“Application”, an art work of now-inactive Mediators collective is perhaps one of the strangest “Naphthalene” projects. As the title suggests, what you see is the text of collective application for two different editions of PinchukArtCentre Prize, namely, 2015 and 2018. (PinchukArtCentre Prize is a nationwide prize in contemporary art to young Ukrainian artists up to 35. It is awarded every two years starting from 2009). The application did not pass the jury selection neither in 2015 nor in 2018.
“PinchukArtCentre was our Arsenal”, jokes Yevgeny Kazak, artist-activist, “Mediators” participant, and his joke conceals a bitter irony. The irony is that while the situation around the long-lasting boycott of Mystetsky Arsenal by a group of Ukrainian artists is widely known and discussed both in media and in social networks, there are other conflicts between institutions and artists which remain hidden from the media and public sphere.
“Application” echoes the partisan war lost long time ago. It problematizes the forgotten, removed from the agenda. It is irrelevant in many respects, but it is precisely for this reason that it organically blends into the dialectic of “Naphthalene”. To talk about the confrontation between the work collective and the PAC administration happened three years ago doesn’t make much sense. Firstly, the people behind the application do not work at PAC for a long time. Some of them even quit the artistic path altogether, pursuing other, greener pastures (at IT companies, television, etc.) Secondly, the PAC itself is acutely aware of this application and the surrounding context, and therefore one can’t really expect any structural, qualitative changes in institution’s policy regarding the mediators.
For “Naphthalene”, the “Mediators” work is relevant not only because no one really needs it. Intriguing and promising is the very precedent of the formation of a spontaneous artist collective on the basis of the mediators institute. In other words, the precedent of transformation of the work collective into a collective of artists-activists, into a hotbed of resistance within the corporation.