The exhibition presents the works of two young artists from Ukraine – Yasia Khomenko and Gamlet. Not an artistic duo, the two are independent artists sharing a passion for visual storytelling.
The idea of the exhibition was born during Yasia’s and Gamlet’s brief study trip to Warsaw, where they were able to inspect the Zachęta Project Room, explore the city and discuss the planned joint exhibition. Their common experience of carrying out international projects from the position of a European artist, but one from outside the area of unrestricted travel and transportation of goods (and art-works), made the artists – who can hardly be said to lack a sense of humour – come up with the idea of their art as contraband and themselves as ‘artistic smugglers’.
Gamlet says that when he is invited to do an exhibition in another country (especially when the budget is not very big), it is usually easier for him to create something on the site to avoid the nightmare of dealing with the transborder shipment and custom formalities. At other times, for the same reason, it is simpler to bring the works in personal luggage.
In the presented series of colour drawings, Yasia Khomenko references the theme of contraband almost literally. The fragmentariness of the real-life situations depicted, the choice of standard A4 format and other clues make these seem like notes in a sketchbook, an attempt to capture the passing moment. Travel is the main theme of this visual narrative; the preparations for and a trip itself are shown, with a particular focus on the part where a traveller from the ‘wrong’ side of the border is typically treated as a potential smuggler. Many of Khomenko’s drawings are based on images found through google, the artist searching for a keyword (a place or an issue) and then using the images provided by google in a random manner, without verification, which produces an interesting mix of truth, fiction or error. One of Ukraine’s most prominent up-and-coming fashion designers, Khomenko shows also a collection of costumes-objects which ‘played’ in her ‘artistic smuggling’ performance: a flight from Kyiv to Warsaw, with those objects put on her, the photographic documentation of which is presented.