An exhibition dedicated to the Dnipro River will open at the Dovzhenko Center
Main image: A screenshot from the film "The Eleventh"
On October 5th, an exhibition titled "The River Screamed and Howled Like a Wounded Beast," dedicated to the theme of construction and taming of the Dnipro River, particularly the construction of the Kakhovka Reservoir, will open at the Dovzhenko Center. The exhibition is organized as part of the fifth International Art Forum Kyiv Biennale, and it is based on films by 12 directors, ranging from classics to contemporary artists.
The exhibition's theme is related to the June explosion at the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP) by Russian military forces.
"Not long ago, there was an explosion at the Kakhovka HPP, and this tragedy prompted us to define the theme – a rethinking of the relationship between humans and the Dnipro River through the prism of cinema," said the team from the Dovzhenko Center. "The exhibition is our attempt to return to the past through cinema, to remember the process of building the cascade of hydroelectric power stations on the Dnipro River and to undergo an ideological reassessment of Ukraine's water resources carried out during Soviet modernization."
The Dovzhenko Center noted that, compared to other Soviet constructions, the creation of the Kakhovka HPP was more actively depicted in Ukrainian Soviet films.
"From Ukrainian Soviet films, sometimes there emerged not only positive images of large-scale construction but also pre-modern forms of coexistence with rivers, as well as negative consequences of industrial exploitation of water bodies."
The curators of the exhibition are film scholars from the Dovzhenko Center: Oleksandr Teliuk, Aliona Penzii, and Stanislav Bytiutskyi.
Screenshots from the film "Wind from the Threshold" (1930), directed by Arnold Kordyum. From the collection of the Dovzhenko Centre
The exhibition will open with a cine-performance titled "Dnipro in Concrete" by Arnold Kordyum, focusing on the construction of the Dnipro Hydroelectric Station and the socialist way of life of its builders. On the opening day, October 5th, the film will be accompanied by a live performance by musician ID [Ivanov Down].
The programme "The River Screamed, Howled Like a Wounded Beast" includes films by 12 Ukrainian directors dating back to the 1920s. Among the featured artists at the exhibition are Oleksandr Dovzhenko, Mykhail Kaufman, Axel Lundin, Dzyga Vertov, Ivan Kavaleridze, Leonid Osyka, Yulia Solntseva, Arnold Kordyum, and Yevhen Makarov. For example, visitors to the Dovzhenko Center will have the opportunity to see montage videos from classic films about the Dnipro River, such as "The Eleventh" by Dziga Vertov, "Ivan" by Oleksandr Dovzhenko, "Adventures of Poltinnik" by Axel Lundin, "In Spring" by Mykhail Kaufman, and "Wind from the Thresholds" by Arnold Kordyum.
A separate room is dedicated to Alexander Dovzhenko's film "Poem of the Sea," which tells the story of the construction of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Station and the "human dramas of its participants and victims" caused by the Soviet government's determination to build the hydroelectric station at any cost. The Dovzhenko Center added that through this film, visitors can see how the propaganda of that time worked and how easily it can be debunked today. The exhibition also includes works by contemporary artists Yarema Malashchuk and Roman Khimey, Elias Parvulesco, composer Oleksiy Podatya, and cinematographer Mykola Bazarkin.
The exhibition "The River Screamed, Howled Like a Wounded Beast" is part of the Kyiv Biennial 2023.
The Kyiv Biennial is an international forum for art, knowledge, and politics that brings together exhibitions and discussion platforms. The Biennial employs an interdisciplinary perspective at the intersection of the humanities, socially engaged art, and political activism to address key issues of the contemporary world. The Biennial is organized by the Center for Visual Culture.