Mykola Ridnyi, Blind Spot, 2014–15. Courtesy the artist

Mykola Ridnyi, Blind Spot, 2014. Courtesy the artist

Mykola Ridnyi, Regular Places, 2014–15. Courtesy the artist

Mykola Ridnyi, Regular Places, 2014–15. Courtesy the artist

Mykola Ridnyi, Wrong Connection, 2013. Courtesy the artist

Mykola Ridnyi is a visual artist based in Ukraine. He was born and studied in Kharkiv where he was a member and curator of the gallery-lab of the artistic SOSka group. Ridnyi creates short films, installations, sculptures, works in public space and essays about art and politics.

Mirroring Orwell’s journey to the industrial North, he is artist in residence in Newcastle for the Festival month. The residency is in partnership with Izolyatsia cultural platform in Ukraine, and supported by British Council as part of their Canny Creatives programme in Ukraine.

In this artist talk, Ridnyi will discuss his artistic practice and screen a selection of his short films. The experience of his residency in Newcastle will be discussed with Festival director Rebecca Shatwell, who will also talk about the wider context of the AV Festival’s partnership with Izolyatsia cultural platform in Kyiv.

Ridnyi’s work is located within the current social and political reality of Ukraine and the development of contemporary neoliberalism in post-Soviet countries. It draws on the fragility and resilience of individual stories and collective histories, often by setting up different relationships and conflicts between sound and image.

In the video Fortress, material filmed during the revolution at Maidan Square in Kyiv in 2013–2014 is accompanied by a voice over of texts on the history of the European Middle Ages, connecting the ethics of political protest with a struggle for medieval cities against ruthless barons. Found footage is often deployed as an extra layer to conflate fiction and reality. In Regular Places the sound from YouTube clips of confrontations between Maidan and anti-Maidan activists in Kharkiv, East Ukraine, are sharply edited with video footage of the city ‘restored to normality’ filmed by the artist. As we see people go to work or walking with children, these echoes of violence and nationalism exist.

In other works the artist has carried out interviews with individuals who are witnesses of political systems and ideologies. Dima is a record of the artist’s interview with the eponymous Dima, edited with footage of him creating a granite model of a police boot for the artist and a Soviet era cartoon of a good militiaman. These parallel enquiries revolve around Dima’s history as an ex-policeman who abandoned the police service and now works as a stonemason. Ridnyi’s work was created just before the beginning of the Maidan protests. During the extraordinary conversations between Dima and the artist he talks about the deficiencies of the law, believing that only a civic protest can counter the decay of the state.

Izolyatsia is a cultural platform founded in Donetsk, forcibly occupied by the Donetsk People’s Republic paramilitary and then exiled and relocated to Kyiv in June 2014. From Kyiv it initiates and presents projects throughout Ukraine and the world, including: ZMINA, a series of educational and creative initiatives in Eastern Ukraine; the international residency program Architecture Ukraine (Mariupol-Kyiv); the exhibition Culture and Conflict: IZOLYATSIA in Exile at the Palais de Tokyo (Paris), DOX Centre for Contemporary Art (Prague) and Friedensfest (Augsburg, Germany); and the #onvacation project at La Biennale di Venezia (Venice).

Artist Talk + Screening: Mykola Ridnyi

FREE, no booking required

Fri 25 March, 7–8.30pm

Tyneside Cinema

10 –12 Pilgrim Street