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Dnipro will host ‘Construction’ festival dedicated to Ukrainian hardcore and grassroots initiatives

The festival of audiovisual art and new media will be held in Dnipro for the first time since the full-scale invasion. The theme of the eighth festival ‘Construction’, which will last from November 10 to 12, is ‘Ukrainian Hardcore: Learning from the Grassroots’. The festival will focus on the wartime experiences and will invite self-organized initiatives working at the intersection of culture, activism and volunteer practices. DTF Magazine asked the festival director Andrii Palash and the co-curator of the visual and discussion program Kateryna Rusetska about the program and the idea of the festival

About the history of the festival

The first ‘Construction’ was a cultural response to the revolution of dignity. In 2013, the team faced a choice: leave the city or stay and initiate change through culture. Kateryna and Andrii recall that in 2014 Dnipro strongly felt the war. Now, also because it is a transit and rear city, the feelings have only become more acute.

«‘It is after the shock that one comes to realize that culture is the foundation that needs to be developed even in the most difficult conditions, — they said. — If you don’t, everything will disappear and in a few years you will have to start from scratch’.

‘Construction’ festival, 2016
Photo: Yurii Stefaniak

The original goal of the festival was also to revitalize Dnipro’s cultural space, which is associated only with industry. Among the locations of last year’s ‘Construction’ were a philharmonic hall, a library, a planetarium and a museum. Immersive and musical performances were organized in the former Bryansk Church (now the House of Organ and Chamber Music — Note from DTF Magazine), an exhibition of contemporary art was held in the premises of the railway station, and a rave was held in the abandoned Palace of Illich.

Regarding the locations of the current ‘Construction’, the organizers have a plan A and a plan B.

‘On the one hand, we want events to take place in well-equipped venues with fast internet, high-quality lighting and acoustics. On the other hand, we are constantly thinking about the safety of visitors and artists. We are still deciding how to find a balance between the quality of the event and safety’.

How ‘Construction’ works during full-scale war

From the beginning of the war, the team was in a state of shock, but already at the end of March they started to organize the first events. They focused on two formats of work: fundraising events abroad and resuming work in Dnipro, strengthening cooperation with other organizations remaining in the city at that time.

They spent most of their time at the Center for Contemporary Culture in Dnipro (they are its residents and co-founders. — Note from DTF Magazine): they opened the space to the audience, organized small events, collaborated with humanitarian and volunteer organizations in the format of a social hub.

‘Construction’ festival, 2019
Photo: Vlad Lemm

‘Over time, we managed to adapt and survive a very difficult winter together, — Kateryna and Andrii say. — At such a critical and drastic moment, we still managed to pull together and continue to work with the majority of the team’.

Among the foreign projects of 2022 is participation in the development of the program of the Unsound music festival in Krakow. Participants spoke about the challenges faced by the Ukrainian music community, particularly on the topics of internal displacement, westsplaining and war in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Hardcore: Learning from the Grassroots

Initially, the idea was based on the theme of roots — ‘something that keeps us all together, has a connection with the past and at the same time is the basis for the future’. But thanks to the co-curator of the discussion program Michał Murawski, this idea was transformed into Ukrainian hardcore — the foundation formed by various self-organized movements.

The term ‘hardcore’ was first used in 1841 and it was related to building construction. The word referred to a shifting foundation made up of rubble, bricks, and rubbish. ‘It is a foundation assembled from as many different elements as possible, sometimes construction remnants that seem unimportant, but it is on them that something new, strong and robust grows’.

‘This metaphor resonated with us in the context of Ukrainian grassroots initiatives (the organizers of ‘Construction’ — a public organization ‘Kultura Medialna’, which is also a grassroots initiative. — Note from DTF Magazine), which, in our opinion, are the foundation for the development of civil society, — Andrii and Kateryna said. — In addition, they perfectly describe the Ukrainians’ inclination towards decentralization, self-organization and even anarchism to a certain extent’.

Since the beginning of the full-scale war, many initiatives (according to statistics from the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, the number of charitable organizations registered in the first four months of the full-scale war was four times higher than in 2021. In general, from February 24 to June 30, 2022, 3364 charitable and 1001 civil organizations were registered. — Note from DTF Magazine) have transformed their activities. Some of them have become charitable foundations that take people out of frontline areas and help the military and IDPs.

‘We want to talk about collectivity again, to introduce communities from different regions of Ukraine to each other, who often do not have the time or space for such interaction, — Kateryna said in a press release. — Dnipro — a rear and volunteer city — is suitable for this, after all, we have always been and remain a transit city’.

Festival program

The three-day program will include an educational and discussion program, a music program, a visual arts program, and a film screening program.

Film program

Curator: Oleksandr Teliuk

The films are about groups united on the basis of worldview interests, a tragic accident, or a struggle for justice.

‘Construction’ festival, 2016
Photo: Yurii Stefaniak

‘Each of these films is united by the idea that high-quality grassroots connections and horizontal trust are fundamental to Ukrainian society’, the ‘Construction’ team adds.

The film program will include a selection of Ukrainian short films about human rights ‘Civil Pitch 2.0’ by Docudays UA, ‘One Day in Ukraine’ by Volodymyr Tykhyy and ‘New Jerusalem’ by Yarema Malashchuk and Roman Khimey.

Music program

Curators: Andrii Palash and Olena Pohonchenkova

This section of the festival is divided into two themes: the foundation of the 90s, which still influences the Ukrainian music scene, and the grassroots underground labels, which are founded, in particular, also during the full-scale war. Among the formats are live and audiovisual performances, as well as an educational and discussion part.

‘Construction’ festival, 2019
Photo: Yunona Prud

The list of artists and panelists includes Acid Jordan, Chillera, Evgen Goncharov, Igor Yalivec, Ihor Tsymbrovsky, iiteration, Ivan Skoryna, Diana Derii + Ksztalt, maxandruh b2b Yuriy Bulychov, Mlin Patz, Motoblok, Mutafory Lili , Ujif Notfound and Vlad Yakovlev.

Discussion program

Curators: Kateryna Rusetska and Michał Murawski

The discussion program ‘Radical Reconstruction: Re-rooting the Ukrainian Commons’ will cover the topic of rebuilding cultural relations between communities and the idea of physical reconstruction of infrastructure and housing. Participants will talk about strategies towards the politics, economics and ethics of reconstruction rooted in the deep fabric of Ukraine’s society, heritage and environment.

‘Construction’ festival, 2017
Photo: Vlad Lemm

The two-day symposium ‘Radical Reconstruction: Re-Rooting the Ukrainian Commons’ proposes to refocus the conversation on rebuilding from abstract and top-down schemes to the experiences of grassroots initiatives carrying out life-saving emergency rebuilding work in vulnerable communities.

Art program

Curators: Kateryna Rusetska and Clemens Poole

The exhibition ‘Nevertheless’ presents the work of 11 artists and art collectives brought together by their bifurcated practical and creative experiences during a full-scale invasion. The exhibit can be viewed from November 10 through February 10, 2024.

The participants will talk about the foundation on which the activity of Ukrainian artists after February 24 is based. In particular, they plan to find answers to the following questions: ‘Is a return to creative activity possible after a complete suspension from it?’ and ‘How to pull yourself together when you are shattered?’.

‘Construction’ festival, 2021
Photo: Arsen Dzodzaev

The art program will present works by Beauty Studio, fantastic little splash, Freefilmers, Ihor Okuniev, Yevhen Korshunov, Petro Ryaska, Karina Synytsia, Tamara Turliun, Tereza Yakovyna, Diana Derii and Ørjan Amundsen.

For those who are not currently in Dnipro but want to support the ‘Construction’ festival, the team has prepared the ‘Remote Construction’ project. This is an opportunity to help with the event and receive a gift box with recordings of discussions, musical performances and additional materials of the festival.

You can see the full program on the festival’s website.

Design partner —
Development — Mixis