28,000 visitors and nearly 100 events — the 11th International Book Arsenal Festival came to an end at the Mystetskyi Arsenal
The 11th International Book Arsenal Festival finished on June 25, 2023. The soulful musical stand-up by Sasha Koltsova, the frontwoman of the Kryhitka music band, and a semi-acoustic performance by the band were the Festival’s closing events. Visitors to the 11th Book Arsenal experienced and participated in about 100 events: discussions, lectures, presentations, poetry readings, autograph sessions, concerts, performances, film screenings, and exhibition projects.
For us, holding Book Arsenal in 2023 is a symbol of resilience, but not only that. It is also an emotional and intellectual resource for our society: being together with like-minded people, exchanging observations and ideas, mourning and rejoicing collectively, and reading and reciting poems together. All this is extremely needed in times of trial. I am extremely glad that everything worked out. I believe we will all endure, and the next Book Arsenal will be even better
— Olesia Ostrovska-Liuta, Director General of the Mystetskyi Arsenal.
Last year, the Festival was not held due to the full-scale war of Russia in Ukraine. Under martial law, the 11th Book Arsenal underwent changes and lasted only three full days. The Festival’s scale was somewhat different as it took place only on the first floor of the Mystetskyi Arsenal and the Street Stage. The basic structure of the Book Arsenal remained unchanged. It consisted of the Festival’s Event Program and the book fair with corresponding thematic sections from Kyiv bookstores. The Fiction section was presented by the Book Lion bookstore, the Nonfiction section was presented by the Sens bookstore, the Children’s Books, as well as Comics and Graphic Prose sections were presented by Zakapelok bookstore, the Art book section was managed by the Dovzhenko Centre, and the section with Books about the Russia-Ukraine war was managed by Syaivo Knyhy municipal bookstore.
During the 11th Book Arsenal, seven curatorial and special programs were presented:
- The focus theme “When Everything Matters”, curated by Nataliya Gumenyuk
- The literary program “Transforming the Experience into Memory”, curated by Iryna Slavinska
- The Program for/about Kids and Teens, “When the War Is Not Only in Books”, curated by Yuliia Kozlovets
- The Professional Program of the Book Arsenal, curated by Oksana Karpiuk
- The special program “(non)public libraries” by the Literary Laboratory of the Mystetskyi Arsenal, curated by Dima Kazakov
- Dovzhenko Centre Special Program “Literary Movie Canon. Volume One”
- PEN Ukraine Special Program
Video — Anna Perepelytsia. Music— SI Process & Dennis Adu – Protea
Visitors to the Festival had the opportunity to see and look through books published from July 2022 to June 2023 at the Vitryna Novynok, a showcase of new titles (an annual special project by Chytomo and the Book Arsenal). You can also view the Vitryna Novynok digitally at the Chytomo website.
The visual program of the Festival included seven exhibition projects. In addition, visitors could visit the Forms of Presence exhibition in the right wing of the first floor of the Mystetskyi Arsenal and the (pro)movy exhibition curated by the Laboratory of Contemporary Art “Mala Gallery of Mystetskyi Arsenal”.
As usual, visitors had a chance to see the projects engaging illustrators, graphic designers, and font designers in the space and within the program of the Festival. In particular, there was an #ОБОЛОНЬЯ wall with promo posters of Ukrainian illustrators while the Illustrators’ Showcase was presented in the Museum Shop of the Mystetskyi Arsenal.
More than 200 guests participated in the XI Book Arsenal Event Program. The voices of Ukrainian and international guests could be heard from the Festival stages, including Pavlo Khazan, Ostap Slyvynsky, Vitaly Portnikov, Dmytro Kuleba, Irena Karpa, Oleksandra Koval, Olya Rusina, Ilona Zamotsna, Pavlo Vyshebaba, Oleksandra Matviichuk, Timothy Snyder, Gvantsa Jobava, Peter Pomerantsev, Wayne Jordash, Héctor Abad Faciolince, Ivan Krastev, Daiva Čepauskaitė, Peter Kraus vom Cleff, Radovan Auer, Rati Mujiri and other public and cultural figures, military, politicians, writers, poets, publishers, artists, designers, illustrators, journalists, philosophers, translators, human rights defenders, directors, musicians, entrepreneurs, et alii. On the first day of the 11th Book Arsenal, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and First Lady Olena Zelenska visited the Festival.
Seven events of this year’s Book Arsenal were prepared and held jointly with the Festival’s media partner — Radio Culture: three public interviews and four poetry readings. All public interviews were broadcast live on Radio Culture, and the recorded poetry will be heard in the coming days in the line of radio literary programs.
The MEGOGO media service exclusively broadcast the events of the first Festival day of the 11th Book Arsenal: the “Democracy and War” discussion, as well as the “Our Crimea: On the Book Pages of Books” discussion. Viewing 11th Book Arsenal events via MEGOGO was free even for non-registered users. You can watch the broadcast at the link. You can also watch these events recorded on the YouTube channel of the Mystetskyi Arsenal.
The Festival team made a video recording of some of the discussions, in particular, Timothy Snyder’s online lecture “Why Freedom Matters More Than Everything”. This event is already available for viewing on the YouTube channel of the Mystetskyi Arsenal. Other discussion video recordings, as well as text materials, will be published soon.
Eighty volunteers joined the activities of the 11th Book Arsenal, supported the Festival team, and made the visitors’ experience comfortable.
Organizer of the Book Arsenal International Festival: Mystetskyi Arsenal in cooperation with the Art Arsenal Community NGO. The project is funded by aid from the governments of Canada, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States through the Partnership Fund for a Resilient Ukraine programme. The organizers are thankful to the partners who joined the Festival in 2023 for their support.
The Book Arsenal is an international event organized by Mystetskyi Arsenal. The Festival has been taking place since 2011, and during this decade, it has become one of the most influential literary and artistic events in Eastern Europe. In 2019, it won the title “Best Literary Festival of the World”. The mission of the Book Arsenal International Festival is to create such interactions between people, communities, and institutions when the combination of aesthetic experience, and intellectual engagement in the context of the book enhances the ability of man and society.