"It’s Important For Us to Develop the Cultural Ecosystem”: An Interview with Bozhena Pelenska, Director of the Jam Factory
The Lviv project Jam Factory can confidently be called one of the longest-running artistic construction projects in Ukraine. The transformation of the space of the former jam factory into a multidisciplinary cultural center began in 2015. The process was interrupted, transformed, and finally, in the fall of 2023, after eight years of work, the project was publicly presented to the world. In an interview for Suspilne Kultura, Documenting Ukraine grantee Anastasiia Platonova spoke with Bozhena Pelenska, the director of Jam Factory, about what it was like to launch a massive cultural institution in the second year of a full-scale war, the ambition required to develop Ukraine’s artistic ecosystem, and future plans for the Jam Factory.
Translating the Abrupt Reality into Common Language
We are witnessing history in the making. As we screen films that show what has already happened, we remain mindful that other events are taking place right now. The filmmakers whose work is presented within the program entitled “The Context of Truth”, began instinctively recording what they saw and came to realize that they were capturing something that—most probably—will be gone forever. They are not just recording the war, but keeping alive the memory of what has been lost: places, people, normality. Even during the war, people in Ukraine are dining in restaurants, getting haircuts, dancing, and watching films. But when they leave the dark cinema hall, they return to a life full of almost the same images that they just saw on the screen. Katherine Younger, a Permanent Fellow at the IWM, and Kseniya Kharchenko, Documenting Ukraine Project Manager, in a conversation on the careful choice of messages about the careless reality of war.
“People of Culture Taken Away by the War”
“People of Culture Taken Away by the War” is a series of literary portraits designed as an online project and launched by PEN Ukraine and The Ukrainians Media. While working on the stories, the project team researches the fallen heroes’ heritage and talks to their relatives and colleagues. The special project is aimed to preserve the memory of the people of whom the war has deprived the Ukrainian culture and to testify about Russia’s genocidal intentions.
Preserving the Canvas of Culture
Sasha Dovzhyk, Ukrainian writer, literary scholar and curator of culture projects, Documenting Ukraine grantee and a former fellow at the IWM—about the work of memory and creating the chronicle of the losses of Ukrainian culture.
Theory and the Practice of Context
At this year's this human world – International Human Rights Film Festival a program titled "The Context of Truth," dedicated to Ukraine will be featured. In her curatorial statement, Olga Birzul reflects on how the entire world has become hostage to Russian propaganda, the crisis of empathy, and the power of solidarity in resisting Russian aggression.
Learning to Understand Suffering Different from One's Own: Aliona Karavai's Conversation With Yurko Prokhasko About Loneliness
Yuri Prohasko is a Ukrainian literary scholar, psychoanalyst, and publicist from Ivano-Frankivsk. Among other works, he has translated Rainer Maria Rilke and Franz Kafka from German, Deborah Vogel from Yiddish, and Leszek Kołakowski from Polish into Ukrainian. Aliona Karavai is a cultural manager from Donetsk, co-founder of the media outlet post impreza, and the director and curator of the Assortment Room in Ivano-Frankivsk. At the request of Suspilne Kultura, Aliona Karavai and Yurko Prokhasko spoke about loneliness, love, and how war vividly illustrates virtues and vices.
Great Motherland, Soviet Nostalgia, Illiteracy, Twisted Shame and a Bit of God: What’s Behind the Inscriptions on the Walls
According to the Ukrainian activists documenting graffiti left by the Russian occupiers in Ukraine, the devil is in the details. In times of war, even such seemingly mundane things as writings on walls and even school boards help us in creating the profile of the aggressor, decoding their motives and nature, as well as proving that the Russo-Ukrainian War is far more than the war of Vladimir Putin, the only person responsible for it.
Responsibility Means Responding: Aliona Karavai on Institutional Mistakes, Colonialism, and Resentment Towards Russia
Aliona Karavai, a contemporary art curator, discusses the situation surrounding the exhibitions "As Though We Hid the Sun in a Sea of Stories: Fragments for a Geopoetics of North Eurasia" and "The Assault of the Present on the Rest of Time" in Berlin.
The Place of 'Russian Romanticism' and Ukrainian Art: A Conversation with Roman Khimey and Yarema Malashchuk
Roman Khimey and Yarema Malashchuk are known for their experiments with the forms of video and cinema, which have become iconic in art and film. Their documentary film "Zarvanytsia" (2021) was featured in several film festivals. Khimey and Malashchuk are winners and laureates of awards, and their artistic works have been exhibited in numerous exhibitions in Ukraine and beyond. In June 2023, they participated in the exhibition "Documenting Ukraine: Bearing Witness to War" with a short film about the looted Kherson Museum (which recently received an award at the 4:3 Short Film Festival in Ivano-Frankivsk).
A Woman Drove It: Zhenya Oliinyk About the Evacuation
Zhenya Oliinyk, an illustrator and cartoonist from Ukraine, wrote a story about the female evacuation right after the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine started. Women drove various vehicles, taking their families, pets, friends, and those who asked for help as far from the war as they could. Many then said that driving was a life-saving skill worth getting only for this unbelievable—who believed that "big war" is possible in the 21st century?—purpose.
Sasha Dovzhyk: “Our Current Resistance Is Rooted In History”
Sasha Dovzhyk is a Ukrainian writer, literary scholar, and curator who explores the past through literature and documents the present via eyewitness testimonies of survivors of the Russo-Ukrainian war. In her opinion pieces and essays for foreign audiences, she reflects on the changes that have taken place in Ukrainian society in recent years and the impact of Russia’s full-scale aggression, including her personal transformations. In this candid interview that was taken in November 2022, presented as a monologue, Sasha reflects on the ways for her to contribute to Ukraine's victory and on the traditions of Ukrainian resistance. Dovzhyk is a grantee of the Documenting Ukraine program at IWM who participated in a series of discussions under the title "Documenting Ukraine: Bearing Witness to War."
Volodymyr Rafeyenko: "We Are a People Who Give Birth to Ourselves"
Volodymyr Rafeyenko, award-winning Ukrainian writer, poet, translator, literary and film critic, and author of the novels The Length of Days and Mondegreen: Songs about Death and Love, reflects on the true meaning of the word "freedom" and how independence is being shaped.
When the Past Has Your Back: Bohdana Neborak on Artists and Works That Become Contemporary
The chief editor of The Ukrainians and cultural manager Bohdana Neborak writes about ‘ours’ and ‘theirs,’ as well as what modernity is and why the ideas of Shevelov and Malaniuk are still fresh.
How Are You? A Column About Love, Hate, Songs, and How Worldbuilding Is Falling Apart
In her text, curator and cultural project manager Oksana Shchur reflects on the project "Ukrainian Songs of Love and Hate," featuring Lyuba Yakymchuk, Irena Karpa, Yuriy Gurzhy, Grigory Semenchuk, as well as translators Oleh Kolesnikov and Anna Paschenko, and visual artists Grycja Erde and Yevheniy Arlov.
Nuclear Anxiety of the Wild Fields: On the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant
Deception, speculation, and fears regarding the possibility of a terrorist act at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) — in a column from Sasha Dovzhyk, special projects curator at the Ukrainian Institute London and associate lecturer in Ukrainian at University College London.
Opening of the Exhibition “Documenting Ukraine: Bearing Witness to War” at Bildraum Studio
On 2 June 2023, the exhibition “Documenting Ukraine: Bearing Witness to War” will be officially opened. The exhibition, organized in cooperation with Bildrecht and FOTO WIEN, will be held from 2 June to 1 July 2023 at Bildraum Studio.
Documenting Ukraine and Ukrainians
Serhii Korovayny has been documenting the Russo-Ukrainian War since its start in the Donbas in 2015. His wide-ranging work, which has been supported by Documenting Ukraine, captures daily life during wartime, Russian atrocities in Ukraine, environmental issues, displaced people, and healthcare topics, among other themes. His photographs will be presented as part of the exhibition Documenting Ukraine: Bearing Witness to War at Bildraum Studio in Vienna from 3 June till 1 July 2023.
A Speech to Europe 2023 by Oleksandra Matviichuk
On 9 May, Oleksandra Matviichuk, Head of the Center for Civil Liberties, delivered this year's Speech to Europe on Vienna's Judenplatz. Under the banner “No Peace without Freedom, No Justice without Law,” the Ukrainian lawer and human rights activist underlined the importance of international solidarity and resistance against injustice. Read the full transcript of her speech in English here.
A Year Ago, We Survived a Terrorist Attack at the Kramatorsk Railway Station. Our Very Lives Are Open Wounds
On 8 April, a terrorist attack struck the Kramatorsk railway station. Russian troops shelled civilians who wanted to flee to safe regions. The enemy’s two Tochka-U cluster missiles killed 61 and wounded 121 people. Among them are the heroes of this article: Anastasiia Shestopal, Vladyslav Kopychko and Kateryna Iorhu. They were severely wounded, and subsequently underwent painful surgeries and rehabilitation procedures. Below is what happened to them during the six months following the terrorist attack that changed their lives forever. The material was created for Svoi.City within the framework of the Life of War project supported by the Public Interest Journalism Lab and the IWM.
Stories from the liberated Kharkiv region: A Life in War project by Zaborona Media
As a result of Ukraine’s first counteroffensive in September 2022, the Armed Forces of Ukraine liberated nearly the entire Kharkiv region, one-third of which was occupied by Russian forces. Liberation revealed similar sights to what the world had witnessed in Bucha and Hostomel in the Kyiv region in April 2022; torture chambers and mass graves were found in towns and villages. These findings are not the only evidence of massive atrocities that took place under occupation in Izium and Balakliia. Seven months have passed since the liberation of the Kharkiv region; as Ukraine prepares for another counteroffensive, it is a fitting moment to recall the sorts of experiences they are liberating Ukrainians from. Here we look back on what Ganna Sokolova, a journalist with Zaborona Media, found upon first coming to the liberated territories. This is the first in a series of blog posts that will highlight the work of Ukrainian media organizations as part of the joint project Life of War, implemented by Ukrainian journalists in collaboration with PIJL and the Documenting Ukraine program at the IWM. Life in War focuses on capturing human stories and documenting the modern history of Ukraine against the backdrop of the Russo-Ukrainian War.
Anastasia Vlasova was one of the first photographers who came to Kherson right after its deoccupation on 11 November 2022. Born and raised in Kherson, she used to refer to her hometown as "a small city where nothing ever happens" and then admits, "until last year, obviously."
Documenting Ukraine as an Act of Solidarity
Within hours of the start of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the IWM made a commitment to increasing our support for Ukrainian intellectuals, building on our tradition of practical solidarity with societies fighting for freedom and our longstanding engagement with Ukrainian academia and civil society. We recognized that chronicling the Russo-Ukrainian War was something that the IWM was uniquely positioned to contribute to.
The Longest February: One Year of Full-Scale War
There has not been a moment since the morning of 24 February 2022 left untouched by the Russo-Ukrainian War. A wry commonplace among Ukrainians is that February 2022 still hasn’t ended – we are now in its 13thmonth. It feels both impossible and essential to reflect on the past year, to think about where we stand now, and to envision the future. Here we present a selection of publications by members of the IWM community tied in some way to the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, in English and German. Many of the authors represented here are part of the IWM's Documenting Ukraine program. New items are added on an ongoing basis.
Ihor Bartkiv: "The war must be documented—and someone has to do it"
People who experienced the Russian occupation of Bucha and other towns in the Kyiv region in February-March 2022 are now trying to save themselves mentally rather than physically, seeking refuge from their memories. The rapid reconstruction of the city, which so captivated outside observers, is also a way to try to return to “pre-February 24” Bucha. The archivists and regional experts who lived through all these horrible events are forced to bring together their personal experiences and their professional duties. The employees of the Archive Department of the Bucha City Council, where documents of the National Archives are held, have spent every day since the very beginning of the full-scale invasion recording events on the spot, taking photographs, capturing video footage. Now the Archive Department is cataloging these materials and providing information to journalists, to legal experts who are investigating war crimes, and to other interested parties. The head of the Archive Department of the Bucha City Council, Ihor Bartkiv, discusses his experience in Bucha under occupation by Russian forces.
Why Documenting Ukraine? Bearing Witness through Culture and Scholarship
The IWM launched Documenting Ukraine in March 2022 to contribute to creating a record of the Russo-Ukrainian War, capturing the human experience of that war, and making it accessible and comprehensible to the broader world. Since then, we have supported 192 projects proposed by Ukrainian scholars, creative professionals, journalists, public intellectuals, and preservation experts that establish and preserve a factual record or bring meaning to events through artistic interpretation and intellectual reflection. Ultimately, the materials collected and produced through these projects will be housed in a complex, transdisciplinary archive.
Olena Braichenko: "There is a love and care that can be shown to others precisely through food"
“ïzhakultura” is an independent project about food culture that was founded by Olena and Artem Braichenko in 2017. It is the first resource in Ukraine dedicated to the history of Ukrainian cuisine, where scholars, chefs, food critics, and food anthropologists discuss history, culture, and art through the prism of food. Over the five years of its existence, ïzhakultura has included gastronomy research, the publishing house ïzhak, and numerous thematic events, which not only deepen Ukrainians’ knowledge of their own culture, but also tell the world about Ukraine. Here Olena Braichenko talks about ïzhakultura’s work since February 24.
The Voices of Kharkiv: Reconstructing Everyday Life in Wartime
Since February 24, 2022, Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,5 million, has been undergoing daily shelling, missile attacks, and unprecedented destruction. Only 40 kilometers from the Russian border, the city was considered an easy target for the Russian forces, who expected the largely Russophone residents to welcome them as liberators. Far from that, the city mobilized to fight the invaders and resists heroically for nearly ten months of the war.
Education in the Shelter: Testimonies of Teaching and Learning during the War
University professors teaching classes from trenches, children doing homework by candlelight, teachers giving lectures after being evacuated from their hometowns – this is the new “normal” of Ukrainian education. According to the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, as of late October 2022 2,677 schools and universities have been damaged by the war and 331 have been destroyed. More than half a million students and over 25,000 teachers fled abroad as refugees. But while the education process continues online and in hybrid forms, there is an acute need to understand and assess the experiences and needs of students and faculty. Documenting Ukraine supports several initiatives that collect testimonies and record such experiences.