels. The industrial constructions are refurbished with due regard to their original function and their former names are retained to pay tribute to the factory's past. The name of the arts foundation itself—IZOLYATSIA—is inherited from the factory and remains a direct reference to the history of the space, which is now attaining a new role and mission. Following the same logic, the old names of various spaces are preserved and made to serve new ends. MEDPUNKT used to be a medical station where factory workers would receive initial and sometimes urgent medical treatment, hence the highly symbolic significance of the new exhibition space's name.Concise curatorial statements will reveal zones requiring immediate reaction and more elaborate treatments, thus paving path for further projects at IZOLYATSIA and more generally amongst other Ukrainian social and cultural actors.

The first MEDPUNKT exhibition is dedicated to the problematics of gender in the Ukrainian context. Self-fashioning lies at the core of the productive understanding of gender. People are born with some biological differences, yet their behavioral models have no straightforward correlation to their biological sex. People are generally conditioned to think and act in accordance with the gender norms accepted and (re)produced in a particular society. Patriarchy functions as gender police within a dictatorial system, surveilling and enforcing the imposed narrowly defined gender stereotypes. The fascist-like repression of sensitivity towards gender formation leads to socio-cultural neuroses, which trigger violent responses directed both at society and at one's own subjectivity. A reevaluation of the gender problematics is especially pertinent to the Ukrainian society today, where deep-seated patriarchal assumptions about gender distribution and their recruitment in today's power struggles are (re)producing a belief system that persecutes difference.

Avoiding an unreflected enumeration of possible Ukrainian gender stereotypes, the exhibition strives to uncover social and psychological mechanisms of gender construction. One group of artists singles out role playing and mimicry as the main constituents of gender performance. Viktoria Myroniuk and Roman Bodnarchuk, Maryna Skugareva, Ksenia Hnylytska, Lada Nakonechna, Alina Kopytsia, Lesia Khomenko and Zhanna Kadyrova try to rationalize and explain why people follow counterproductive and destructive gender patterns. Alina Kleitman, Lubov Malikova, and Masha Kulikovska employ the abject art paradigm to reflect on the experiences of those whose mental and physical wiring does not correspond to the accepted gender roles of a particular society. Oleksiy Salamnov, Masha Shubina, and Synchrodogs Art Collective postulate metaphoric ways of undermining the rigidity and the reproduction of imposed gender patterns.To organize the special excursions please contact us by phone 38 050 477 26 20 or send us e-mail to info@izolyatsia.org.