Life on the Edge: Documenting Ukraine and the Book Arsenal

, 21.05.2024
A poster of this year's edition of the Book Arsenal

The 12th International Book Arsenal will take place in Kyiv, from 30 May to 2 June 2024. This year’s focus theme, Life on the Edge, is implemented jointly by Mystetskyi Arsenal and the Documenting Ukraine program. 

Curated by Volodymyr Yermolenko and Tetyana Ogarkova, Life on the Edge is meant to challenge our perception of the frontline. This year’s program focuses on people choosing to stay or to come back to this metaphorical edge: soldiers, volunteers and paramedics, residents of cities and villages occupied, flooded, shelled. What unites us all – in Ukraine and abroad, in Lviv and Kharkiv, in Kyiv and Kherson, in frontline and in the rear – is the frontline within us, something dear to the heart that lies beyond it, which makes us either take up arms or support those who do. 

As Yermolenko and Ogarkova reflect in their curatorial statement: “To understand Ukraine, one should be at the front, visit the front, help the front. To understand Europe, you have to understand Ukraine. This is the edge which is the center. Even if this is the center that bleeds”. 

The Life on the Edge program brings together renowned Ukrainian and international writers, poets, journalists, and public intellectuals to discuss both the philosophical implications of the edge and its real-life manifestations. This year's edition of the focus theme is not only curated by Documenting Ukraine grantees, but also features IWM fellows and Documenting Ukraine grantee as speakers. The program reads as follows: 

30 May, Thursday, 18:00–19:30, Main stage. 
The Edge Within Us. Participants: Pavlo Kazarin, Oleksandr Mykhed, Oleksandra Matviichuk, Larysa Denysenko, Olena Stiazhkina, Oleksandr Komarov. Moderated by Tetyana Ogarkova.

31 May, Friday, 11:30–12:30, Main stage. 
The Art of Resistance Beyond the Edge. Participants: a member of the Mavka women's resistance movement, David Patrikarakos, Noel Calhoun, Bogdan Logvynenko, Li Biletska. Moderated by Olha Mukha.

31 May, Friday, 13:30–15:00, Main stage
A Book in a Shelter, a Book as a Shelter. Participants: Marina Chizhova, Aelita Gorbunova, Anton Novikov, Kateryna Kalytko, Svitlana Povalyaeva, Kateryna Mihalitsyna. Moderated by Myroslava Barchuk.

31 May, Friday, 18:00–19:30, Main stage
Being a Military Man / Woman Today. Participants: Dmytro Lazutkin, Arthur Dron, Yara Chornohuz, Lesya Ganzha, Pavlo Kazarin. Moderated by Alla Koshliak.

1 June, Saturday, 12:30–13:30, Main stage
Poetry: A Conversation between Languages. France — Ukraine. Participants: Yara Chornohuz, Arthur Dron, Ella Yevtushenko, Martin Rueff, Anne and Laurent Champs-Massart. Moderated by Tetyana Ogarkova.

1 June, Saturday, 13:30–15:00, Main stage. 
Civilians. Life on the Edge. Kherson – Kharkiv – Izium – Chernihiv. Participants: Vira Kuryko, Olha Honcharova, Ivanna Skyba-Yakubova, Halyna Ivanova, Olha Kyrylenko. Moderated by Volodymyr Yermolenko.

1 June, Saturday, 18:00–19:30, Main stage. 
Frontier or Center? Ukraine's Role in the World. Participants: Rory Finnin, Bruno Maçães, Botakoz Kassymbekova, David Patrikarakos, Raji Abdul Salam. Moderated by Volodymyr Yermolenko.

2 June, Sunday, 13:00–14:00, Main stage. 
Kant and the Limits of the Mind. Participants: Anatolii Loi, Anatoliy Yermolenko, Taras Lyuty. Moderated by Vakhtang Kebuladze.

2 June, Sunday, 17:30–19:00, Main stage. 
The End of Empires. Participants: Thierry Piel, Nicolas Tenzer, Hugues Mingarelli, Volodymyr Yermolenko. Moderated by Tetyana Ogarkova.

The International Book Arsenal Festival, an annual project of the Mystetskyi Arsenal, is an intellectual event in Ukraine where the publishing, literary and artistic scenes develop and interact with each other, and important issues of human existence, as well as society and culture, are raised.

Cancelled in 2022 due to the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the festival returned in 2023 with the focus theme When Everything Matters, curated by Nataliya Gumenyuk.