Kyiv Academy of Fine Arts student faces heavy sentence for provocative exhibition – KyivPost
When Spartak Khachanov, a student of the Kyiv National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture, was asked to create a composition on any subject, he decided to realize a long-held idea.
He created an exhibit called “Penis Parade”, which featured a number of penis-shaped soldiers and military vehicles, meant to symbolize the nonsense of arms races.
But the student’s exposure sparked a scandal inside the academy, leading to Khachanov’s expulsion and raising discussions about censorship at the institution.
The conflict has now spread beyond the walls of the academy, with the far-right organization C14 protesting against Khachanov, accusing him of being unpatriotic. Meanwhile, artists and activists plan to gather for a rally in support of Khachanov on January 25.
“I don’t like parades because they celebrate wars,” Khachanov told the Kyiv Post. “These are the omens of wars,” he added.
Khachanov, 34, is an artist of Armenian descent, whose family moved to Donetsk Oblast in eastern Ukraine when he was six years old. He has been studying at the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in Kyiv since 2015.
After completing his assignment, Khachanov set up the exhibit in the corridors of the academy in the early morning of December 19. In the form of parade columns, the exhibition featured numerous white sculptures about 20 centimeters high, which resembled soldiers and military vehicles, all made in the shape of penises.
Khachanov says his exhibit symbolizes the way countries try to show their superiority through parades: those with bigger armies feel more influential, just like some men do when they have bigger genitals than men. others.
The artist also thinks that the money spent on the army could be put to better use elsewhere.
“Money spent on weapons should be better spent on something good,” Khachanov said.
However, the academy did not appreciate the student’s work.
Shortly after the exhibit was installed, Khachanov says one of the academy’s professors, Volodymyr Kharchenko, destroyed some of his sculptures.
“It shouldn’t be like this. This is vandalism,” Khachanov said.
In a video posted on YouTube, Kharchenko threatens Khachanov that he could be “buried” if he does not take his sculptures away. The professor aggressively says the exhibit insults “our country”, while Khachanov claims it has nothing to do with Ukraine.
The Kyiv Post could not reach Kharchenko for comment.
Andrii Chebykin, the rector of the academy, said the professor did not in fact break any of the sculptures, but Khachanov disputes this.
Nonetheless, the rector said Kharchenko was disciplined for his behavior, and the professor said he had a negative reaction to the exhibit and found it insulting because he was a veteran.
At a meeting on January 23, the academy board decided to expel Khachanov.
Khachanov that he was not told about the meeting and found out about it accidentally. When he arrived he didn’t have a chance to speak for himself, he said.
“I said it was like the Soviet Union and they told me it was actually the Soviet Union.”
The rector says the academy found the exhibit “anti-morale” and the mission was considered unfinished by Khachanov.
“It’s a pathological perversion,” Chebykin told the Kyiv Post.
The rector says he has not yet signed Khachanov’s deportation papers, but that decision has already been made.
When Khachanov left the academy board meeting, he was approached by unidentified people, who later said they were representatives of the far-right nationalist group Sich C-14.
Some C14 members have carried out attacks on Roma camps in Ukraine, as well as LGBT parades and LGBT-related events.
Khachanov says they wanted to arrest him and wait for others to join them, but the student ran away and stayed inside the academy. He asked some academy employees to call the police and remained inside the building until the C14 members left.
One of the organization’s coordinators, Serhii Bondar, said he learned about the meeting from “worried students”.
He says they came to the academy to make sure Khachanov was expelled.
In his comment to the Kyiv Post, Bondar repeatedly hurled insults at Khachanov for “not respecting the foundations of Ukraine”.
But Khachanov maintains he was not meant to mock Ukraine or the Ukrainian military, as there were no national symbols on his sculptures.
Famous Ukrainian artist Oleksandr Roitburd wrote a post in favor of Khachanov on Facebook, assuming that the C-14 influenced the academy’s decision to expel the student.
“The C14 expelled Spartak Khachanov from the academy of fine arts,” reads Roitburd’s post, published on January 24.
The artist also sarcastically suggested that Chebykin should disband the academy’s selection committee and let C14 decide who should be accepted to study art.
In support of Khachanov, students at the academy wrote several Facebook posts protesting what they said was censorship inside the academy.
Some students, artists and activists gather for an action called “Spartak Khachanov is our artist” on January 25 in front of the academy.
And although Khachanov’s exhibition was partially destroyed, it will still have another chance to be seen.
Khlebsavod art space has announced that “Penis Parade” will be exhibited from February 15 to 23 in Kyiv.