This year, Ukraine presented its prosperous literature, illustration and book culture with the motto “Persistence to Be”. Ukraine is the first and only guest country since the establishment of the Vilnius book fair in 2000.
– Lithuanian Culture Institute
On February 23-26, 2023, the International Book Arsenal Festival presented its special program of events at the Vilnius Book Fair, co-curated by the Lithuanian Culture Institute. A series of events reflected the Book Arsenal’s conventional approach to programming, i.e. multidisciplinary events, searching for relevant and topical content, working with various formats, and targeting different audiences.
The Vilnius Book Fair supported Ukraine in every possible way; for instance, with the official blue and yellow symbols and merchandise of the fair, fundraising for the destroyed Chernihiv Mykhailo Kotsiubynskyi City Library, and the making of camouflage nets which was joined by the President of the Republic of Lithuania Gitanas Nauseda and the First Lady Diana Nausėdienė.
We are very thankful to the great people of Lithuania who have been among the first ones to assist us fully and to promote the Ukrainian agenda globally.
During the fair, the Book Arsenal presented a discussion on the professional solidarity of Ukrainian and Lithuanian authors and volunteers; a public talk about creative practices, as well as creative tools of resistance that our creative communities use; poetry readings by Ukrainian and Lithuanian poets, and book presentations.
In cooperation with the Dovzhenko Centre, a screening of Oleksandr Dovzhenko’s film Earth was held, following the discussion on how this film has changed cinema. STRICHKA film-performance told the Lithuanian audience the stories of people who were forced to leave their cities, fleeing the war.
The events for the youngest visitors, as a part of the kid’s program of the fair, included theatrical readings and creative workshops, also inviting the children of refugees from Ukraine who have found shelter and are now living in Lithuania.
During four days of the fair, two exhibitions ran: Illustrated Ukraine by Pictoric Illustrators Club, and Agrafka picturebook makers by art studio Agrafka, and the curators gave guided tours of these exhibitions for the visitors.
Invited by the Book Arsenal, the following Ukrainian guests took part in the special program of events: children’s writer and poet Kateryna Mikhalitsyna, writer Andriy Lyubka, poet Halyna Kruk, artist Eugene Arlov, poet and performer Haska Shyyan, cinema expert Alona Penzii, coordinator of the International Book Arsenal Festival Yuliia Kozlovets, illustrators from Pictoric club (Olena Staranchuk and Oleg Gryshchenko) and art studio Agrafka (Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv).
The Book Arsenal also presented the exhibition of the winning books of the Best Book Design Contest 2022.
The winners of the Best Baltic Book Design contest (an annual contest for the best book design among Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia) were also announced at the International Vilnius Book Fair. Ukraine became the guest of honour in 2023, and Oleg Gryshchenko, the member of the jury of the Book Arsenal’s Best Book Design Contest 2022, took part in judging. From Ukraine, The Barrier-Free Handbook by ist publishing was the winner. In January, The Barrier-Free Handbook became one of the two winners in the Utility Book nomination in the Book Arsenal’s Best Book Design Contest 2022.
Within the Vilnius Book Fair, the Media Forum also took place, organized by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania. Book Arsenal assisted in Oleksandra Matviichuk’s live online participation in the panel discussion “The role of civil society”. Simultaneously to the fair events, there also were creative meetings and masterclasses by Ukrainian illustrators for the students of the Vilnius Academy of Arts.
Ukrainian national stand, organized by the Ukrainian Book Institute, exhibited a selection of up-to-date books by Ukrainian publishers, and was the central meeting place for the audience of the fair to meet Ukrainian books, publishers, and authors.
International Book Arsenal Festival (IBAF) is an annual project of the Mystetskyi Arsenal (Kyiv) since 2011. It’s the biggest intellectual event in Ukraine, where the book, literary, and artistic scenes develop and interact with each other. IBAF’s international projects, being organized and presented at the main literary festivals and book fairs abroad, integrate the Ukrainian book, literary, and art community with the international one and promote better understanding and visibility of Ukraine in the world.
The Lithuanian Culture Institute is a budgetary institution established by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, which is consistently strengthening the role of Lithuanian culture in the world. The Institute purposefully presents Lithuanian culture and professional art abroad and enhances the opportunities on the international scene for cultural professionals and artists, as well as for specialists and organisations working in these fields.
International Vilnius Book Fair is the biggest book fair in the Baltic countries, which has been running since 2000, and every year it attracts more than 65,000 visitors. Its extremely rich programme (more than 600 events in four days), is the best place for authors and readers to meet.
In 2023 the 23rd book fair took place on the 23rd to 26st of February. The theme of the Book Fair was 700 Lines for Freedom, which combines two important topics – 700 years of Vilnius city anniversary and the theme of freedom, the fragility of which Europe and the whole world are experiencing now.
Organizers of the fair: Lithuanian Publishers Association, Lithuanian Culture Institute, Litexpo — Lithuanian Exhibition and Congress Centre.