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Inka Juslin dances
photo by Serge Matsko

Paul Brantley
photo by Serge Matsko

Installation by Marybeth Ward
photo by Andrea Wenglowskyj

Ensemble Hilka
acknowledges the women of Chornobyl
photo by Alannah Farrell

Alla Zahaykevych
photo by Lee Wexler

Yara Arts Group perform Kateryna Babkina
photo by Lee Wexler

Debutante Hour's Susan Hwang
photo by Lee Wexler

Magic in the Wood by Watoku Ueno
photo by Makoto Takeuchi

I & I Atists Collective


Re-Imagine: Ourselves

Yara’s Winter Festival of New Art, Music, Performances, Poetry and Video

Fri Jan 27 -- opening of art and video exhibits with readings by poets and writers
Sat Jan 28 -- aftrenoon participatory music workshop with Alla Zahaykevych from Kyiv
Sat Jan 28 -- evening performances by Yara artists, Alla Zahaykevych,
Ensemble Hilka and Debutante Hour party with food by Olesia Lew
Sun Jan 29 --afternoon shadow puppet show by Watoku Ueno for children from six to 106

Ukrainian Institute of America , 2 East 79th Street at Fifth Avenue, New York


Re-Imagine Art Festival at the Ukrainian Institute of America
NYArts: International Guide to the Art World
reveiw by Maria Froliak

Walking through the rooms of the Ukrainian Institute of America on Friday, January 27th, was like reading through the textual labyrinths of Luis Borges. Each room of the beautiful mansion was transformed into art space offering a fusion takes on the questions surrounding identity, cultural displacement and lost time. Trying to find one’s place between the walls of the past and the future, the artists have created a body of compelling, emotionally charged works. On the ground floor was an installation by Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos made of steel, cotton and mirror, serving as a metaphor to re-imagine the self, while the dance of Inka Juslin invited the audience on higher floors into an unknown, mysterious land of performances, poetry, music and video projections.

On the second floor was an exhibit of black & white and sepia photographs by Petro Hrytsyk. The images, portraying desolated places and abandoned objects infused with a light coming from the depth of the author’s memory, were filled with a nostalgia of Nabokov intensity. In one piece, a butterfly pinned to a wall is a desire and an attempt to stop the moment, the “now”. In another, the image of half ruined Greek statues lying in the middle of a forest and an older man standing with his eyes closed resembles a game of hide and seek.  It begs the question: "are the ruins still there where you played as a child?"

Transmigration, transmutation, transformation, transfiguration- a “trans” in anything- the continuous search to find oneself and to re-invent oneself - was evident in the works presented. The video installation of Katya Grokhovsky, an eternal migrant who spends her time between three countries Ukraine, Australia, America combined the personal and the political in a humorous fashion. The video portrayed the artist performing the male part of the Ukrainian national dance Hopak, while the female part was projected on the screen behind her. Referring to patriarchal regimes, the artist uses her personal experiences coupled with a childhood wish to dance the more dynamic, male role.

Artists’ re-imagination of their selves and their experiences isn't about “drawing a line” that divides the visible and clear (reality) from vague and shadowy (memories, dreams), but rather accepting the inseparability of both.

When the curator Virlana Tkacz rang a little bell, the audience moved from one room to another, as if playing hopscotch, ready to discover more untold stories.


Nova Hazeta, New York 2/2/12

January 27-29 the traditional winter festival that Virlana Tkacz of Yara Arts Group has been organizing and directing for several years now, took place at the Ukrainian Institute of America. This year’s title – “Re-Imagine” or to be more exact “Re-Think: Ourselves.”
Our reporter only had the pleasure of seeing the Saturday performance (of the three day festival), but it obviously was the fullest and most interesting, filled with musical experimentation, surprising songs and unanticipated art reworking.
It is precisely “Re-Imagining,” “Re-Imagining Oneself,” or “Self-Reimagination” – that can be used as a header for all of Virlana Tkacz’s work, the artistic director of Yara Arts Group, whose every project leans towards the relooking and rethinking of ordinary and familiar things. And often there are more questions than answers.
Virlana Tkacz has always been interested in folklore and that which is deepest and most universal in it. So, the evening began with a performance by the folk ensemble Hilka, created by Maria Sonevytsky. The ensemble performed ritual songs from the Chernobyl region, recorded by the Kyiv ethnographer Yevhen Yefremov. These are songs from villages, which no longer exist.  The villages and gardens have disappeared, as have roads and squares, wells and cellars, but the songs live on.  The songs are not harmed by the catastrophe.
It is not too hard to imagine the forbidden zone of Chornobyl, in which people once lived, worked, were born, died, loved, and sung. They sung in a unique chest voice that rises from the depths of the soul. One could imagine them easily in the sound, and you could see them in the photos, old women as old as the land of Polissa that were projected during the New York performance. You can also hear them on audio recordings. You look at the festival program and see the last names of young people – the singers of the ensemble “Hilka”, who just recreated the Polissia songs: Brian Dolphin, Cherrymae Golston, JR Hankins, Julian Kytasty, Julia. Pivtorok, Eva Salina Primack, Ethel Raim, Willa Roberts, Maria Sonevytsky and Shelly Thomas.  You hear how they, people of the Great New York, children of the concrete, so far from the Ukrainian Polissia, are singing those songs of Chornobyl, trying to re-imagine, re-think what was seen and heard…
[Debutante Hour], the other musical group (I really want to write “band”) led by the very talented Maria Sonovytsky, the niece of the famous composer Ihor Sonovytsky, performs in a modern country style. We must mention their interpretation of our “Verkhovyna…”
Also memorable was the electronic music composition “To Breathe” by the famous composer, author of the music to Oleh Sanin’s film “Mamay” Alla Zahaikevych, recipient of the Oleksander Dovzhenko state prize.  As were the magnificent photographs by Petro Hrytsak…
It is not enough o be informed and well-read in order to take in all this information, emotion, and feeling.  “If I could understand and think through all this music, then I could die happy,” said one of the audience members, an intellectual, aesthetic, and a big ironist. Virlana’s creations have yet another goal – they tempt one to live.
Each fragment of the Saturday performance at the festival invited one to think, think over, and re-think, as does, every creative project by Virlana Tkacz and Yara. No matter stage it happens on: Ukrainian, Kyrgyz, Mongolian or American.
This year’s winter festival “Re-Imagine: Ourselves” was presented with the support of the Ukrainian Self-Reliance Federal Credit Union in New York, the restaurant “Veselka-Bowery”, the Coca-Cola Company, New York State Council on the Arts, The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, as well as the friends and people who honor the work of Yara Arts Group.


for more see:

Re-Imagine: Ourselves: description of festival
lists of the different programs all three days events & artists
photo album on facebook


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