June 5, 2015, 4:01 p.m.
IZOLYATSIA. Platform for Cultural Initiatives officially acknowledges responsibility for the project #onvacation – an anonymous art action at the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. The winner of the project’s promised vacation to Crimea will be announced on June 9 at the IZOLYATSIA DAY exhibition opening.
#onvacation started in Venice on May 6, 2015 at the Venice Biennale with the occupation of the Pavilions of nations engaged in military occupations of other territories. Artists in uniforms with the inscription "on vacation" encouraged visitors to the Biennale to put on the freely distributed uniforms and take selfies in the pavilion of “an occupying power of your choice.” Those who participate are offered a chance to win a free vacation to Balaklava, a seaside town in occupied Crimea. The action was meant as a direct reference to Russian "green men" who occupied the Ukrainian Crimea in 2014, claiming to be “on vacation.”
Similar forces are also implicated in the ongoing conflict in the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine. As of June 9th 2014 the occupation includes the territory of IZOLYATSIA foundation, seized as a depot for Russian “humanitarian aid.” The art center has been transformed into a weapons depot, military training base, as well as a prison and place of execution.
IZOLYATSIA. Platform for Cultural Initiatives recognizes the common root of the occupation of Crimea and the occupation of Donbas, and so has dedicated its Venetian intervention to the occupied peninsula. Citing the declared anonymity of Russian military aggression against Ukraine, the authors of the project encourage viewers to reconsider their personal understanding of the occupation and to assess the impact of media in modern military aggressions.
#onvacation is an IZOLYATSIA initiative. IZOLYATSIA’s confirms that the team purposefully organized and instigated ongoing occupations of the national pavilions during the first month of the Venice Biennale, and involved the public in their critical and subversive enterprise. The organizers also used all possible forms of propaganda, including spreading printed materials, social media campaigning, and lobbying for media coverage of #onvacation in the international media and cultural institutions.
#onvacation — an IZOLYATSIA initiative — is not only art event focused on occupation itself, but also a media presentation of the military aggression. The action has received a huge response in the media. Within a few days, the world's leading media outlets such as The Guardian, The New York Times and the main art journals, had covered #onvacation. This intervention has become an alternative to the stationary Ukrainian pavilion at the Biennale.
The name of the lucky winner of the trip to Balaklava, will be announced on June 9, the day of the occupation of IZOLYATSIA in Donetsk. The winner will be announced at the opening of the exhibition IZOLYATSIA DAY.
On 9 June 2014 the mercenaries of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic seized the territory of IZOLYATSIA foundation. The premises of the cultural foundation, where educational programs, art exhibitions and residency programs were held since 2010, are now used by the DPR as a detainment and death camp, and a military base for training DPR militia troops. IZOLYATSIA's premises were looted and vandalized: many works by Ukrainian and foreign artists were taken out for scrap metal by the DPR, the foundation lost its library, materials, and many art works.After evacuating its team and salvaging some of the art works, the foundation continues its mission in Kyiv. Within the last year IZOLYATSIA realized more than 80 educational initiatives and art projects. These include the exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, collaborative project in partnership with the renown art school, Villa Arson, Nice and a project at La Biennale di Venezia, dedicated to the occupation of the Crimea.