Sunday, August 17, 2014

An Art and Urban Exploration Festival in Lviv

Yesterday, Yulia and I, along with our fried, Rick, attended an art festival in Lviv--"Urban Exploration Lviv Fest." It was an art exhibition combined with workshops which was held at an old (a three hundred year old!) jam factory. 

This festival was about hosting many of the arts under one roof. There was painting, photography, live theater, music, and cooking all taking place here. And the setting itself--the old jam factory--played a big part. 

As you walk through the rooms and corridors of the building to experience the art, you also explore a forgotten building of Lviv. We noticed a "for sale" sign on the building. Maybe the event was also meant to get the attention of any prospective buyers as well.

We appreciate this approach to art and remembering forgotten places. We like the arts for the different perspective they shine on life and for the experience of encountering something that is beautiful. Yulia and I also appreciate old architecture and think that there are many places with character that are worth saving. 

We were very excited to go to this festival because the arts and old architecture are right up our alley. Unfortunately, we were a little put off right from the start. Upon entering the jam factory a security guard wearing a black Right Sektor uniform stopped us and asked what we were there for. Considering all the fliers posted on the front of the building and the entrance, we were confused. It's not like we had just traipsed onto a military base. We told him we were there for the festival. He directed us to a woman with dreadlocks who pointed us in the direction of the art gallery. 

The experience killed the mood to a small extent, but the artwork there truly was fascinating, if not beautiful. 

The space around the artwork was as interesting as the artwork itself in many cases. 

We decided to skip the workshops and leave early because we came there hungry. The fliers and website advertised that there would be food there, but we didn't see any. The presence of the Right Sektor guards did not help either. Their constant cursing as they talked among each other created a negative atmosphere.

We left with mixed feelings. The artwork was of high quality. The mural in one of the main rooms is probably one of the best I've ever seen. Whereas many murals seem to just be paint on top of a facade, this one seemed to fit the wall as if it was always a part of it. 

Many pieces and installations seemed to have involved a lot of hard work--but the results were fantastic. 

The photography especially stood out to me. It seemed like something I've seen before, but innovative at the same time.

On the other hand, Yulia and I are starting to lose faith in festivals and events. In many cases we feel like we are crashing a private party. Many festivals are very well advertised, but it seems that when we go to them, something is amiss. Maybe this festival was supposed to be more about the workshops. Maybe we were supposed to know through our friends that the food was only supposed to be served at a certain time. It just feels like something is missing when we attend such events. 

Later in the day we went to Ploshcha Rynok, Lviv's main square. Ploshcha Rynok is always bustling with activity, but I realized something interesting about it. At the center of the square is Lviv's city hall, the home of politicians and bureaucrats. Despite the building's seeming conservative, buttoned down quality, it felt freer there than at the abandoned building occupied by art and artists we were at earlier.

What am I missing here? Is it me or is the art movement not quite what it should be? Or should I be focusing on something completely different? Perhaps the difference between public and private spaces (the city square versus an abandoned building in this case)? I'm left feeling confused by this quirk in the culture, but all in all am glad that we went to this event.

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