A group exhibition at Jam Factory designed by Maria Lanko and Lizaveta Herman is scheduled for 2023. The preparation of the exhibition begins with a study of selected practices of Ukrainian post-war art with references to the world context and with a focus on such topics as preserving and reproducing the memory of the art of the past as an artistic method; political dimension of the so-called decorative and applied arts and a critical look at the shaky hierarchy of “high” and “low” arts; as well as the theme of unrealized and unfinished projects as a space for opportunities.
The prologue and core of the exhibition story is the history of life and creative practice of Ukrainian artist Alina Mykolayivna Lamakh.
Alina Lamakh (1925-2020) is known primarily as the wife of the artist Valerii Lamakh, a famous muralist a key figure of the Sixties generation. As well as the author of the “Book of schemes” — opus magnum of unofficial Ukrainian art, dedicated to the author’s philosophical system of analyzing the World Culture. During his lifetime, Lamach left unpublished manuscripts of the work. For more than 30 years after his death in 1981, Alina Mykolayivna was engaged in ordering, decoding, reprinting, editing and preparing for publication the texts of the “Book of schemes”. Subsequently, art critic Liudmyla Lysenko joined the work on the publication. Only in recent years has the electronic version been published, and later a small edition of this long-standing, now collective work has been published. In 2017
A cursory glance at the course of Alina Lamakh’s extremely private, airtight life leads to an instant (but not exhaustive) assumption that the preservation of her husband’s archive was her main mission. However, the basis of such scrupulous devotion seems much more complicated than arranging her husband’s affairs if you look at it from a distance of the present. Let’s assume that Alina Lamakh understood the greatness and uniqueness of the developments of the “Book of schemes” outside the actual figure of the author understood the scale of irreversible loss for the (World) Culture in case of its non-preservation. Let us also assume that Alina Lamakh realized that she was almost the only one who was able to continue this work, pick up and complete what was started by the author close to her. And she thought so with good reason.
However, Alina Lamakh also had her own artistic practice. She worked with the tapestry: a complex, painstaking, elegant technique. She studied at the Voroshilovgrad State Art School. After the Second World War, she entered the Kyiv Art Institute in the department of painting, but due to bureaucratic obstacles typical of her time, she never started studying in the desired specialty. But she entered (and graduated in 1954) the Lviv Institute of applied and decorative arts. For almost 30 years, she worked as an artist of decorative fabrics at the Darnytskyi silk factory. She had little time left to work in her own studio. In addition, Alina Lamakh traveled, participated in plein-airs, left many landscapes and sketches in various graphic techniques and paintings. She had only two chamber solo exhibitions. There are many sketches and preparatory drawings for unrealized tapestries with floral ornaments left in Alina Lamakh’s studio. Live contact with these works significantly complicates the first superficial impression of their decorative nature. And the fact that work on them in the 1980s and 1990s continued in parallel with the editing and editing of the “Book of Schemes” opens up a completely different perspective on her work.
The (unspoken) story of Alina Lamakh gives an impetus to reflections about the key questions for the future exhibition: how urgent (and in which way) is it to preserve the memory of an artist who (allegedly) limited his or her own creative subjectivity in favor of another, supposedly more important, artist? Can we talk about the practice of preserving the memory of non-self-made art as an independent art project? Can we consider dedication to the idea of continuing another artist’s interrupted practice as an alternative to creating something new – and it is this logic that reigns in the international contemporary art industry with its thirst for “new orders and new production”. In this light, the life and professional path of Alina Lamakh, focused on the idea of non-loss and realization of what threatens imperfection and oblivion, seems no less grandiose and meaningful than the “Book of Schemes” itself. And the artist’s own unrealized ideas and chamber works are silent witnesses to the greatness of this extremely ascetic path. Finally, the question of rethinking the boundaries of authorship in the art cannot be overlooked: isn’t the one who has preserved and completed no less important than the one who started it?