Culture and Conflict: IZOLYATSIA in Exile
15 December 2014—16 December 2014
Palais de Tokyo (Paris, France) hosts a one-day event on December 15, 2014 featuring IZOLYATSIA. Platform for Cultural Initiatives (Donetsk, Ukraine). The programme explores the subject of conflict in eastern Ukraine and the position of culture under war conditions.
On June 9th, 2014, the IZOLYATSIA complex was seized by mercenaries of the self-proclaimed «Donetsk People’s Republic» to facilitate «humanitarian aid» arriving from Russia.
Subsequently, the territory of the celebrated cultural foundation has been used to provide a base for training combatants affiliated to the «DPR» forces, whilst also functioning as a detention centre. IZOLYATSIA’s offices, galleries and art spaces have been looted and cannibalised for materials and equipment. The foundation has evacuated its team and since then it continues to perform its mission in Kyiv.
Officially, the war has not been declared or recognised by the parties involved despite the continued suffering and deaths of thousands of people. Such ambiguity has placed severe constraints on diplomatic and political efforts to find a resolution to the conflict. The situation has seen an escalation in the information war, a divisive and coercive campaign that has deeper long-term impact on the population than the military actions currently experienced.
IZOLYATSIA’s event at the Palais de Tokyo describes the foundation’s history and activities reflect on the reality of war in Ukraine. The presentation outlines the background to the unfolding events and considers the personal stories of those involved in the conflict — terrorists, civic activists, imprisoned artists, and especially the younger generations from Donetsk.
The questions posed by IZOLYATSIA relate to the role of culture and contemporary art in situations of war. Can art be an instrument for conflict resolution without resorting to propaganda? Or, should art be the catalyst for long-term change involving community, education and the development of critical thinking leading to a more diverse and tolerant way of engaging with the world.