Kuyalnik Estuary, Odesa
In our search for new forms and meanings, we have explored many locations. Like salt traders of the old times, we headed south from Podillya to Odesa and finally found the “salt” we yearned for. Тhe Kuialnyk Estuary located between the city and saline wastelands, medicinal mud baths and mineral waters. It was hard to comprehend this neighborhood a magnificent two-hundred-year-old mud bath resort alongside of a little ancient pink colored church, eclectic architectural constructions of the locals, giant half-empty buildings of the formerly popular Soviet resort “Kuialnyk”, a thousand-seat concert hall in which nothing occurred, and stretching far there lay many kilometres of an uninhabited saline shore where children played football, ladies walked with dogs along the estuary and… a kite that was flying in the sky.
The Kuialnyk Estuary, or rather — the territory of the resort “Kuialnyk” to be accurate, is located at the intersection of the verticals of steep green slopes notched by sandy-clay cliffs and the horizontal of the coastal strip. It’s 100-200 grams of salt per liter of water in the estuary, black healing mud hiding beneath a seemingly white sandy beach, steppe grasses and exemplars of Soviet architecture of the 1980s, all within 15 km of the Odesa train station. Eclecticism that, just like salt, permeates everything is the dominant of the space just outlined. In being so, it radically differs from previous festival locations.
Looking into the history of the estuary, a few waves of “conquering” people’s attention to the natural environment can be traced, and each of these “colonization” attempts have left material remnants. Creation and destruction are in a precarious balance here. Getting covered with a cobweb of cracks, weathering, rusting, buildings and mechanisms gradually cease to appear as implanted alien bodies in the landscape. Ephemerality and chimerism flow in the air just as the heat and the smell of saltwater. It is a space of transformation where things bear little resemblance to the original design. It is enough to throw a tiny pebble to let the process of aesthetic crystallization commence. Due to such state, the toolbox of cultural “Reconquista” greatly expands. At Kuialnyk, one can indulge into more compared to the emphasized natural purism of the previous years. Never before has the festival had such a horizon line.
Performances, art objects, and music from fifteen countries: Ukraine, Poland, Russia, Belarus, The Czech Republic, Germany, Mongolia, Austria, Italy, to name a few. The art of open space, in which different times and images intersect. Experiment and synthesis through unique combinations of instruments, ideas, methods, textures and materials. For instance, combinations of live instruments and authentic vocals with electronics, or live instruments and individual attitudes to extracting sounds from them, or creating instruments that sound with the help of waves and wind, or building giant resting places out of a variety of colorful umbrellas, or weaving with linen ropes and magnetic tapes, or walking along the salty shore which immediately results in objects of tracks and shades.
We were creating our own sound space, in which the ancient and the contemporary merged. From music for listening the festival gradually drifted toward music for dancing. From the ambient music by Port Mone through experiments and stylistic mixes by Kapela Kvety, Gurzuf, Atlantida, through ancient tunes alloyed with dub, trip hop and house the way it’s done by DakhaBrakha, Piss & Laugh, Oira, and Badian Sauna System and to the energetic music of Fatima Spar, Gattamolesta, Di Grine Kuzine, Malanka Orchestra and Perkalaba. The general scenario of the festival was deliberately written only as a sketch. Every day, new objects in space, video projections and audio-visual performances animated different corners of the ArtPole space. We invited everyone to try themselves as actors, artists, directors, i.e. as authors. However, the opportunity to remain a spectator also existed.
Thank you all. These seven days of creating our own world were not easy in the atmospheric sense. We gathered in the lowest point of Ukraine (5 m below sea level) on the banks of the Kuialnyk Estuary which has been exploited by humans for centuries. At first, they mined salt. Later on, thelocal mud baths became popular. Now Kuialnyk is drying up due to inadequate human activity. Sand quarries have been developed on the approaches to the estuary and they block the influx from the river. The rains you have endured are extremely rare and beneficial to the estuary.
Certainly, many people were disappointed about the weather. But rains have helped us focus on joint projects. The festival differed from the previous ones by being particularly synergetic and developed in the format of a true creative field laboratory.