Happy Endings

Kate Sutton on Olafur Eliasson at the PinchukArtCentre

Left: 032c editor Jörg Koch with dealer Burckhard Riemschneider and artist Olafur Eliasson. (Photo: Nikolai Zverkov/SANAHUNT) Right: Artist Olympia Scarry, Salem's Jack Donoghue, and artist Cyprien Gaillard. (Photo: Ivan Kaydash)

LAST FRIDAY, as the would-be-Raptured Craigslisted off their futons, the PinchukArtCentre celebrated what lies ahead: not only its Future Generation Art Prize (which makes its international debut next week in Venice), but also “Your Emotional Future,” Olafur Eliasson’s jaw-dropping (at this point, does he have another mode?) exhibition, seeping through three floors of the building. Eliasson demurely shrugged off a share of the credit: “I just do half the work; you do the rest by coming here.”

And come they did. It helped that SANAHUNT, a luxury concept store, was staging its own version of the Rapture. The store’s crew transported an international team of art/music/fashion up-and-comers—along with their boosters and handlers—to Kiev for a “Cultural Initiative,” a heady mix of events from book launches to boat rides to bacchanal dinners that revealed the city had more to boast about than the idea of wrapping a chicken around a stick of butter.

The program kicked off on Thursday with the opening of “032c Workshop Report #2 (Kiev)” in SANAHUNT’s top-floor gallery space. Photographs by Danko and Ana Steiner surrounded Helen Martens’s assemblage of odd accoutrements. On a mirrored pedestal nearby, Scott Campbell’s meticulously tattooed eggshells earned more than a few gasps, as did Olympia Scarry’s turn about the room in a sublimely eerie Givenchy burka. 032c magazine itself may have stolen the show, however, with a Juergen Teller centerfold that raised more than eyebrows. (032c’s disclaimer quoted the architect Carlo Mollino: “Everything is permissible as long as it is fantastic.”)

Left: On the boat. Right: Photographer Danko Steiner with Visionaire's Cecilia Dean. (Photos: Kate Sutton)

“Fantastic” was an understatement for the exhibition’s afterparty, a Société de 032c bar night in honor of Eliasson. Designer Joseph Altuzarra and artists Jennifer Rubell and Kon Trubkovich lounged on long couches, trying to get a glimpse of the weekend’s host, Oksana Moroz-Hunt, who was decked out in McQueen (see above, re: “fantastic.”) Salem’s Jack Donoghue kicked things off in the DJ booth, treating guests not only to a killer set—including a new Salem track—but also to a video montage as mesmerizing and eclectic as the audio samples. Afterward, Milan’s most beloved extrovert Marcelo Burlon and Broken Hearts Club’s Niki Pauls kept it rowdy on the floor, while smoke machines ensured that even the most image-conscious could dance with abandon.

The party proved an adequate warm-up for Eliasson’s exhibition opening the following day. A recent work, Your Blind Movement, cast visitors in a dense, multicolored fog, not altogether dissimilar from the one that had consumed the dance floor. Visitors were visible in the mist only when they were a few steps away, riddling the otherwise serene experience of immersion with adrenaline.

Upstairs, Room for One Color flooded a space with monofrequency light, which drained all other colors but yellow, so that everyone appeared as if in a black-and-white photograph. “When you lose the other colors, you see each other more,” the artist explained. We paused to give each other a good perusal, discovering that the pull on Pauls’s Comme des Garçons clutch was weirdly glowing its usual neon pink. “How creepy!” said curator Carson Chan. “It’s like that coat from Schindler’s List.”

Left: SANAHUNT Cultural Initiative's Anna Dyulgerova and artist Scott Campbell. (Photo: Nikolai Zverkov/SANAHUNT) Right: Dealer Tanya Bonakdar, Serpentine Gallery director Julia Peyton-Jones, and writer Guy Kennaway. (Photo: Vladimir Shuvaev/PinchukArtCentre)

The opening was followed by what was pitched as a “friendly party” at Brasserie Jean-Claude, situated above the central Besarabsky market. I nursed a glass of champagne with dealer Tanya Bonakdar and writer Guy Kennaway before we were invited to slide down the table to sit with Serpentine director Julia Peyton-Jones and Fondation Louis Vuitton director Suzanne Pagé. As we each struggled to describe our experiences of the exhibition, Victor Pinchuk took an empty seat alongside us, also pulling up a chair for his friend, who was later introduced—almost apologetically—as “Oh, just the leader of the country’s opposition party.” Stilted swallows of champagne all around.

Pinchuk always scrounges up the best in music—global icon Elton John, Ukrainian pop staples—so I was reluctant to leave before the promised concert, but I had to get back to SANAHUNT, where the opening for a Visionaire retrospective was already underway. Designer Rafael de Cárdenas had created a series of multiplatform kiosks to display the selected issues, which were stationed strategically throughout the building’s four floors. At the very top, artist Cyprien Gaillard shared the DJ booth with Donoghue and Burlon, while a pile of punishing-looking stilettos were stashed by a couch. Out on the terrace, I found the culprits: a troupe of oligarchs’ girlfriends, looking no less glamorous for their bare feet.

We briefly dropped by XLIB (Kiev’s “bare-bones” alternative club that is supposed to be void of glamour; we found it to be void of patrons as well), perking up after a text from 032c’s Victoria Camblin inviting us to join some of the SANAHUNT crew at a Boy George afterparty. We assumed it must be some sort of theme night at a struggling club, but as eastern European kitsch still beat an empty bar, we piled into taxis to Club Arena, in the space behind PinchukArtCentre.

Left: Curator Carson Chan. Right: Fondation Louis Vuitton director Suzanne Pagé. (Photos: Kate Sutton)

We were greeted not by a cheesy tribute but rather by a full-fledged open-air party in the center of a circular shopping center that once played host to Damien Hirst’s shark tanks. Boy George himself, ducking under his oversize spring-green top hat, kept to the back of the stage, DJ-ing and singing, while rotating pairs of go-go dancers twirled their long, lean, scantily clad bodies in front, batting false eyelashes and flashing fierce smiles. By the time Boy George dropped “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” our crew was reconsidering those rumors about the Rapture.

Saturday was a blur of events, though I was most excited for Розвага Room, the pointedly polyglot collaboration between Parisian wunderkind Item Idem (aka Cyril Duval) and Moscow designer Gosha Rubchinskiy. Taking over a suite in the iconic Ukraine Hotel (where “room service,” such as it is, is available only from the lobby strip club), the pair invited lovely local boys—cast from the streets of Kiev—to wallow in a hotel bed while generating a surreal, live-action zine. The rest of the suite was decked out with Ukrainian memorabilia the artists had collected from marketplaces and souvenir stores. “At first I wanted to do something with the flag because, you know, it’s just so cute, right?” Duval explained. “But then I started looking around and I realized the whole city is color-coded in blue and yellow. I mean, even the cleaning supplies!”

That night, sipping Stellas atop the Hyatt with Camblin, Chan, Duval, and Emma Reeves, we observed some glowing red lights slowly ascending from various parts of the city. “Is that . . . ?” Chan began. But if it was the Rapture, no one was complaining. We were pretty happy to stay right where we were.

Left: Boy George with dancer. Right: Artists Kon Trubkovich and Cyril Duval. (Photos: Kate Sutton)

Left: The crowd at SANAHUNT. (Photo: Nikolai Zverkov/SANAHUNT) Right: Performance at the Hotel Ukraine. (Photo: Kate Sutton)

Left: Party promoter Marcelo Burlon. Right: Photographer and designer Gosha Rubchinskiy.