From The Battlefield | text
Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, 1651 by Abraham van Westerveld
13.07 – 22.07.
From The Battlefield
is a project that initiates
Ukrainian and Dutch artists.
Admission is free
Collecting donations for Ukrainian refugees
13.07 – 23.07.2022 SEA Foundation
Alevtina Kakhidze (UA), Nick Swarth (NL),
Sasha Kurmaz (UA), Katya Buchatska (UA),
Konstyantyn Doroshenko (UA), Evelien van
der Peijl (NL), Yulia Protsyshyn (UA),
Chantal Rens (NL), Leo Trotsenko (UA),
Tamara Turliun (UA), Andrei Liashcuk (UA),
Roos Vogels (NL), Chikako Watanabe (JP/NL).
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 13:00-17:00
13.07.2022 LocHal, Tilburg
19:30 Introduction. Curators’ talk and
Katya Buchatska foreword.
19:45 (im)pressing process. Artist talk.
Yulia Protsyshyn, Chikako Watanabe,
Evelien van der Peijl, Yael Keijzer.
20:00 Why the rainbow doesn’t fit in
the bear’s mouth. Performance titled
‘And nail polish is my weapon’. Nick J. Swarth,
Kostyantyn Doroshenko. Music by Max Swagemakers.
14.07.2022 LocHal, Tilburg
19:30 Introduction. Curators’ talk.
19:45 One day you will grow back your thumb.
Artist talk. Tamara Turliun, Chantal Rens.
20:00 Seeds of Europe. Performance.
Alevtina Kakhidze with Roos Vogels.
21.07.2022 De Pont Museum
18:00 Artist talk. Katya Buchatska and
19:00-21:00 Film screening.
“Homewards”, director Nariman Aliev.
From the Battlefield
Words and evidence of Ukrainian artists and thinkers exhibited and supported by artists and thinkers from the Netherlands during the Russian war against Ukraine.
The war, unleashed by Russia against Ukraine, brought thousands of deaths and caused the emigration of millions of people. Alongside this, the role of Ukraine in Europe has instantly changed: from the land, known for its so-called “east-European vibe” to the fortress, protecting the democratic values of the world in the face of Russian terrorism. This image of Ukraine can be seen on the news headlines worldwide.
Ukrainians have an unshakable will for freedom and the ability to fight against dictatorship and tyranny: the work of artists and thinkers from various fields (since the medieval) is a huge part of this spirit.
“God is in the heart of this city. The city won’t shake. God will protect it from the first-morning dawn” [Psalm 45:6]. The words in Greek rave on the golden background above the 5.4-meter figure of Madonna in Kyiv’s St. Sophia cathedral. Byzantine masters finished this ambitious project in 1037. Structured as St. Sophia of Constantinople, the cathedral was aimed to be a symbol of Kyiv’s legacy as an heir and successor of Byzantium. Main government decisions were approved nearby by vice — direct democratic elections, the core of Ukrainian social structure — even before the cathedral was erected. Revolutions of Dignity, known as Maidan in 2014 and Orange Revolution in 2007 in Kyiv were considered vices by participants, gathering in the same areas.
The Ukrainian Renaissance burst in the sixteenth century and moved from Lviv to the East to celebrate the rise of independent Cossack states. Cossacks were warriors and peasants, who started to settle in the East of Ukraine in the fiftheenth century. People who refused to obey Moskovian or Polish authorities came to join these free communities. Cossack self-organized armies defended Ukrainian autonomy from Russia till the end of the eighteenth century. In 1775, Russian troops burned to the ground the main Cossack fortress in the East of Ukraine. Russian soldiers killed every Ukrainian they could reach.
Cossack Madonna is a clue plot in the painting of the time of the resistance. Maria holds the veil in her hands, covering and protecting the people, gathered around her. Ukrainian anonymous artists portrayed Cossack leaders and their surroundings,under Madonna’s veil. This iconography is unique to the Eastern Christian tradition, yet it has similarities with the Western plot: Virgin Of Mercy. The Cossack Madonna became a symbol of the Ukrainian army, whose soldiers didn’t have the luxury to experience peace for centuries, defending people’s freedom from the Russian Empire, Bolsheviks’ terror, and the Soviet totalitarian machine.
— “There is a fight; I’m on the battlefield, Where all my soldiers are the words I wield, And treason’s sown by memories that scramble.” — the lines belong to Vasyl Stus, Ukrainian brightest poet, human rights activist, dissident, and hero. Stus spent his youth in Donetsk, in the East of Ukraine. His adult life was stretched between Kyiv and Russian prisons. Stus died in a Soviet prison camp in 1985, tortured. Later the same year, the poet was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature: the committee was not even aware of his death.
In 2014 after the Revolution of Dignity of Ukraine, which caused the crash of the pro-Russian government, Russian troops occupied Crimea and Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. Since 2014 Donetsk has been occupied by Russia, claimed to be “historically Russian territory”.
Only a hallucinating mind could implicate such a narrative. Donetsk region was the core of Ukrainian anti-Soviet Resistance in the twentieth century. One of the most powerful protests and strikes against the Soviet government was organized by Ukrainian miners from the Donetsk region in the 1990s. Thousands of men went to Kyiv from Donbas by foot for more than 700 kilometres, accompanied by cameras and journalists. This protest also was the birth of the first independent Ukrainian broadcasting, working now as Suspilne (Community) TV Channel.
To participate in a panel discussion, broadcasted worldwide, Ukrainian artist Alevtina Kakhidze was able to drive from Myzuchi to the 59th Venice Biennale. Finalizing her speech, Alevtina said from the stage: “Russian intellectuals never talk to Russian soldiers. So you see what happened. But we talk to our soldiers.” By now, the artist is back to her husband. They’re under shellings in the Kyiv region. Our beloved ones are these soldiers. “Today we had the 500th funeral. We bury our warriors every day.
I’ve got no more tears” — texted my friend, an art critic, on April, 26. She’s staying in Ukraine, in her native city on the border with Hungary. Her boyfriend, a tech entrepreneur, took a Military Oath to Ukraine and left with the brigade to Donetsk. Many artists are also fighting on the front. Others are working under shellings and missile attacks. A few of us had the privilege to emigrate.
The Will for Freedom
To see the real situation in Ukraine and to understand the will for freedom, which is a crucial element in the self-identification of the contemporary artist as Ukrainian, we offer the practice of direct dialogue. Which is more appropriate for a rapidly changing situation than a regular exhibition. The role of the spectator in the exhibition involves a distance that allows a certain passivity. This war is affecting the whole of Europe, not just Ukraine, so no one can take the role of a mere observer. From the changes, many opportunities come: among them an ability to exchange and learn from each other, share memories and work to build a new world together.
Programme From The Battlefield
We are working on a series of events that will take place from July 2022 and invited artists living and working in the Netherlands to hold a series of open dialogues with Ukrainian artists and curators who are currently living through the war. These dialogues will form the basis for presentations of the practices of Ukrainian artists. “How has Russia’s war against Ukraine changed the art world?”, “What do the Netherlands and Ukrainian resistance and war history have in common?”, “What is freedom?”, “What is stronger than fear?”, “How to fight colonization if the appropriator is a neighbouring country?”
Kostyantyn Doroshenko (UA), Nick J. Swarth (NL), Sasha Kurmaz (UA), Katya Buchatska (UA), Leo Trotsenko (UA), Chantal Rens (NL), Roos Vogels (NL), Tamara Turliun (UA), Chikako Watanabe (JP/NL), Evelien van der Peijl (NL), Alevtina Kakhidze (UA), Yulia Protsyshyn (UA), Andrei Liashcuk (UA).