The Shadow of Dream* cast upon Giardini della Biennale


        * Dream - is literary translation of Mriya — Ukrainian aircraft, the biggest in the world.


  According to Ralph Rugoff, the artistic director of the 2019 Venice Biennale, the biennale’s key theme will highlight the notion that an artwork’s content lies not within the work itself but rather in the dialogues surrounding it: the dialogue between the artist and the work, the work and the public, and the various publics among themselves. The most important thing about any exhibition is not what hangs on the wall, but what the viewers may do with the experience after the show's over.


The aircraft An-225 Mriya flies over Giardini della Biennale. Casting a shadow over the park, it makes a circle and flies back to Ukraine. In a way, this short line forms a miniature poem.


Mriya, the world’s largest aircraft, will cast a shadow over one of the most prominent events in the world of contemporary art. As 285 tons of steel whiz above the viewers, we will separate them from the sun for a few seconds. There’s no knowing how many will ask, “What was it?” It's the flapping of butterfly wings that may have far-reaching implications.


Aside from the world’s largest aircraft and its symbolically charged name (Mriya means “dream” in Ukrainian), sunlight as such will also play a crucially important role. In antiquity, people believed that light emanated from their eyes, lighting up everything they saw. Had that been the case, our project would have been irrelevant, given that cutting the viewers off from the sun for a couple of seconds is its most important element, regardless of the presence or absence of clouds. We might mention Giorgio de Chirico and the movement of metaphysical painting he established in 1916. In Pittura metafisica, metaphors and dreams become a vehicle that allows thoughts to transcend the boundaries of conventional logic, with the effect of unreality further highlighted by the contrast between realistically depicted objects and the whimsical atmosphere surrounding them. We want to elicit a similar effect through different means.


The next question is, what fills the object casting the shadow? What are its contents, even if they do not affect the shape of its shadow? Importantly, the plane carries the list of all contemporary Ukrainian artists, regardless of their style, age, gender or ideological beliefs. This list of the living, almost a telephone book’s worth, might serve as a reminder that, in the 28th year of its independence, Ukraine still doesn't have a museum or a collection of contemporary art. 


Could it be a sort of koan? That brings us back to this text's opening, which describes the title The Shadow of Dream* cast upon Giardini della Biennale as a freestanding poem. It could be that our idea is nothing short of the world’s most ambitious poetry illustration. We are yet to grasp the full complexity of our times; in all likelihood, it's no longer possible or justifiable to address the public with layered or hyper-elaborate messages. One of the most important resources of our times, the human attention span, is dwindling, which means that we have to speak briefly, maybe even in snippets, separating objects from their shadows.


The Mriya (Dream) aircraft carries information, namely, the list of artists. It can be interpreted as a list of men and women who “had a dream,” explicit or obscure, verbalized or even unconscious. These artists lingered outside the global context of contemporary art, on the cultural periphery of the so-called first world, for decades, due to personal, historical and pragmatic reasons. Some contributed willingly to their own marginalization, espousing the doctrine that remained dominant in the country for 80 years, either honestly or for market reasons. For many, the choice was ideological, and those artists might approach the Venice Biennale as yet another fair of bourgeois, capitalist art. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine a Ukrainian nonconformist artist of the 1970s-1990s who didn’t dream of taking part in one of the most high profile art events in the world.


Can we tell to what degree the history of Ukrainian art in the 20th century was shaped by its practitioners, and to what extent it was merely a product of the tragic political and historical circumstances? Did these artists dream of Giardini? A restoration of historical justice for some, the flight over Giardini might be interpreted by others to mean that Biennale, too, can be questioned or cast into shadow. We can only say for sure that it will serve as a testament and reminder of the global phenomenon of “semi-presence” in culture.


Therefore, the world’s biggest cargo aircraft, Mriya, will fly over Giardini as part of the The Shadow of Dream* cast upon Giardini della Biennale project. The plane will carry information about every Ukrainian artist. Mriya will cast a shadow over the Giardini della Biennale park for several seconds. All that will remain is the myth of the shadow over Giardini, shown and retold at the Ukrainian exhibition at the Venice Arsenal. The Ukrainian national project for the 58th Venice Biennale will be comprised of the flight itself, and the reproduction of the myth about it. 

About the pavilion:


The Ukrainian national pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale (La Biennale di Venezia) will present the project entitled The Shadow of Dream* cast upon Giardini della Biennale project.

The Ukrainian pavilion is organized by the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, and co-organized by Labirynt Gallery (Lublin, Poland). Commissioner: Ministry of Culture of Ukraine and Svitlana Fomenko, First Deputy Minister of Culture of Ukraine. Project curator: Open Group (Yuriy Biley, Pavlo Kovach, Stanislav Turina, and Anton Varga).


Press conference: May 9, 2019.

Official opening: May 9, 2019.

Mriya Plane Flying Over Giardini della Biennale: May 9, 2019.

Location: The National Pavilion will be located in ARSENALE, SESTIERE CASTELLO CAMPIELLO TANA 2169/F, 30122 VENEZIA.


Exhibition duration: May 11 through November24, 2019.

Organizer: Ministry of Culture of Ukraine.

Coorganizer: Labirynt Gallery (Lublin, Poland).


Brief biographical information about the curator:

Open Group

Open Group was established in Lviv in 2012 by 6 Ukrainian artists. The group's structure changed over the years, and it presently consists of four members: Yuriy Biley, Pavlo Kovach, Stanislav Turina, and Anton Varga. They occasionally invite other artists or activists to take part in their projects and join the Open Group.

Group members have been spearheading the creation of independent spaces, such as Detenpyla Gallery or Еfremova26 Gallery (2013-2014) in Lviv, since 2011.

Open Group won the Special Distinction of the PinchukArtCentre Prize in 2013, and the Main Prize in 2015. Their works were featured at the Ukrainian National Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale. In 2016, the Open Group curated the show entitled Dependence Degree, Collective Practices of Young Ukrainian Artists 2000-2016 (Wrocław, Poland).

In 2017, the group's work was presented under the aegis of the Future Generation Art Prize @ Venice 2017 (collateral events of the 57th Venice Biennale).



Labirynt Gallery

Labirynt is one of the largest galleries in Poland, established in 1956. It is one of the few galleries to cooperate with and explore contemporary Central and Eastern European artists. Waldemar Tatarczuk, the gallery's director since 2010, continues Labirynt's tradition. 




The exhibition will continue: May 11 - November 24, 2019.

The 58th International Art Exhibition in Venice, entitled May You Live in Interesting Times will be held at the Giardini della Biennale and Arsenale. The President of the Venice Biennale 2019 is Paolo Baratta, curator - Ralph Rugoff. National projects will be presented in pavilions at Giardini and Arsenale, as well as in the historic center of Venice.

The presentation of the 58th International Art Exhibition in Venice for professional circles will take place from May 8th to 10th, 2019.

Official website: