On Saturday, July 9th at 7 PM, the Pino Pascali Foundation will present the artwork Inverso Mundus (2015) by the collective of Russian artists AES+F, winners of the 18th edition of the Pino Pascali Award. Seven years after being awarded the prize, the Russian collective founded in 1987 by Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovich, and Evgeny Svyatsky + Vladimir Fridkes, returns to Polignano a Mare, in a project curated by Rosalba Branà, to exhibit their work as well as to present a project for peace, in collaboration with the International Center “European Integration of Ukraine” (NGO).

Inverso Mundus (2015) will be screened in the main room of the Pino Pascali Foundation. This video installation is inspired by 16th-century engravings of “Mundus Inversus” which offer a radically overturned representation of traditional roles and social relations, in which humans’ and animals’ positions are inverted to produce impossible scenarios. ln Inverso Mundus, the scenes of the Medieval Carnival are presented as episodes of contemporary life in which the characters play in absurd social utopian settings and swap masks, thus turning from beggars to rich people, from police officers to thieves.

The project is conceived as an opportunity to reflect upon the positions that have been put forward in cultural debates during these dramatic weeks that have seen the war in Ukraine unfold, and to present contemporary art as a peaceful tool, a common ground that brings people from different countries and cultures together.

During the video screening at the Pino Pascali Foundation, the Russian collective will be offering viewers the opportunity to donate to support the Art Residence “Rosokhy Sas Nest” in Ukraine, which currently serves as a shelter for artists and their families from Eastern regions of Ukraine escaping the war and has already received a generous contribution by the artists of AES+F.

Since the beginning of the war, the Art Residence “Rosokhy Sas Nest” has been transformed into a shelter for over 50 refugees. The Ukrainian village of Rosokhy in the Stariy Sambir territory is only 4 km from the border with Poland, also known as Smilnytsia Crossing. From the beginning of the war in Ukraine, 11 villages in this territory have hosted 821 internally displaced people (305 women, 170 men, 346 children). In particular, the villages of Rosokhy and Voloshinovo have welcomed 83 internally displaced people (67 adults and 16 children). Many displaced people and refugees, a third of whom are children, are fleeing to Poland and still need accommodation, food, and medical assistance for their physical and mental health. There is, therefore, an urgent need to create new structures and raise funds to support the initiative. The international donations helped to renovate communal spaces for the refugees. In the last month, it became apparent that the refugees need more than just a shelter but also psychological rehabilitation and employment to sustain and return to active life. In partnership with the International Center “European Integration of Ukraine” the Art Residence “Rosokhy Sas Nest” have started “rehabilitation sessions” for the refugees’ families in the frame of “The territory of rehabilitation project”.

Viewers of Inverso Mundus will be provided with the NGO’s bank details to make a voluntary donation to support this center, in the spirit of collaboration that sees art as a bond between cultures that goes beyond borders in support of humanity.

AES+F wrote in their statement:We represented Russia for many years at various international exhibitions, including the Russian Pavilion of the Venice Biennale in 2007. On February 24th we put a black field on our Instagram, signed anti-war petitions, and went silent… This was not a silence of conformism or agreement; this was a silence of shock and impotence…

A month and a half has passed since the start of the invasion. The Putin regime continues to commit war crimes, destroying Ukrainian cities, killing thousands of civilians, depriving millions of their homes, families, and futures.

After fear for our loved ones, depression, shame of our powerlessness and the feeling of guilt, gradually came understanding of the new reality which we all find ourselves in, and what is possible to do in that reality. There is no more neutrality, you are either against the war and Russian fascism, or you support it. We have made our choice. 

We cannot represent a country that is undertaking a genocidal war of aggression, brainwashing its own population, and repressing and terrorizing its citizens for protesting even with blank placards. We canceled all upcoming exhibitions with Russian state institutions, and we will not resume any projects in Russia until this regime is no longer in power. 

Among other initiatives and NGOs that provide relief, we are supporting our old Ukrainian friend, Vira Nanivska, who in the early 90s organized our first exhibitions in Europe together with Ukrainian artists. Some time ago she built an art residency at her farm in the Carpathians, West Ukraine. Now this residency and a few nearby villages shelter almost a thousand refugees. <…> 

Everyone who wants to join us in supporting the shelter for refugees in the Carpathians can donate to a non-profit local charity organization “International Center “European Integration of Ukraine” (NGO), with which Vira Nanivska is working”.