Curated by Serhiy Zhadan
We are used to talking about literature as an area that is constantly narrowing, tending to be marginalized, and losing its adepts. Mankind reads books less and less, books occur in narrower circles of people, and literature itself appears more conditionally in our lives. The future of writing increases skepticism, especially of those who are used to perceiving skepticism as a norm.
Instead, we are convinced that literature is far too early to be buried and that poetry and prose continue to be in demand and influence our perceptions of the world. Moreover, they are the ones that keep shaping these ideas. In particular, our optimism is based on the ability of literature to adapt to new realities, to adapt to changes in the cultural and information fields, to mimic together with mankind that is stubbornly moving forward in search of happiness. The literary glass remains half-full, quenching thirst and offering solace. One only needs to be able to hear these new, unusual voices that speak about what literature has been talking about for so many years: our dependence on each other and our inability to get along with each other.
In the curatorial program Out Loud. About Yourself, we are going to show how literature tries to find itself in today’s dispersed air: through music, performance, and provocation. The way in which the ghosts of literature appear where they are not expected, the way in which poetry and prose function in adjacent territories, and in which literary voices are outlined through music or theater. The way in which different genres coexist, balancing between what is written about yourself and what is said out loud.
During the four days of this year’s Book Arsenal, we are going to offer readers (that is, listeners) open conversations with people who can mix and match. The audience will have the opportunity to see (that is, hear) writers and musicians who have found for themselves this cozy gray inter-genre zone, being there in a state of constant transit. We will offer our audience public interviews with concert performance elements, where guests will be unexpected, yet desirable.
Let’s take the band Hammerman Destroys Viruses, which is the virus itself, spreading provocative narratives and causing a possibly inappropriate response. Or the Belarusian rock star Lyavon Volsky, who takes poetry into a broader context, making his own texts and the texts of the classic authors of the Belarusian literature a part of the public sounds/voices and reflections. Or the shocking duo from Berlin — writer Volodymyr/Wladimir Kaminer and musician Yuriy Gurzhy — who, while remaining masters in their respective fields, are constantly trying to introduce themselves to new audiences by synthesizing genres and breaking patterns. Our program will end with a concert by the Kharkiv punk project Zhadan I Sobaky, with the participation of all invited participants
We are all between our skepticism and optimism. We dance on the line, between despair and confidence. We are thrown from despair to euphoria. The main thing seems to remain sincere and frank. That is, to be able to listen to others and talk about yourself. Preferably out loud.