The project < Focus Ukrainian Artists > is hosted on the HEK Blog and its mission is to promote and support the works of Ukrainian artists. It provides a platform for artists during the war in Ukraine, inviting them to share their testimonies and reflections on the current social and cultural repercussions, through the use of digital media. The difficulties in which many of these artists currently find themselves, whether because they have to leave the country, or are engaged on humanitarian fronts, or because Ukrainian institutions cannot continue their activities, prompt support from cultural institutions. Through their work and by retaining their independent agency, artists contribute to a civic discourse through their artistic practices, and it is equally important that this reaches a wider audience. In line with HEK’s mission, works of art that make creative use of digital media are selected. Artists receive a loan fee for the presentation of their works. Participating artists are also invited to share their statements on the blog if they wish.
In my thoughts, I’m coming back to my hometown Kyiv, to the place where distances become extended and time is on hold. The time becomes a category from the past. It is liquid, the categories of hours and days aren’t relevant. The sun shines through the smoke which remains after aerial bombing. The air seems broken, it doesn’t protect the thin skin of the buildings. I see images of destroyed buildings where the people «behind the walls» collect the leftovers of their belongings. At least you still have your body when your home was destroyed. The body is home, too. If the body gets injured and you stay alive, your perception changes – wounds and fragments of the bodies and amputated city parts leave their marks on the consistency of your very being.
In 2016, I’ve started to work on a video series based on my experience as an injured body and its transformation into a hybrid form. Gaze owner is a central part of a series that has evolved into an overarching installation Leaving the town’s body: a map. It is the space that combines various plots of mental and bodily adaptation of a human being: an experience of disorientation in a city in the video Ruin or a Template, a loss of one’s own boundaries in the following two videos Collective and Happiness 100%, sleep deprivation, and mental break-through, and long-awaited «exit» of the body into the imaginary — into an image in the work Gaze owner. An escape from the body is an escape from density. The complex of organs, tendons and muscles is separated from the outer density by a border – the skin. It is the extension of the inner density to the outer side, whilst being exposed and connected with the external world.
The exhibition showcasing this series took place in June 2018 in Kyiv, during the third edition of Architecture of Voice: City waters. The festival, founded and curated by Sasha Andrusyk (Ukho music agency) (1)(2), combines contemporary classical and experimental music with unexplored locations, thus creating connections of the city’s soundscape and landscape through audiovisual situations. The knowledge through perception, which visitors experience on these events, is something that rapidly transformed Kyiv’s art scene.
Like the most other participants and organisers, Sasha is in Kyiv with her family with no intentions to leave. Yevgenia Belorusets, the author of the texts for the videos Ruin or a Template and Collective remains in the city as well and writes her diary from the war (https://www.isolarii.com/kyiv).
After Russia’s full-scale invasion to the Ukraine on the 24th of February, these videos have altered their meaning. My personal experience of trauma, which indirectly lead to creating these works, now extends to the collective experience of loss, pain and recovery from it. We see destroyed buildings and thousands of deaths in Kyiv, Bucha, Irpin, Chernihiv, Mariupol, and displaced people, who mostly plan to return as soon as possible as they can. They want to return to the wounded land and build their lifes again from scratch.
Text – Dariia Kuzmych, translated by Ann Cotten
Text for a video: Yevgenia Belorusets
Translation into German: Hendrik Jackson
Dariia Kuzmych (1991, Kyiv) — Ukrainian artist. Currently lives and works in Kyiv and Berlin. After finishing her bachelor at the Fine Art Academy in Kyiv, she completed the master program at the Berlin University of Arts. She is working in various techniques, such as drawing, animation, installations and text. A central point that connects these multimedia practices is that they are capturing times of transition in a society and how it impacts an individual. In her current projects, she is engaged with various aspects of time perception. She also participated in the residencies Kultur Kontakt Austria (2017), Museumsquartier Q21 Wien (2018) and Atelierhaus Salzamt Linz (2018).
(1) About the Ukho Music Agency https://www.nmz.de/online/statement-von-luigi-gaggero-gmd-kyiv-symphony-orchestra-zur-lage-von-kunst-und-mensch-im-krie