The British Council in Ukraine presents an international exhibition — Trespassers Will Be Detected? — prepared by the SWAP: UK/UKRAINE 2019 arts residency programme. The ten artists who comprised the programme, held in both the UK and Ukraine in 2019, have presented the results of their visual explorations at the Artsvit Gallery and the Dnipro Contemporary Culture Centre during March 2020. Due to COVID-19 quarantine measures, exhibition was closed, but we have managed to prepare 360 online version of the exhibition.

The question asked in the title is both rhetorical and disturbing, as is the artwork of these 10 Ukraine- and UK-based artists. The work interrogates the capacity and relevance of established socio-political norms during periods of transition and the types of invisible social stressors that affect contemporary life in Ukraine and the UK.

Curators Anastasia Khlestova and the British Council’s Ilya Zabolotnyi had this to say on the choice of topic: "Ukrainian artists travelled to Scotland in the autumn of 2019 just as discussions for the implementation of Brexit were going on. That sense of invisible tension, anxiety, covert aggression and assault on boundaries both public and private, and the reckoning of ‘life’s basic rules’ is palpable in their observations and newly created artworks. By contrast, the UK-based artists found themselves caught up in the drawn-out, uncertain processes of transformation taking place in cities across Ukraine – Dnipro, Kharkiv, Lviv and Odesa. For the artists this served as a jumping off point for the consideration of new models for socio-cultural relations as well as a search for unity in a time marked by the formulation and reconsideration of provisional boundaries, and the (im)possibility of bringing order to the chaotic present and decoding “the Other”.  A vital, unifying factor for all our residents was the search for a holistic view of our world and reflection upon one’s place in a relentlessly shifting system of coordinates."

Each year, the SWAP: UK/Ukraine programme tries out a new set of formats and locations for arts residencies. This year, leading Scottish institutions revealed utterly new approaches and perspectives by which Ukrainian artists were allowed to examine the European cultural context of Europe — from the viewpoint of Scotland. In Ukraine, the programme had a broad geography - residencies were held in Kharkiv (YermilovCentre and Municipal Gallery), Odesa ( Museum of Odesa Contemporary Art), Lviv (the Jam Factory Art Center and the Center for Urban Histories) and Dnipro.

In Dnipro the programme partnered with both well-established institutions — Artsvit and Kultura Medialna — as well as with the newly emerging—Dnipro Centre for Contemporary Culture (DCCC). Organisers designed the Final Exhibition to be held at two locations — Artsvit and DCCC — to promote the new initiative and prompt dialogue around the establishment of an arts centre, underscoring its importance to the city’s cultural development. 

By holding the SWAP: UK/Ukraine exhibition in Dnipro, organisers are looking to boost the city’s visibility in international cultural dialogues, to stimulate development in the local cultural landscape and promote support for the decentralisation of public cultural processes.

"The Dnipro Contemporary Culture Centre  is a platform to promote international, inter-regional and local cooperative efforts, and to represent contemporary art and the diversity of modern culture. We assign great importance to working within the local context, and the potential for collaboration and cultural exchange among artists, representatives of the cultural sector and local residents. We’re thrilled to have one of our first major international projects at our centre be the British Council’s SWAP: UK/Ukraine exhibition." — Andriy Palash, Director, Kultura Medialna.

"We greatly appreciate the experience of this cooperative effort and are pleased to present these projects by our UK and Ukrainian residents. It’s especially gratifying to see it at the Artsvit Gallery and in our city — Dnipro. We’re working to raise the level of formal education in culture and the arts here and to stem the tide of creative talent leaving the city. But we think that the residency format is a good way to exchange practices with other cities and help our artists interact with the local community and urban spaces. It’s also an excellent way to support curators, providing them with international experience. All of which boosts the development of informal exposure to contemporary art, intensifies the local creative environment and lands Dnipro on cultural map both nationally and internationally.” — Iryna Polikarchuk, Director, Artsvit Gallery 

SWAP: UK/Ukraine is an annual arts residency programme for artists and curators organised by the British Council in Ukraine. The programme is carried out in a collaborative effort between some of the UK and Ukraine’s most innovative and experimental arts’ institutes. Since the inaugural 2016 season, the programme has supported 41 residencies for 37 artists and 4 curators. In Ukraine, the British Council has partnered with the Yermilov Centre in Kharkiv; the Jam Factory Art Centre and the Centre for Urban History, Lviv; the Museum of Odesa Modern Art, Odesa; the Artsvit Gallery and Kultura Medialna and the Dnipro Contemporary Culture Centre (DCCC), all in Dnipro. In the UK, our lead partners have been Hospitalfield (since 2019), and a number of partner institutions in Scotland — Cove Park, Scottish Sculpture Workshop, The Pier Arts Centre, Dundee Contemporary Arts Print Studio (DCA), Glasgow Sculpture Studios and the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop (ESW).

SWAP aims to connect artists from Ukraine and the UK, supporting their development in an international arts environment. The programme allows artists time for research, reflection and study of the artistic traditions of the two countries. 

Our Partners for the final SWAP: UK/UKRAINE Artistic Residency Exhibition 2019 — Artsvit Gallery, Kultura Medialna, the Dnipro Contemporary Culture Centre. 

More information on the SWAP programme

Ukraine-based artists

Yevgen Nikiforov (b. 1986, Vasylkiv, Ukraine) is an artist based in Kyiv, Ukraine. Started professional photography practice in 2005. Since 2013 has been working on independent documentary projects. Current projects: “Ukrainian Soviet Mosaics” (2013-2019) and “On Republic’s Monuments” (2014-1019). The main idea behind his photography practice is to capture the essence of the place in its transition through time and shifts influenced by economic, social or natural forces. The key subject of Nikiforov’s research is the urban environment as a main “battlefield” of ideological clashes, the city as a “map” of invisible tensions existing in society (-es). One of the major topics of his work for almost 4 years is the Soviet cultural heritage and architecture objects left in towns all around Ukraine and the controversial attitude towards it today. Yevgen has spent the residency in Scotland at Hospitalfield and Glasgow Sculpture Studios during September-October 2019.

Oleksandra Kadzevych (b.1991, Odesa, Ukraine) is an artist based in Odesa, Ukraine. In 2011 she graduated from the Painting Department of the Grekov Art College in Odesa and in 2018 she completed the "Artist" сourse at the Kyiv Academy of Media Arts. Her work is focused and developed around objects and sculptures into which she integrates the language of painting, collage, drawing and installation using various materials – newspaper cutouts, tissue, cardboard, wood, etc. In her artistic practice, she registers small reality errors, barely noticeable errors of logic, fluctuations and other “instabilities” that constructs the visible world around through which the ripple of real-life breaks. At the same time, she is exploring the field of historical memory, its transformation and the facets of perception. Oleksandra has spent the residency in Scotland at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and Pier Arts Centre during September-October 2019.

Taras Kovach (b. 1982, Uzhgorod, Ukraine) is based in Kyiv, Ukraine. He graduated from the department of Graphic Arts at the National Academy of Arts and Architecture in Kyiv. Kovach is a graphic artist, author of objects and installations. Working with graphics, he rethinks and conceptualizes traditional printing methods, trying to demystify them. As an artist, he is interested in the theme of everyday life and the urban landscape. Studying the everyday environment, he rethinks the concept of centre and periphery. Taras has spent the residency in Scotland at Scottish Sculpture Workshop and Dundee Contemporary Arts centre during September-October 2019.

Ukrainian curator in residency

Anastasiia Khlestova (b. 1989, Luhansk) is a curator based in Kharkiv. She received a master’s degree in Art History at the Kharkiv State Academy of Design and Art. Anastasiia is working with the topics of art process and the place of a young artist in the structure of contemporary art process. Her focus is the modes of functioning of artist-run spaces, local artistic institutional history, as well as young artists and their personal stories. Anastasiia has spent the residency in Scotland at Cove Park during September-October 2019.

UK-based artists

Jocelyn McGregor (b. 1989, Boston, UK) is a sculptor based in Cumbria, UK. She graduated with a BFA in Fine Art from the Ruskin School of Fine Art, Oxford University; and an MFA in Sculpture from the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL. Using her own body as a starting point, Jocelyn seeks the point of transition between internal and external, organic and manufactured, real and imagined worlds. By reconfiguring domestic and industrial materials, she blurs the boundaries between the natural world and the manufactured one to create a super-natural hybrid of the two. Jocelyn has spent the residency in Kharkiv at Yermilovcentre during September-October 2019.

Manca Bajec (b. 1982, Ljubljana, Slovenia) is an artist, writer and researcher based between London, UK and Ljubljana, Slovenia. Manca received a Practice-led PhD from the Royal College of Art, London, an MA in Sculpture from the Academy of Fine Art and Design, a Master of Arts in Curating from the University of the Arts, London and a BA in Visual Arts and Disciplines of Performance from the Academy of Fine Art, Venice. Her interdisciplinary work concerns and creates a specific language through observation of national histories and memories, politics, space and society. It is inspired by her work as a stage designer and curator and is particularly concerned with analytically positioning work within a space and building environments and atmospheres. Manca has spent the residency in Kharkiv at Yermilovcentre during September-October 2019.

Alishia Farnan (b.1992, Glasgow, Scotland) is an artist who lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland. She graduated with a BA in Fine Art Photography from The Glasgow School of Art. Her work engages with social architecture and its place in society. Using photography, she examines social history and her practice is rooted in a sense of legacy, place and culture. She is the co-founder of Peach Estate, a platform for showcasing photographic talent from around the world. Alishia has spent the residency in Dnipro at ArtSvit Gallery, Kultura Medialna and DCCC during September-October 2019.

Catherine Losing (b. 1985, Doncaster, UK) is a photographer and director based in London. Catherine received a BA (hons) in Photography at Nottingham Trent University, UK. Her work is largely based in still life. Using objects and studio photography to convey concepts, narratives and recreate memories in purpose-built environments. Catherine has spent the residency in Odesa at Museum of Odesa Modern Art during October 2019.

Robbie Coleman (b.1960, Kelowna, Canada) and Jo Hodges (b.1962, Ipswich, UK) have a shared multidisciplinary public arts practice. Their context led work investigates ecological and socio-cultural systems, processes and relationships, and explores new ways of working in public. They are interested in research, experimentation and collaboration and exploring how art can contribute to new thinking around social and ecological change. Duet’s practice takes a range of forms; research, socially engaged and participatory projects and processes, permanent and temporary works and site-specific installations. Robbie and Jo has spent the residency in Lviv at Jam Factory Art Center during October-November 2019.

Loreal Prystaj (b. 1990, New York, USA) is a visual artist based in London, UK, recently graduating with an MA in Photography from the Royal College of Art. Her work presently focuses on the subconscious and inherited psyche. By performing as or ‘playing’ in cultural motifs – narratively or decoratively – Prystaj transforms once familiar spaces into mise en scène that highlights the connection between the physical environment and the internal states past and present. She expresses these ideas through photography, collecting, installation, and sculptural interpretation. Loreal has spent the residency in Lviv at Lviv Centre for Urban Histories during October-November 2019.