On the Continuity of War

Films by Yarema MALASHCHUK and Roman HIMEY, Daniil REVKOVSKIY and Andriy RACHYNSKIY, Mykola RIDNYI | Artist talk with Mykola RIDNYI

Mykola Ridnyi: Regular Places, 2015/22. Film still.

Organized by Office Ukraine. Shelter for Ukrainian Artists – Innsbruck

A selection of three video works by Ukrainian artists, curated by former Büchsenhausen Fellow Mykola RIDNYI, presents different perspectives on war, the nature of the moving image, and the idea of ​​new art production in times of war. The screening will be followed by an artist talk.

Mykola Ridnyi: Regular Places (2015/22)
Daniil Revkovskiy and Andriy Rachynskiy: Sky. Invasion (2022)
Yarema Malashchuk and Roman Himey: The Wanderer (2022)

Mykola Ridnyi will be present on-site and available for a public conversation after the nearly 40-minute screening program.

Admission: free / donations will go to Office Ukraine

Office Ukraine. Shelter for Ukrainian Artists has been set up for Ukrainian artists and cultural workers in all disciplines fleeing war in Ukraine and seeking shelter in Austria. The platform coordinates a variety of civil society and institutional initiatives and connects institutions and individuals based in Austria and cultural workers from Ukraine.


Mykola Ridnyi writes:

Everyone understands their mission during the war in their own way. With the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, some people joined the army to defend the country, some became a part of the volunteer movement and began to help displaced people and victims, some simply tried to save their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. In what way can artists continue their professional activity and reflect on the surrounding extreme reality? A selection of three video works by Ukrainian artists presents different perspectives on wartime, the nature of the moving image, and the idea of ​​new art production in the outlined context. However, something unites these statements, namely the rejection of linear history and heroism inherent in traditional documentary film and the desire to capture every moment and get into the epicenter of events like in contemporary journalism.

My work Regular Places was made in 2015, shortly after Russia annexed Crimea and ignited the war in Donbas. The confrontation between supporters of an independent Ukraine and European integration on the one hand and “separatists” who wanted to join Russia on the other strongly affected the city of Kharkiv. The street confrontations that ended with the defeat of the pro-Russian movement left behind traumas that marked the city for several years. In the film, the sounds of violence from the past break into scenes of the relatively peaceful life that followed. However, in the case of both Kharkiv and the whole of Ukraine, it was a mistake to believe that violence and confrontation with Russia had been overcome. The public places in the city center of Kharkiv where activists fought some years ago were destroyed by Russian artillery in this year. The film was extended to include images of this destruction because the current war is a continuation of the outbreaks from the past and will forever change our future.

War changes the perception of public space and landscape in particular. Gazing at the sky used to be a source of delight. A flight of birds, cloud patterns, a starry night contributed to the feeling of peace. With the release of the first Russian missiles over Ukrainian territory, the sky became a symbol of threat – now danger is seen in it. You can hide from it only underground because the sky is always above a surface. The work Sky. Invasion (2022) by Daniil Revkovskiy and Andriy Rachynskiy consists of a selection of found footage dedicated to these observations. The parallel images of the peaceful and the military sky follow the course of the daily cycle – from dawn to dawn. This is combined with the sounds of encrypted messages consisting of numbers and the phonetic alphabet of the military radio stations UVB-76 and Kraplia. They were recorded in 2022, but have been used since the Cold War, which alludes to a different time cycle – from the old Cold War to the new political confrontation between modern empires, without which it is impossible to talk about the war in Ukraine.

Yarema Malashchuk and Roman Himey work with staged images that show their own bodies in the landscape of the Carpathian Mountains, located close to their hometown Kolomyia, a place that was not directly affected by the calamity of war. Lying still in unnatural positions, dressed in trekking clothes, they seem to ask us: who is depicted on the screen? In The Wanderer (2022), the artists allude to the corpses of Russian soldiers, as seen in the images by military photographers, without talking about it openly. There is no candor in military tactics and strategies either: in 2014 some Russian militants claimed that they went to Ukraine not to fight but on vacation; today that they got lost while training. According to the artists, the work refers to the photographic series If I were a German by Kharkiv’s Fast Reaction Group. Created in 1994, it captured the performance of artists dressed in Nazi uniforms and cosplaying German soldiers during the occupation. Some call the comparison of today’s totalitarian regime in Russia with Nazi Germany a speculation, although in my opinion, some parallels are obvious. And it is certainly not an exaggeration that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is the biggest war in Europe since World War II.

September 2022,
Mykola Ridnyi

Mykola RIDNYI is an artist, filmmaker and essayist based in Kyiv, Ukraine. He works across media, ranging from early political actions in public space to the fusion of site-specific installations, photography and the moving image which constitute the current focus of his practice. In recent films he experiments with nonlinear montage, and a collage of documentary and fiction. His way of reflecting social and political reality draws on the contrast between fragility and resilience of individual stories and collective histories. A connection with alternative times and phenomena, the influence of the past to the present and future, and the pressing polemic of manipulating historical memory born out of contemporary political agendas are among the main issues revealed in his engagements, initiatives, and projects.

Ridnyi has been a founding member of the SOSka group – an art collective originated from Kharkiv, Ukraine. He is a contributing editor of Prostory, an online magazine about art and society. His works has been exhibited in Venice biennale for contemporary art, The School of Kyiv – Kyiv biennale, Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, daad galerie in Berlin, Transmediale in Berlin, Zentrum fur Kunst und Media in Karlsruhe, Galerie fur Zeitgenossische Kunst in Leipzig, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Bonniers konsthall in Stockholm and others. He has been a scholar of Akademie der Kunst in Berlin, Iaspis in Stockholm, Gaude Polonia in Krakow and others.

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