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Nikita Kadan: text & publications


2017 Sam Steverlynck about 'The High Disease' in H ART, 15 dec 2017




Venice Biennial:  Difficulties of Profanation

A traditional showcase, in its form and material referring to showcases from the Soviet Union, accumulates materials that Nikita Kadan has collected in eastern Ukraine during the war. The rubble inside reveals political narratives with a striking truthfulness: these destroyed artefacts are containers of words, of images and memories that narrate a (present) history. Thus the sculpture deals with the institutionalization of memories, the role of local heritage in forming a historical understanding against the cultural amnesia resulting from the conflicts. The showcase itself, in opposition to the rubble it collects, addresses Ukraine’s Soviet past, a part of history that is rather readily forgotten. It places the current conflict in a historical framework and presents the war as an extension of an established conflict of ideologies.
In between the rubble, inside the showcase, grows a bean plant that over time will cover the destroyed artefacts. It transforms the sculpture into a greenhouse, referring to popular gardens that appeared throughout the conflict, starting on the occupation of Maidan Square and continuing to the warzone in Dombass. These gardens suggest hope, a new start, a future life and process of reconciliation.
“The allegorical character of Hope is traditionally called upon by shipwreck victims, those who are completely at the mercy of external forces. It is easy to make profound generalizations about it for those who are safe on the shore. And it is impossible to describe his situation to the one who is being played by the waves. The experience of a pure, all-encompassing hope, which has replaced everything else, must remain untold. It often appears as an aid, an excuse for leaving loopholes, for thoughtlessness and for not pursuing a matter. We should talk about hope only if we need to exhaust it, to step over it as if it was a threshold, to be on the other side of it. Only then we can calmly walk on the burning ground, smiling and taking full responsibility for our choices.”

Nikita Kadan

"Difficulties of Profanation", 370 x 160 x 160 cm | marble, steel, glass, earth, bean plant, glass and wood

Article in New-York Times, click here to download the pdf




"The incandescent rays of light in Private Suns by Nikita Kadan reflects an aura of freedom – which is increasingly being reduced in public space – from a private space. The visitors remain outside the utopian horizons created by the shining image of the neon suns of a post-socialist metal grid, where others (artists?) have sought to find a new dimension. The grid is only effective as a formal and ideological tool when it is not perceived as an escapist structure."


Interview with Björn Geldhof, Pinchuk Art Center:



FLACC werkplaats voor beeldende kunstenaars | workplace for visual artists

Nikita Kadan (°1982, KYIV) lives in Kyiv. He graduated in 2007 from the National Academy of Fine Art (Kyiv) where he studied on the department of monumental painting under professor Mykola Storozhenko. Since 2004 Nikita Kadan is a member of R.E.P. (Revolutionary experimental space) artists group.
He is co-founder (2008) and a member of HUDRADA (Artistic committee) curatorial and activist group. Kadan works with installation, graphics, painting, mural drawings, posters in the city, often in (interdisciplinary) collaboration - with architects, human rights watch activists and sociologysts.

Kadan often uses the style typical for drawings taken from Soviet medical books. They represent “bodies-objects”, “obedient bodies” from Foucault which can be corrected and improved while their faces always remain calm and quiet, slightly smiling.

The issue of torture is very important for Kadan: starting from the “direct” torture used by the Ukrainian militia (police) to the “hidden torture” such as standing all day long and selling food in the street in winter – elderly women working like this constitute a typical element of the Kiev cityscape. Architecture is another important topic of Kadan’s works in which it is treated as a discipline tool, spatial manifestation of the authority.

The works "Fixing" (2010) and "The Corrupted" (2012) focus on the relations between the body and the city – when certain directions of the city development turn against its inhabitants, their social relations and everyday life, as well as against the body of the individual human being. Fixing is comprised of five lightboxes with images combining medical drawings from the medical encyclopaedia of the 1950s with “supremacist” forms of architectural planning. The city plan turns into an instrument for violent fixing of the citizen’s body. "The Corrupted" constitutes a cycle of watercolour drawings combining architectural elements with human body parts. These architectural-anatomical combinations refer to the Renaissance concept of the anthropomorphic city. The work focuses on the problems of the contemporary post-communist cities in which public space suffers due to aggressive neoliberalism. “The body of the city” is cut to pieces offered for sale.
"Procedure room" (2009-2010) is a set of souvenir plates with imprinted instruction drawings of tortures used by the militia. The selection of forms and visual means is connected with the absence of any clear visual documentation of torture procedures, with their specific “invisibility”.

"Pedestal. Practice of exclusion" installation (2009-2011) consists of o huge model of pedestal and a text on the wall. This white gypsum-cardboard pedestal stands in the exhibition hall touching the ceiling, leaving no place for the monument. The space for the viewer to pass around the pedestal is narrow. White text on pale grey wall is a chronicle of a "war of the monuments" in post-Soviet Ukraine: vandalizing both Soviet and new national-patriotic monuments.

"Small house of giants" (2012) is a combined object, kind of architectural collage, which's parts are living container for builders from 1970s and a model of facade of geometric form referring to Soviet neo-modernist architecture of the same period. "Small house of giants" is a reflection on the shifting social role of the worker within the new capitalist environment in Ukraine. On the other hand this object opens a critical discourse on the fictive heroical position that workers held in the Soviet past.




Nikita Kadan

Nikita Kadan is an artist and activist in Kiev. Here he talks about “Court Experiment,” an exhibition of fifteen Ukrainian artists’ work organized by the curatorial community Hudrada in collaboration with, an Eastern European network of art initiatives. Opening this week at the Visual Culture Research Center at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, the show is on view until November 12.


R.E.P. Group in Conversation with Larissa Babij

New York Times

Ukrainian Art World Gets Political

Published: March 23, 2012

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Gazeta Wyborcza

Cia?o i skojarzenia
Dorota Jarecka
W Muzeum Sztuki w ?odzi otwarto znakomit? wystaw? z okazji 80-lecia kolekcji sztuki nowoczesnej. To zerwanie z muzealn? dydaktyk?. Wystawa po?wi?cona Kobro i Strzemi?skiemu jest pe?na fantazji i zmys?owa


Frieze magazine

by Max Seddon


Frieze blog

Postcard from Kyiv
by Tom Morton



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Flash Art n.269 – November – December 2009

Claire Staebler




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Larissa Babij


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