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Venice Biennale: Against all odds, a Ukrainian artist and his curators bring ‘Fountain of Exhaustion’ to Venice

On the evening of February 24, just hours after Russia launched its full-blown attack on Ukraine, art curator Maria Lanko got into her car and left her home in Kyiv. Unsure of her exact plan, and with a potentially dangerous journey ahead, she packed only a few personal items into her trunk along with 78 bronze funnels belonging to one of the country’s most important living artists, Pavlo Makov. Her mission was to drive them out of the country to safety.

Last summer, 63-year-old Makov and his team of curators — including Lanko — had won a bid to represent Ukraine at the Venice Biennale, a prestigious international event known as the “Olympics” of the art world. The funnels were crucial parts of their proposed entry, a water fountain sculpture called the “Fountain of Exhaustion.”

The artwork was first conceived in Kharkiv, a city in northeast Ukraine, where Makov has lived and worked…

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