Since 1991, contemporary Ukrainian art has repeatedly turned to rethink its past. However, a significant archival and documentary turn occurred in 2014. Since Maidan, many contemporary artists have looked to archives and historical material to review their past. Trauma and historical memory have become essential topics for artistic pursuits. Turning to the past, these artists argue that there is no other way to determine the future. But looking into the past led not only to the creation of new works but also, first and foremost, raised the question of one's own history and why the history of Ukrainian art is still full of blank spots.
According to Walter Benjamin, there is no document of civilization that is not at the same time a document of barbarism. Thus, art history might be reviewed as a history of violence–and the history of Ukrainian art is no different. Today, learning of the deportation of Ukrainian art to Moscow or the destruction of cultural heritage, the methods of barbarism and colonization become clearer. During her talk, Kateryna Iakovlenko provided an overview of Ukrainian art through the lens of violence, emphasizing the role of Ukrainian artists in the socio-political and cultural struggle against tyranny.
Kateryna Iakovlenko is a Ukrainian curator, researcher of contemporary art.
Katherine Younger, IWM Permanent Fellow, provided the introduction and commentary.