I can’t believe how quickly time has flown so far this month! IZOLYATSIA and the IZONE Creative Community have been incredible spaces to conduct workshops in and to connect with the arts community here in Kyiv. Before the workshops began, we received an overwhelming amount of applicants to the program. After choosing 34 artists, it has still been a very large group to work with, but full of wonderful and talented humans! The artists in the workshop make up a very diverse group of Ukrainian artists, coming from different places within the country and with varying levels of experience and background in the arts.
It’s been an incredible delight to work with all of the artists, and to have them so engaged in learning new digital skills and envisioning new projects of their own. I’ve been so impressed by their original ideas and concepts — taking the skills I presented in my speculative design workshops and applying them to cultural and ecological issues in Kyiv and Ukraine. I was told that speculative design is not a common practice or taught very often here, and people are having a lot of fun thinking outside of practical design boundaries to reimagine future cultural spaces and technologies along the Dnipro River and elsewhere in Ukraine.
It’s been enlightening to hear about what is important to participants from their cultural context — there are some universal issues, as well as some topics that would not be considered as much by Americans due to our different backgrounds, geographies, and histories.
Each artist in my workshop has had a different vision and speculative design for how they would like to see the future of Ukraine and shared their vision during a critique on the penultimate day of our workshop series. Some artists were really drawn to each others' visions and decided to work together in groups, applying their skills to different parts of a bigger collaborative project. Others were drawn to common themes and have created a new project from these themes. There were some artists that had a lot of difficulty working in large collaborative groups, as this is not a common practice in Ukraine. Most participants are artists who are used to working alone.
Fortunately, after overcoming some obstacles, all the groups were in place and starting to create some incredible works. We had a group excursion to visit Fabricator, one of the biggest fabrication labs in Kyiv, and artists are using this facility to do laser cutting, CNC milling, and 3D printing in addition to IZOLab, the smaller fab lab connected to IZONE.
I’ve been so full of warmth and inspiration working with all of the participants during this time, and am so excited to see all of the works these artists will produce over the next week.