You are welcomed by the Centre of Cultural Development «Totem» from the city of Kherson, Ukraine. Since 1999 we have been working for social and cultural changes, for development of personality, community, society. Creative ideas and their skilful realization are two components of success of our public organization.
ON A FLOAT
2023. Kherson is liberated, but suffers from constant shelling. In the summer of 2023, the Russians blew up the Kakhovska HPP. The scale of catastrophe hard to imagine. In such conditions, it is not time to restore the work of galleries or cultural institutions in Kherson, but Kherson keeps afloat as well as its culture and art. We decided that it is possible and necessary to restore the presence of our culture in the city, because the city is alive and waiting for restoration. For the Kherson creative community it is not about the return of abstract "life", but about concrete ties of Kherson people with their city – ties not only material, but also cultural. It is about our people, familiar locations, shared memories and common projects. That is why we created street galleries in Kherson. We want to return art of Kherson to our city.
After February 24, 2022, children were born in the occupied part of the Kherson region. They were born in the new world. They will definitely be different. Their mothers could not evacuate at that time, and every birth story in the occupation is a story about the victory of life over death and destruction.
Kherson, Bilozerka, Chornobayivka, Nova Kakhovka... Right and Left banks of the Dnieper. Before and after the occupation, before and after the blowing up of the Kakhovska HPP.
We decided to collect these stories about the power of women and the power of life. About New Khersonians. We want the children who were born in the Kherson region during the war to be perceived not as victims, but as a symbol of the new Ukraine.
Kherson. 8 months of Russian occupation. 8 months of resistance – first visible, then silent. Many residents of Kherson were forced to leave their home, however the city continued to live with our, Ukrainian life. Since the first days of the occupation a well-known tour guide and craftswomen Inna Mykutska started writing a diary, which she called “Vyshyvanka chronicles”, as everyday she was making a Vyshyvanka of victory. Eight months, day after day, stitch after stitch. Vyshyvanka chronicles – is a diary with the illustrations by 41 artists from Kherson, which for us became the soul of Ukrainian cultural resistance.
About the human dimension of war.
About the phenomenon of getting used to the war and its consequences, when people outside Ukraine get tired of war-related content, and people in Ukraine are forced to get used to and adapt to the new terrible reality.
We conduct creative dialogue, standing on the border between free Ukraine and the occupied land, between an understandable statement and a nervous breakdown, between art and attempts to destroy it.
We connect artworks created inside (in occupied Kherson) and outside (in emigration). Emigration is not a privilege; it is a compulsion and insecurity. Occupation is not a sentence; it is a space of resistance to preserve ourselves and our creative individuality.
The project has been exhibited in several regional centers of Ukraine since August 2022
Destroying the historical fake
about so-called "Novorossiya"
The Northern Black Sea and Southern Ukraine still suffers from the echoes of the mythologized story about the civilizing role for these "wastelands" of the Russian empress Catherine II in the 18th century. Actually, the idea of "Novorossiya" is based on this myth. However, modern Ukrainian archaeology provides real evidence that a well-developed centre of civilization stood on these lands as early as the XIV-XV centuries.
DON'T TAKE ME OFF THE TREE
This song was born in 2018 as the leitmotif of the eponymous performance. The topic was multiculturalism of the South of Ukraine: we talked about our roots and gathered leaves from the tree of our history. In 2022 russian aggression brings a new meaning for this song.
The public gallery and museum of modernity at the same time. Things representing our time are collected here. Each exhibit was donated to this museum by ordinary people from Ukraine, Germany and Kyrgyzstan as part of the "Parcel from Abroad" project.
RED LINE PROJECT
The "Red Line" project is an artistic study of urban space, but not only that. It is not only about external rules and regulations. This is about conscious self-limitations. Remember the terms of the quarantine: we have to keep our distance, we voluntarily agree to restrictions for the sake of common safety.
Until February 24, 2022, we all lived and worked in Kherson. Now the creative community of Kherson is divided into those who remained in the occupied city and those who managed to evacuate. However, the Centre for Cultural Development "Totem" continues to work and unite people. We hold our cultural front. We are the cultural resistance of the Ukrainian South.
Zurich 2021: let’s talk about Polina Payko in comic language
The act of young artists` co-creation in dialogue with the artistic phenomenon of Polyna Raiko – unique naive artist from the Oleshky town of the Kherson Region. In Soviet times the old town was renamed to Tsyurupinsk (the youth said "Zurich"). As the result of our workshop with EU-based mentor Marlen Kraus (Berlin), comic magazine and exhibition were created. Unfortunately, most of the magazine's circulation remained in occupied Kherson, but we have an online version.
The art-residence is based on our strong wish to enhance dialog between local and international artists, to build new cultural connections between Ukraine and Europe. We want to bring new artistic vision for the common historical and culture heritage of Lithuania and Ukraine and to fill heritage with life of modern arts.
We keep in focus:
3 locations: Watching Tower, Tyagin fortress and archeological site, Kherson;
3 cultures: Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Crimean Tatar;
3 hashtags: #multiculturalism #heritage #nature;
3 points = 3 dots: ellipsis, unfinished sentence, possibility of continuation, an open option for the future.
“Body of artworks” is our bodies. During performances artists communicate using words or not. The main art product is photos/video but the process is important no less, because it gives us amazing filling of communication. Site-specific performances is the most sincere and honest way of communication with the space, time, people, with each other.
Totem Centre Theatre Lab
Was created in 2012 as an artistic group working at the combination of performing arts, journalist investigations and social sciences in such spheres as documentary theatre, oral history and public activities.
Specifics of our work is project approach. We do not conduct separately researches, we do not write just plays, we do not only stage theatrical performances, we are not engaged just in work with space and public. We realize projects which include all these parts – from search of a problem to its decision in the following chain: research-text-performance-presentation-discussion-advocating. Therefore, we have no repertoire. Therefore, we are a laboratory, but not theatre.
Terra futura festival
The Terra Futura Festival began in 2002 as an outdoor experimental venue. The first festival was held in the village of Chernyanka, Kakhovka district, Kherson region - in the place where domestic futurism was born, where the Burliuk brothers lived and worked together with their guests at the beginning of the 20th century, among whom were those whom we know today as stars of avant-garde art
Land-art and archaeology: new synergy through the boundaries
The innovative project based on synergy of land-art and archaeology. The first case of such synergy we created in 2021: we organized the first international art-residence in archeological site “Tyagin fortress” in Kherson region, which is connects to history of the Great Duchy of Lithuania, Ukrainian Cossacks, and Crimean Tatars. This experiment showed the great potential to enhance dialog of science and art – in Tyagin archeology became a real co-creator and co-author for art.
From the other side, open-air art is good alternative for galleries and museums. It is the most eco-friendly art; it shares ideas of sustainable development and harmonic coexisting human and nature. Finally, land-art has its specific “language” to tell not about the nature only; it involves great public attention and forms real interest to the history.
photo by the month
архів видатних подій
історія оранізації в подіях
Art-approach to dialog
Heroes is one of the most difficult and conflict topic in the society. Under changing circumstances the recognized at one time hero can become an antihero or go out into oblivion. Or other situation: the same character is perceived by different parts of the society as a hero and antihero simultaneously.
Centre of Cultural Development “TOTEM”
is a voluntarily, independent, non-profitable public organization in Ukraine. Founders and members are united by desire to assist social and cultural progress for strengthening of civil society in Ukraine and increasing of level of its culture.
“TOTEM” started to work in 1996 as an initiative group; officially the organization was incorporated in 1999 as Kherson Center of Youth Initiatives «TOTEM”.
Since 2017 we are the Centre of Cultural Development “TOTEM”.
The organization consists of over 150 members and brings over 400 volunteers annually to cultural and social activities