The School of the Displaced at the Kyiv Biennial

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As a tragic site of conflict in Europe today, one of the main emphases of The School of the Displaced at the School of Kyiv – Kyiv Biennial 2015 will be the current situation in Ukraine. Kiev in particular faces a tide of internally-displaced persons escaping the east of the country. Next to emergency social institutions, NGOs and volunteers, art and cultural institutions together with artists and the refugees themselves are seeking solutions to the wider artistic, social-psychological and cultural problems that emerge from war and displacement. These are often more difficult to surmount than elementary physical needs, which naturally need resolution first.

Next to potentially traumatic experience of armed conflict, including the loss of life, home and livelihood, there is the task of rebuilding social bonds, mutual respect and cultural life in such a way that it can sustain a peaceful future. The School of Displaced Persons will bring together international and local experiences to find what can be of genuine use in the local context, and translated into contemporary art works, performative actions, architectures, discursive events and printed materials.

The School of Displaced Persons at the School of Kyiv – Kyiv Biennial 2015 is being curated by Marita Muukkonen and Ivor Stodolsky of Perpetuum Mobile in cooperation with Vasyl Cherepanyn of the Kyiv-based Visual Culture Research Center (VCRC) which is a core institution of the biennial.

Participating artists:

Nico Angiuli (born in 1981 in Adelfia, Italy, lives in Bari), Halil Altindere (Born in 1971 in Mardin, Turkey, lives in Istanbul), Juan Pedro Fabra Guemberena (born 1971 in Montevideo, Uruguay and based between Sweden and Berlin), Núria Güell (born 1981, Vidreses, Spain, lives is Barcelona), Abazar A. Bagi Hamid (born in 1971 in Sudan and currently resident in Harstad, Norway),  Dzamil Kamanger (born in 1948 in Mariwan, Iran, lives in Helsinki), Paleface (born in Järvenpää in 1978, lives in Helsinki), Ray Langenbach  (born in Boston, USA in 1948, based in Kuala Lumpur and Helsinki) with David A. R. Ross (born in the USA from which he fled, and paperless in Finland), Marina Naprushkina (born 1981 in Minsk and based in Berlin), Ahmet Ögüt (born in  1981 in Diyarbakir, Turkey, lives in Berlin and Istanbul),  The ZIP Group (Eldar Ganeev, Stepan Subbotin, Vasily Subbotin, Evgeniy Rimkevich, who live in Krasnodar).

Discursive programme: Helge Lunde (ICORN), Enric Duran (FairCoop), Khaled Jarrar. Workshops with all artists, including also Kalle Hamm.


The School of Displaced Persons has been developed on the basis of long-term Perpetuum Mobile projects concerning art-practitioners “at risk”. In particular, the School connects closely to PM’s ongoing programme of short- and longer-term residences for art professionals at risk in their home countries: the “On The Move/Safe Haven” residencies in collaboration with HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme.

The shorter residencies provide a “breather” after serious violations of freedom of expression and speech. Longer-term Safe Haven residencies are being developed in cooperation with ICORN – The International Cities of Refuge Network, SafeMUSE and FreeMUSE  — a project of long-term Safe Haven residencies in the Nordic region for which Perpetuum Mobile is the leading institution in Finland in collaboration with HIAP.

The School of Displaced Persons will share this network of specialists and its resident art practitioners, including Abazar A. Bagi Hamid (Sudan/Norway). Further core participants will be Nordic art professionals who arrived as refugees long ago, such as Juan Pedro Fabra Guembera (Sweden/Uruguay) funded by IASPIS.

Over the past years, Perpetuum Mobile has been developing an ongoing conversation with Vasyl Cherepanyn. During this time, Vasyl was also in residence in Helsinki as part of PM-organized “On The Move” residencies following the difficult incidents concerning his person in Kyiv. This conversation has subsequently developed into the initiative for a School of Displaced Persons which was invited by Georg Schöllhammer and Hedwig Saxenhuber as one of the “Schools of Kyiv” at the School of Kyiv – Kyiv Biennial 2015.

The School of Displaced Persons has close affinities to the overall concept of the Kyiv Biennial, which seek to develop modes of (self-)education that provide alternatives to the current commodification of the university. The biennial is being developed in close dialogue with EU and non-EU thinkers, academics, artists and activists seeking re-imagine the basic artistic and political concepts of a Europe beyond borders.


The School is also developing follow-on projects with partners in Europe, including a Nordic network meeting of partners of the School of the Displaced in Helsinki:

Helsinki – the First Safe Haven City in Finland? Symposium in Ateneum-Hall

Furthermore, will be continued independently of the Kyiv Biennial, with its next stops at Moderna Museet, Malmö and Berlin.


Perpetuum Mobile is grateful for the generous funding of Nordic Culture Point which made this project possible.


Further funders of the School of the Displaced include SafeMUSE, ICORN, IASPIS and in-kind contributions by local actors such as Frolivska 9/11 Volunteer Centre, the Living Room bar-cafe Kiev and Ateneum, National Gallery of Finland.