Many historical buildings in Kyiv have been privatized and fallen into disrepair. Legal loopholes allow the new owners to avoid restoring them to their former glory.
The building located at 28/12 Verkhniy Val St. that we chose for this artistic action is just one of the abandoned monuments of architecture whose value is of no importance to its owner or the state. Surrounded by a fence for years, most passersby no longer notice it: it has become a nameless semi-ruin whose disappearance could very well go unnoticed.
The Novikov Building is important in the visual and human history of Kyiv. Built in 1983, it was once an important center of trade and culture, home of the Novikov family that did many good things for Kyiv and its people. The building was expropriated during the revolution of 1917 and turned into communal apartments, with its former owners left to live out their days in the basement. The extraordinarily beautiful stucco interior of the Novikov Building managed to survive the revolution, replanning and war, only to be nearly completely destroyed in modern times.
In our project we plan to share the building's story with the people of Kyiv through informational signs and to visually highlight its existence and threat of disappearance with a bright neon strikethrough line.
To install the neon light we needed permission from the Department of Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Kyivenergo and the building owner. We spent days trying to cut through bureaucratic red tape, sending letters and making phone calls. We were transferred from department to department dozens of times. We became private investigators trying to hunt down the current owner. And after two months of wading through bureaucratic quicksand this is where we are:
- We have written permission for the project from the Department of Preservation of Cultural Heritage, on condition that the building owner agrees.
- We have a certificate from the State Property Register saying that the building is owned by a commercial company but that the property is under arrest as of July 2015. This information suggests that the owner is deliberately avoiding restoration works as part of an illegal and corrupt scheme similar to other historical buildings.
- We see zero interest within the local government to address or influence these issues on a legislative level. Instead, officials are avoiding any and all responsibility in the matter.
- We, as an independent cultural institution, have no levers of influencing over the owner, who refuses to communicate with us. We also found no support from government agencies whose job it is to deal with such issues.
All the hurdles we had to overcome to get permits for this project convinced us that the building needs our attention and concern more than ever. Together we can raise awareness of the building and stop corrupt individuals from getting away with allowing its further destruction.
On Friday, December 11, at 18:00 we invite you to join the artistic action “Novikov Building. 1893”. Although we were forced to deviate from our original artistic idea, we can still “shed light” on the fate of the building with a several-hour long light installation. We will be handing out postcards about the building and its history.
Project authors: Valerie Karpan and Oleh Perkovskyj
Project e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Project on tumblr: future-built.tumblr.com
Project “Novikov Building. 1893” is a part of a project “Mosaic of the city”, which is aimed at developing participatory strategies of art interactions with the city. It is an educational and practical program, which consists of a series of workshops in Kyiv, summer academy in Ruhr region (Germany) and an implementation of projects in Kyiv by participants of the program. “Mosaic of the city” is a project of CSM (Foundation Center for Contemporary Art) in partnership with Goethe-Institut Ukraine, and funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.