Alexander Shevchenko - Project Manager,
Alexander Sushynskiy - Curator,
Anna Pashynska - Assistant

Mentor - Studio Weave / the United Kingdom
MetaLab is a project under umbrella of an ambitious sequence of actions that aim to revitalise a big gasmeter factory in the very centre of Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine - Promprylad. Entire project can be characterized by a bottom-up society approach, which unites different Ukrainian NGOs (Teple Misto, Garage Gang, CANactions, Insha Osvita, MitOst) around the idea of creating vibrant and productive social ecosystem, that is built on pillars of contemporary art, non-formal education, new economies and processes of city inclusion.

The reason or the idea that started the general process lies in the intersection of few factors with regards to the city of Ivano-Frankivsk. First of all there is a raise of civil society, that becomes stronger and whose voice turns to be more and more sound. However this movement passes through hard ways of institutionalization and becomes less sustainable with losing their capacity, while facing bureaucracy barriers. From the other hand more appealing conditions of work and life in Lviv, Kyiv or even abroad have led to outflow of the most talented young people, creating massive brain-drain and a shortage of qualified human resource at the market. Taking into consideration these two points, the general situation in Ivano-Frankivsk can be described as a very active society that has no sufficient wide dialogue, trust, and toolkit for introducing new types of solutions.

Our team has started the project work since a year and there are already tangible results that allow us moving from the research offline and to the premises of the factory. So far a general model and concept for the wider project has been formed after a number of strategic sessions and hackathons involving best intellectual resource of the country. Step-by-step we develop the concepts for the programming of each field (education, culture, economies, urbanistics) strengthening them where necessary with actions for capacity building of the team and local stakeholder groups.

A number of wider general and specific researches is also being run, however the financial sustainability for the research phase is to be reached in future. For 2017 the next step is to rent a plot of up to 1000 sq.m. for a longer time to simulate the effect of bigger project (general area of Promprylad is 30.000 sq.m) functioning and to start working with the local society. Within this framework we aim to create a multidisciplinary experimental laboratory, MetaLab, that would be the generator of further solutions in the intersection of art, urbanistics, and social dialogue. MetaLab is seen to be the trigger for new concepts and sollutions within the next year piloting project on the premises of Promprylad.

MetaLab is planned as a response to low and sometimes dramatical understanding of contemporary art practices and basic art as such by the locals in Ivano-Frankivsk. For example many protests appeared after new work of street artist from Poland - Zbiok, symbolically showing the transition of a soviet identity to a modern person. The core of those protests lies in the understanding of art in the public spaces by the local society. "Art should look appealing, not provocative", they say.
MetaLab project addresses the complex but concrete situation, where lack of progressive bottom-up city developing initiatives is counterbalanced by painful shortage of interest and understanding of art and public space. During a short period of time (9 months) we aim to analyze a specific number of world cases (e.g. Bauhaus school, Warhol practices, etc.) with subsequent translation of those to local context. At the same time creation of a community pool in the Lab, who will continue their practices later on is also considered a quantitative indicator for the project. Simple format of participation as lecture/workshop/concept development is to become that tool, which enables people from criticizing to making by own hands. Furthermore the project will get a further organizational and institutional support by the Promprylad team enabling the steady and sustainable development of the art and urbanistics in MetaLab.