NUT Odessa 2016

”The Ukrainian Puzzle” is a series of NUT seminars in Ukraine, focusing not only on the specific cities but also aiming at portraying the situation in a large country with a complicated history and geopolitical situation, connecting people and ideas across between the east, west, north and south (Kharkiv, Ternopil, Poltava, Odessa). Focusing on issues like citizen dialogue and participatory urban planning ”The Ukrainian Puzzle” promotes dialogue between organisations, activists, artists, politicians and citizens, and finds new connections between different cities of Ukraine.

At the end of September 2016 New Urban Topologies went to the south of Ukraine, to Odessa, to continue the investigations gathered under the concept “Ukrainian Puzzle”, in order to develop new topics and challenges and to sum up ideas for a possible future travelling exhibition. Odessa became a meeting place for both new and former NUT-participants from Kharkiv, Kiev, Poltava, Ternopil and Odessa, joined by friends and colleagues from Sweden, Bosnia, Moldova and Romania.

The new participants, who had applied to participate in the program with their own projects or issues, defined this year’s discussion topics. Among them Kiev architect and urbanist Roman Pomazan, from the project Urban Sustain Architecture  and UrbanLab who proposed an important and lively topic for discussion: education, specifically within architecture and urbanism. He described the main problems and challenges in this field, and presented steps that have been taken by him and his colleagues in the direction of creation a new program for urban education in Ukraine. Joe Plommer, originally from London, but since almost one year living and working in Kharkiv, raised the topic of engaging citizens through media. Joe is working closely with the initiative Kharkiv Observer . Through this English-language website citizens as well as foreigners who live in or visit the city are able to get information on cultural, educational, political, business and social events, but the site also presents opinions and discussions on current events, as one of the few alternative and independent media resources in the city.

Plans and discussions for a potential exhibition on the Ukrainian Puzzle run like a red thread through the Odessa-NUT, with valuable insights from participants in earlier NUT Ukraine-sessions. The organisations Changing Ternopil, City Lab, Poltava and Critical Thinking in Kharkiv will continue working with developing ideas and activities in their respective cities.

The working group sessions in Odessa were hosted by the ImpactHUB Odessa which has became a strong anchor in the city for young entrepreneurs, creative people and public forums.

In addition to the seminars and work sessions, public lectures were held at the Green Theatre, a young initiative in Odessa that converted an abandoned park in the city centre into an active public space for movie-screening, lectures and concerts. Senada Demirovic from ADA, Mostar (Bosnia-Hercegovina) gave a talk on how to create a cultural institution in the divided city of Mostar, and Vladimir Us from Oberliht, in Chisinau (Moldova) inspired the audience by talking about his experiences with socially engaged art in Moldova and how it can help to bring change to society.

The city of Odessa was opened to the participants by Dimitriy Shamatazhyi from the history and photography project Architecture of Odessa, during a walking excursion around one of the oldest streets of Odessa, Marazlievskaya street. The organization Architecture of Odessa works to preserve the historical heritage of Odessa through photography. During the excursion we discovered that Odessa is a harbour not only in real sense, but also in a metaphorical, since it is a city built by people from all over the world since the very beginning. Somehow it makes us understand that Ukraine is slowly regaining influence into the big picture of the international world, through its people who live and work inside and outside the country.

The Ukrainian partner-organisations and Färgfabriken are continuing to work on the ideas for the future of the project – NUT*UP!