Vitaliy Kokhan, Moon, Flowers and Smoke Far Way, 2015, mixed media, 60 × 100 cm, Biruchiy Art Residency, Ukraine

0.

… Have time

Waste time

Ahead of time

Time after time

Run out of time…

1.

The thought of slowness is rolling over in my mind, like a smooth pebble that is stuck in the shoe – it doesn't hurt that much, but is annoying.

Slowness as a tool for the cognition of reality. A flâneur who slowly wanders through the city and measures it with their steps. The time it takes to deal with the continuous stream of information – fakes, hot offers of the week, disasters, slogans, notifications, push messages, and all the dazzle of flashing stories. Analytics instead of emotional reactions. The differentiation between history and stories.

Slowness as germination. Time required for the ripening of thought. For the collection of information. For the physical embodiment of an idea. For correction and improvement. Leaving a text to “rest” so that you can look at it with “someone else’s” eyes. Working with an archive, not a summary.

Slowness as a political process. Changes stretched over time. Failed reforms. Disenchantment in the promises of the revolution. Hybrid warfare, scattered in the smallest details of everyday life. The disappointment of the electorate in populist slogans that are still being proclaimed out there. And against this background – theformation (not a sudden pop-up) of a politically conscious community.

Slowness as a reflection. Delving into experiences and the silence of contemplation. Self-reflection, not a selfie.

2.

My utmost gratitude to the wonderful Ukrainian writers and artists who agreed to take part in a sharedconversation about slowness.

Thanks to BookForum and Versopolis for the opportunity to consider and articulate these things.

Thanks to the organisers for a clear plan – essays and texts coming every day during the week.

We spend this week of co-creation of the world together.

Monday. Art critic and curator Natalia Matsenko holds talks with two Kharkiv artists about the slowness of germination of art. Vitaly Kokhan is a well-known representative of the younger generation who works with all contemporary art techniques – video, sculpture, land art, painting, and drawing. Mixed media as mixed times and contexts. Pavlo Makov is a classic figure of Ukrainian art who has been working for many years on the concept of the garden. His idea is based on belief, that one who plans the garden, is unlikely to see it during their lifetime. Slowness as a tool for the pre-creation of an art form that does not stand for hasty decisions.

Tuesday. Roman Malynovsky, the author and founder of the “Babylonian Library” publishing house, whichfocuses on publishing classical and modern literature in excellent Ukrainian translations and providing conceptual graphic design. Roman is a sommelier of slowness – the re-reading of books, and the re-viewing of movies. In a dialogue with the artist Olga Marusyn, he talks about the slowness of being in culture as a possible key to immortality.

Wednesday. Olexa Mann, an artist and anthropologist from Uzhgorod, who delves into the essence of Ukrainian reality, into its daily hustle and bustle. Olexa Mann’s daily artistic practice consists not only in the ongoing creation of artwork, but also in the writing and constant study of visual culture. His essay speaks of his long-term work on the non-verbal graphic novel “Codex”, which can become a new word not just in Ukrainian contemporary art, but also in visual thinking. Being extremely scrupulous about the quality of his work and the increment of graphic narrative entails slowness.

Thursday. Our current meeting with you. An attempt to formulate in words elusive allusions and connections. It’s just as impossible as attempts to convey in words and stable expressions the fluidity of time, its elusiveness and length, as well as its vanity. And subjective experiences, which should also be depicted in general terms.

Friday. Sofia Andrukhovych is a Ukrainian writer originally from Western Ukraine who has been living in Kiev for a long time. Last Spring, her great novel Amadoca was published: 832 pages, 1075 grams in weight. Several years of work embodied in the novel. Temporal layers of Ukrainian history, reflections on eras and destinies. The current Russian-Ukrainian war, the Holocaust during World War II, the Soviet terror and extermination of Ukrainian artists and intellectuals, called the Executed Renaissance. The key novel of Ukrainian literature. Her narrative for this discussion about slowness – about the nuances of reality fiction and artistic details that have sprouted from her immersion in archives, the randomness of everyday life and the idea that simple things can become metaphors. And sometimes there is nothing more to them.

 

3.

As is customary and undeniable: there are two more days after Friday. Time for slowness.

... At all times…

Time for gathering pebbles that, though invisible, can be annoying from time to time.

… In time…

Time for building another castle out of these pebbles, and then watch it crumble in the next natural disaster.

… Before your time…

Or time will simply do its thing.

… Against time…

It will be some day. Later. Not now.

                                              .Take your time.