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When Russia Invaded Ukraine, This Curator Had to Think Fast. See Photos of Her Journey to Deliver Art Safely to Venice

When Russia Invaded Ukraine, This Curator Had to Think Fast. See Photos of Her Journey to Deliver Art Safely to Venice

On February 24, the day Russia attacked Ukraine, Maria Lanko, a co-owner of the Naked Room Gallery in Kyiv, woke up to the sounds of explosions. It was a shock, but not a surprise for Lanko and her community.

Her car had a full tank of gas. Inside the trunk were three boxes filled with bronze funnels, the main components of the installation by artist Pavlo Makov, who will represent Ukraine at its national pavilion at the upcoming Venice Biennale.

Lanko, a co-curator of the pavilion, understood that, whatever happened, “I could just take them to Venice, and anyway we will be present there even if it was a symbolic presence,” she said at the Talking Galleries New York conference last week. “At least there will be a part of the work that’s the core of it.”

That night, Lanko hit the road and drove west.

Her journey took three weeks, during which unimaginable things happened back home. “February 24 is the end of history,” she said. “The end of the end of history. We started a new calendar that day.” On the 21st day of the new calendar, Lanko arrived in Venice, soon reuniting with Markov. His installation would become a reality after all—for the first time and almost three decades after its conception, in 1994.

The fountain is a kinetic sculpture consisting of 78 bronze funnels, arranged in the form of a pyramid. The water poured into the top funnel divides into two streams, feeding the funnels below. “Only a few drops reach the bottom, symbolizing exhaustion on a personal and global level,” the curators said in a press release. 

Below are the images of the project and Lanko’s journey from Kyiv to Venice.

“Fountain of Exhaustion” by Pavlo Makov, to be presented at the Venice Biennale next week. Courtesy: Maria Lanko.

Things happened along the way. Courtesy: Maria Lanko.

The bronze funnels boxed up and awaiting transportation to Venice. Courtesy: Maria Lanko.

Approaching the Romanian border, 521 miles from Kyiv. Courtesy: Maria Lanko.

Ukrainian pavilion co-curators Lizaveta German (left), chief editor of IST Publishing Borys Filonenko, artist Pavlo Makov, and Maria Lanko. Courtesy: Maria Lanko.

Artist Pavlo Makov by his “Fountain of Exhaustion” in 1996. © Pavlo Makov. Courtesy: Maria Lanko.

Signs are going up in Venice in preparation for the biennale. Courtesy: Maria Lanko.


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