Nov 11, 2022 - Dec 17, 2022
Opening Nov 11, 2022, 6–9 pm
Curated by Dehlia Hannah
From mid April until June 2022 Fabian Knecht planned to walk from Berlin to Moscow, in order to arrive just in time for his solo exhibition at the city’s progressive Szena gallery. The walk itself would have been the exhibition’s central work—an act of artistic determination expressed through a substantial commitment of time and bodily labor, compressed into the bare form of his presence at the opening. Before Knecht could set off, the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, rendered this plan unacceptable. Instead, by early March Knecht was in western Ukraine, meeting with artists who had become soldiers overnight—friends made in 2016 while producing early works in his Isolation series. What they needed, he learned, was not food and clothing but bullet proof vests, tourniquets, and tactical medical packs. Evacuated of artistic motive by the exigencies of the situation, Knecht returned to Berlin and took up collection for packages of defensive body armor and lifesaving equipment, which he promised to deliver himself. This unsettling request, issued to friends and patrons, accompanied by the legal proviso that helmets and bulletproof vests had been reclassified as humanitarian rather than military aid, yielded over 100 kits, which Knecht delivered to Kyiv and other locations on the front lines during the opening week of the Venice Biennale.
It was through these gestures of solidarity that Knecht became acquainted with members of the Kyiv-based volunteer group Livyj Bereh (Left Bank), whose work ranges from reconstructing houses to sourcing vehicles and protective equipment for military units. In the intervening period, he made seven subsequent visits to the country, deepening his involvement with the group and communities that had previously hosted his own artistic endeavors. Having abandoned the imperatives of artistic production (and consumption) under the pressure of a more compelling ethical commitment, Knecht’s path converged with the unshakable conviction of every Ukrainian: to resist Russian aggression with every fibre of their being and resource at their disposal. From this, a new aesthetic clarity was born. There, he joined them for a few steps on Der Weg des größten Widerstandes (The Path of Most Resistance).
- Extract from the press release
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