Nikita Kadan, Yevgen Nikiforov
“Children Are Surrounded by Art” is a 1970s brochure about sanatoriums, pioneer palaces, children’s recreation camps and the monumental art that adorned them. On its pages I found many photographs of children’s camps in Crimea – neo-modernist structures on the Black Sea coast, as well as Ukrainian Soviet decorative art, which is being actively destroyed today as part of the “policy of decommunization”. The Russian annexation of Crimea and Ukrainian state anti-communism threw their reflections on archival images, making the latter something completely different from what they were before 2014. Each image lives in time and changes with it. These changes are dictated by political history – one and the same picture in a short time can be in the area of encouraged, denied and ignored. However, there is also a story of our sensitivity, an emotional story. The huge semi-dark halls of the Soviet palaces of children’s creativity were for me as a child in the 1980s an image of boredom, empty time. For me as a teenager in the 1990s, it was an anxious and inviting space of abandonment and uncontrollability, freedom as a uselessness to anyone. In the 2000s, these halls were built up with plastic kiosks and covered with advertising banners, becoming the embodiment of the “eternal today” of victorious peripheral capitalism, devoid of historical dimension (this is how I found them when I became an artist). In the 2010-20s, these gradually crumbling, decrepit, Soviet palaces suddenly became symbols of resistance to the new anti-historicalism and conservative political isolationism. Nationalists demand their demolition, cosmopolitan youth throw their parties under their arches. The new Ukrainian techno scene feeds on the same spirit as the new cult of neo-modern architecture.