(After)Anniversaries of Avant-Garde
29 April 2018

Taking part in the On April 29, 2018, at 2 pm, Lviv National Museum (Prosp. Svobody, 20) hosted a public discussion "(After)Anniversaries of Avant-Garde: on Realized Projects, New Contexts, and Cooperation"

The rhythm of anniversaries shapes and formats our perceptions on the frameworks and canons of history and culture. They could be formalized by rituals that fade away and are the subjects for irony. But they can also help create causes to mainstream the events and personalities of the past, to activate the attitudes, to update contexts, to change the frames for perceiving and understanding the present day. Even though, the event calendar in Lviv and Ukraine is overflowing, there are many events that should have taken place but were either ignored or underpublicized in professional communities and in media. Some of them – unnoticed or non-existent – are the topics of the program "Culture (without) Spaces: On Avant-Garde Heritages in Lviv." In this discussion, we will have a chance to learn about ambitious initiatives implemented beyond Lviv and Ukraine, even though thematically are related to them and show numerous transnational links and multidimensional local contexts of culture of the first half of the 20th century, even though disrupted and thus little represented.

One of such topics is the Avant-Garde that is still little and fragmentary known in Lviv. It can illustrate what a challenge it could be for Ukraine to realize and include heritage of Modernisms that used to be part of creating new projects and visions, from Soviet Ukraine with Derzhprom in Kharkiv, to the House of Romania in Chernivtsi, from Czechoslovakian state and Masaryk school in Uzhgorod and modernist Poland with the Office of Electrical Institutions in Lviv. Those are only the visible traces that often lack physical maintenance and understanding of their functions, meanings, and contexts. In terms of pieces of art and texts, the process of learning about them, reflecting over them, and including them is still on the initial and slow stage. The process requires and encourages shaping a different understanding of what canons of national culture are, on how they shall be changed in order to be able to fully represent the rich, abundant, intense and diverse cultural processes of those times.

Some examples of such reconsideration is the Year of Avant-Garde in 2017 in Poland. The ambitious idea resulted in museum success and generated a network of projects and cooperation that included both large museums and galleries. The implemented projects offered new approaches and contexts, they highlighted unfamiliar subjects or encouraged to take a critical stance on the topics known before. Lviv/Lwów/Lemberg was notable represented in several large exhibitions: "Lviv. June, 24, 1937. City, Architecture, Modernism" ("Lwów, 24 czerwca 1937. Miasto, architektura, modernizm") in Cracow International Center of Culture focused on architecture of the city, whereas "Montages. Debora Vogel and New Legend of the City" ("Montaże. Debora Vogel i nowa legenda miasta") in the Museum of Arts in Łódź suggested a new perspective on cultural processes and on urban life in Lviv. The concluding exhibition in the National Museum in Warsaw "Urban Revolt. Avant-Garde Art from the Collection of the National Museum in Warsaw" ("Miejska rewolta. Awangarda w zbiorach Muzeum Narodowego w Warszawie") presented the rarely exhibited drawings and graphic art, some of them also coming from Lviv. 

Even though the Year of Avant-Garde is over, there are new initiatives and ideas to pursue, also about the Avant-Garde in Lviv and in Ukraine. You will learn about the projects implemented and the plans to be from the representatives of the museums initiating the Year of Avant-Garde: Jarosław Suchan, director of the Museum of Arts in Łódź, and Piotr Rypson, vice-director of the National Museum in Warsaw. The future projects of cooperation, and the implemented exhibition projects related to the history of Avant-Garde in Ukraine will be covered by Yuliya Lytvynets, director of the National Arts Museum of Ukraine in Kyiv. The discussion will be moderated by Sofia Dyak, director of the Center for Urban History. 

This discussion is a part of program "Culture (without) Spaces: On Avant-Garde Heritages in Lviv." (April 27-29, Lviv). The program is organized in cooperation with Adam Mickiewicz Institute and supported by Lviv City Council and Lviv National Museum. 

Historian-practitioners and theoreticians from Poland and Ukraine led a dialogue dedicated to examining the following topics: the recasting of the issue of the practical function of historiography as a matter for public discussion, and the formulation in Ukraine of a contemporary and timely social accountability among historians.

Wojciech Wrzosek is Professor of History at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, chief editor of the periodical "Sensus Historiae", and vice-president of the Polish-Ukrainian Historiographical Society. He studied under Jerzy Topolski, a leading light of the Poznań school of methodology. He is engaged in western European – particularly French – theory and history of historiography, and the problems of historical thought and culture. He has authored and edited more than a dozen books on the theory and methodology of history.

Leonid Zashkilnyak is a professor and scholar in the theory and history of historiography at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv.

Marian Mudryi is an associate professor at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, where his research involves the socio-political life in 19th century Galicia, and the problems of teaching history and the role of history in society.

Volodymyr Sklokin is a historian and guest-editor at the historians.in.ua website. His research involves the debate surrounding the social significance of history in contemporary eastern European historiography.

Jerzy Topolski’s monograph "How Do We Write and Understand History? Secrets of Historical Narrative" is a thoughtful, balanced reflection on the concepts of the historian, historical research, and the instructional value of historical inquiry, and how these have been shaped and altered through the centuries. The questions raised and the responses offered by the celebrated Polish historian and methodologist will long remain of invaluable practicality to practitioners – both foreign and domestic – of historiography.