Yuri Andrukhovych. The 13th
Vsevolod Rechytskyi. Constitutionalism a la Kiev
Vakhtang Kebuladze. The Phenomenology of Postcolonial Criticism
Pavlo Shved. Forward to the Past
Timothy D. Snyder. Nazism’s Dialectic of Death: How Hitler Tried to Form an Empire by Killing Rather than Converting
Ksenia Dmytrenko. An Arsenal for an Art City
Mykola Skyba. The Art-Arsenal Between Intrigue and Scam
Tamara Zlobina and Anastasia Riabchuk. Tourists Don’t Go There
Alexander Kratochvil. Pop-Literature: The Generation of the 1990s
Ostap Slyvynskyi. Ready-made Words for Ready-made Objects
Yaryna Tsymbal. Sex and Context
Olha Kuprian. Tracking the Poetic Word
Olena O’Lear. Brandan’s Last Port
Maryana Musij. Lviv’s Rainman
Oleksandr Naiden. The Substance Tsi, Silvashi’s Painting and a Law on Bats
Letter to the editors: Askold Melnychuk
The May-June, 2009 issue of Krytyka opens with an essay by Yuri Andrukhovych entitled “The 13th” which draws on his talk, “The Lessons of Freedom,” delivered at the annual commemoration of Oleksandr Kryvenko at the Ukrainian Catholic University of Lviv on May 13 of this year. Noting that this date also coincides with the death by suicide of Mykola Khvyliovyi in 1933, Andrukhovych reconsiders the phenomenon of freedom and its paradoxes in the 20th century, particularly in Ukraine.
In his “Constitutionalism a la Kiev” Vsevolod Rechytskyi of the Kharkiv Human Rights group analyses the project for a new Ukrainian Constitution proposed by President Yushchenko, as well as the political and philosophical premises that underlie it. He focuses on its internal inconsistency, lack of correspondence with European standards of the rule of law, and on its underlying illiberalism–often concealed by democratic window dressing. At the same time the author argues that there still exists an opportunity–and a pressing need–to reform the present Constitution.
In his “The Phenomenology of Postcolonial Criticism” Vakhtang Kebuladze reviews Ewa M. Thompson’s Imperial Knowledge: Russian Literature and Colonialism which was recently published in Ukrainian translation and focuses both on the larger, imperial, and the specifically Ukrainian aspects of this problem.
Pavlo Shved in his “Forward to the Past” examines the myth of “The Great Patriotic War” in today’s mass culture in Russia as reflected in the film “We’re From the Future.” Drawing on Lacanian analysis, he looks at the ways this myth is legitimized for the young auditorium and how this audience, particularly through the logic of “an irredeemable debt,” is drawn into the ruling ideology.
In “Nazism’s Dialectic of Death: How Hitler Tried to Form an Empire by Killing Rather than Converting,” which first appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, Timothy D. Snyder of Yale University reviews Mark Mazower’s Hitler’s Empire. Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe and examines the irreconcilable differences between Nazi empire-building and the attempt to exterminate whole populations.
The following two texts focus on a crucial moment in Ukraine’s post-orange cultural policy, i.e., the grandiose, mega-priced, but seemingly unattainable mega-museum: the so-called Art-Arsenal. In her “An Arsenal for an Art City” Ksenia Dmytrenko reviews the various projects for this “museum of the future” that were recently exhibited at Kyiv’s “Ukrainian House” (Ukrainskyj Dim) and focuses above all on its eclecticism, epitomized by a clash between traditionalist and state-building aspects that characterize the “presidential” approach on the one hand and the mass culture and postmodern or “oligarchic” approaches on the other. For all their differences, both are far from any ideal of professional and technical competence, and both (echoing the way the Stalinist competition for reconstructing Sophia square was conducted in the 1930s) show a total disregard for civic and urban values. In his “The Art-Arsenal Between Intrigue and Scam,” Mykola Skyba, formerly a Director of Planning for the Art-Arsenal, and thus drawing on personal experience, recounts the administrative, ideological and esthetic battles that have led to the present impasse in the project. For all these flaws, however, he still sees potential in the project, especially as reflected in the on-going avant-garde “GogolFest” that has been held there in the course of the last several years.
A critique of urban planning not only in Ukraine, but more generally in East-Central Europe, drawing particularly on examples from Lvivand its suburb of Zykhiv and of Cracow with its proletarian sister city of Nowa Huta, is provided by Tamara Zlobina and Anastasia Riabchuk in their essay “Tourists Don’t Go There.” The central issue the authors see here are the negative impacts of hierarchical social planning with the creation of “historical” and “unhistorical” areas and discriminatory cultural policy–which in turn leads to alienation and social tensions.
In his essay “Pop-Literature: The Generation of the 1990s,” Alexander Kratochvil provides an overview of East and East-Central Europeanliterature for a mass youth audience by focusing on the writings of such writers born in the 1970s and 1980s as the Ukrainians Irena Karpa, Svitlana Pyrkalo and Lubko Deresh, the Russians Irina Denezhkina, and Ilja Stogoff, the Czechs Jaroslav Rudiš and Jáchym Topol, and the Polish writer Dorota Masłowska. By analyzing their esthetic and social contexts, their poetics and pragmatics and not leastof all marketing strategies he also seeks to find the common ground for this vibrant form of postmodernism.
In his article “Ready-made Words for Ready-made Objects” Ostap Slyvynskyi also focuses on the Ukrainian pop-literature for the youth market as a form of ready-made literature and seeks its sources in the writings of Jean Genet, Jack Kerouac, Marek Hłasko and Charles Bukowski.
In “Sex and Context” Yaryna Tsymbal reviews two anthologies of Ukrainian erotic literature, one dealing with the 1920-1930s and the other the 1990-2000s and compares their different strategies and what they say about the state of literary criticism in Ukraine today.
In “Tracking the Poetic Word” Olha Kuprian reviews several books of poetry published in 2008: by the Lviv poets Marianna Kianovska, Mar'ana Savka and Ostap Slyvysnskyi, the Kyiv poets Ivan Andrusiak and Dmytro Lazutkin, as well as the Transcarpathian poet Petro Midianka.
The issue concludes with two remembrances, one by Olena O’Lear, “Brandan’s Last Port,” on the Kyiv poet and translator Viktor Koptilov (1930-2009), and one by Maryana Musij, “Lviv’s Rainman” on the Lviv graphic artist and historian Pavlo Grankin (1960-2007), as well as Oleksandr Naiden’s essay “The Substance Tsi, Silvashi’s Painting and a Law on Bats” on the Ukrainian abstractionist Tiberius Silvashi and finally a letter to the editors by Askold Melnychuk.