6 – 20/03/2023
Anton Ovchinnikov / UA
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been going on for almost a year; it can now be said that the war has become integrated into the life of every Ukrainian. Each of us has become part of a performance, which is impossible to leave.
The absence of a time frame turns the existence of each participant into an endless “here and now”. The most important is determining the fulcrum and balance around which the action can be built. This choice essentially forms a view of what is happening around us.
The future has infinite possibilities, each of which has an equal chance of happening. When the past becomes as unstable as the future, the present becomes the only possible reality and the only source of support(comfort).
As never before, today, life is becoming like a performance. What does performance become in this situation, and what is its role?
In many ways, the state of stability is provided by certainty in the awareness of identity (professional self-identification). Asking the question "who am I?" for many years, sooner or later, the artist understands the strengths of his identity and its possible diversity. This certainty allows you to use your skills as efficiently as possible. But today, the Ukrainian artist finds that he has been thrown back to point "zero" and is faced with the need to define himself anew in conditions where the past no longer has any meaning in the new reality, and every ready-made statement ends with a question mark. At the same time, nationality and civic position become the basis of identity in the new circumstances, which excludes deviations and ambiguity, hence the possibility of having a different opinion. Individual identity merges with the expectations and demands of society, and the artist becomes just a product of reflexes.
The new contemporary transnational choreography of the war has become an objective reality; in March 2022, thousands of independent Ukrainian artists found themselves in different parts of Europe and across the ocean. Are they drawn by the appeal of new unprecedented opportunities or horizons for gaining new experience and knowledge? Unfortunately no. It is impossible to avoid participation in this battleground production; the need for survival determines it. In a new place, you lose everything that provides support and independence; at least you can be sure that nothing threatens your life. At the same time, the object of art becomes unclear: interest in studying processes unrelated to the present fades away and is replaced by short daily reflections of temporary states.
Leaving all other "UNs" out of the brackets, one way or another, the main question for the artist remains open - how-to-continue-to-do-his-work. And this place in the chain of reasoning turns out to be the most sensitive. Getting closer to its solution is often impossible from either side because you are constantly in a state of "transition". It has no way to fix itself in time and space. Yet, the artist usually does this when creating his creative expressions. And the new state of constant movement/oscillation/shift is much stronger than any possible anchor that could bind you to a certain point of coordinates.
Bumping into the wall of impossibility to produce art, the artist gradually finds himself in a mental impasse. This impasse is the impossibility of fixing time and space. It creates an irreversible effect. With fixed points and events behind you, you can go back to everything that happened to you. However, because other people's fixation points do not seem to work, your own do not yet exist. Instead, you exist in a timeless space with a point of origin in time and space, and everything beyond rests on the horizon.
At this stage of the study, within the residence framework, I would like to more accurately formulate the features of the present moment and my state in it in the form of text notes and physical studies. The research includes work in a dance studio as an experience of fixing temporary emotional and physical states for further work with these states after the end of the residency.
Anton Ovchinnikov is a multidisciplinary artist and culture manager. He works as a choreographer, performer, composer, lecturer, and organizer of the annual international dance festival Zelyonka Space UP in Kyiv. Since 2008 he has been the artistic director of the Black O!Range dance productions company. The company was recognized as one of Ukraine's most distinctive and original dance projects. In 2015 Ovchinnikov co-founded the All-Ukrainian Association “Contemporary Dance Platform”. Since then, he has been the President of the institution. The main objectives of the Association are to support young Ukrainian choreographers, integrate contemporary dance into the modern cultural life of Ukraine and establish the national centre of contemporary dance. In 2016-2021 Anton Ovchinnikov presented a few solo performances and created five multidisciplinary projects. In 2017 he was a fellow of CEC Artslink Residency in the USA. In 2018/2019, Anton Ovchinnikov was a member of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation expert panel. Since February 2022, the UA Contemporary Dance Platform has been managing two international projects: “Let the body speak”, – the ongoing collection of dance videos created by Ukrainian choreographers during the war and an educational program developed together with the British dance centre and “The Living Archive Ukraine” – the online professional development and creation program centred on Wayne McGregor’s AI. Soma – a world’s first machine learning choreographic tool explicitly developed for McGregor with Google Arts and Culture Lab.