Шепоти та крики. Голоси українських фотографок
Whispers and Shouts. Voices of Ukrainian Women Photographers
Fluister en schreeuw. Stemmen van Oekraïense fotografes
On the 24th February 2022, the Russian Federation began a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine. The invasion marked a new turn in a war that first broke out nine years ago, when the Crimean Peninsula was annexed in 2014, and when swaths of the Donbas region were occupied.
This ongoing war is extremely brutal; the Russian military deliberately attacks civilians – killing, raping, torturing, targeting humanitarian missions, and organising forced deportations to Russia. Civilian infrastructure – be it power plants, schools, cultural objects, hospitals, public transportation or residential buildings – is often the main target. The scale of destruction and the toll of human casualties grow constantly. At the time of writing, Ukrainian government statistics show 52,633 registered war crimes, 120,000 civilian buildings destroyed, 10,607 civilians injured, and 6,755 killed.
The war’s severity has led to mass displacement, both within Ukraine and beyond its borders. With fluctuating cycles of departure and return, it is difficult to estimate the scale of displacement; when only registered cases inform statistics, the reality is likely further-reaching than reports suggest. Where the International Organisation for Migration estimates that over 6.5 million people have moved internally, the UNHCR cites 7.9 million registered as refugees across Europe – of which more than 86 thousand currently reside in the Netherlands. This is the largest displacement of people in Europe since World War II, and with Ukrainian men aged 18 or over obliged to remain in the country, the majority of those uprooted are women.
Whispers and Shouts. Voices of Ukrainian Women Photographers gathers stories of war and displacement by artists of Ukrainian origin. Their projects address complexities of emotion, pain, loss, connections between people, and the trauma of being separated from home. Most of these stories reflect the artists’ personal realities – of losing close friends and family, of reuniting with relatives under new circumstances, of investigating their roots, or of experiencing motherhood in times of war.
For her monumental series, Radiations of War (2022), Yana Kononova researches the territories subjected to Russian missile terror, that have been occupied by invading troops, or where other hostilities have occurred. The work reflects the intimate process of facing and enduring pain, whilst presenting simultaneously a meticulous documentation of Russian war crimes and their aftermath. Radiations of War unapologetically shows the lethal energy of the war, providing important context for the exhibition.
Darina Iyudina’s Sumuyu Soms (2022) – missing sometimes – transports viewers to her parents’ household in the Dutch municipality of Weert, where Darina first moved with her mother as a seven-year-old. In March 2022, the artist’s aunt and cousins would also arrive in the Netherlands, having fled the war in Ukraine. The work muses gently on their adaptation to the new situation – of becoming a joint family.
In Debaltsevo, Where Are You? (2013-2023), Karine Zenja Versluis – a third-generation Ukrainian – investigates the story of her grandmother, who was born in Debaltseve, near Donetsk. In the face of various obstacles on her journey to access her heritage, the artist spent time with three women from Debaltseve whose families were displaced over the course of the war.
The Netherlands-based Katia Motyleva presents her Loss project (2002-2022), conceived as an ode to a sister she lost twice. Assembled from materials spanning a 20-year period, the project compresses the history of the war in Ukraine, revealing how the impact of displacement started years ago. Olena Morozova’s What is the Nature of Violence? (2022) charts social media reactions to the conflict, expressing her emotions in the midst of darkness through clay and photography. Offering a glimmer of hope, Katya Lesiv closes the exhibition with I am. Rada / Я Рада. Rada is the name of her daughter, which in Ukrainian means “happy”. The images document feelings of presence and relief, as well as conveying the reality of motherhood in times of war, as observed from a foreign country.
A parallel group presentation, How Does it Feel?, by Mykolaiv’s MYPH school of photography, with contributions by students and community members, provides further depth to the exhibition through a collective statement by 13 artists. Most of the works were made in 2022, reflecting the lived experiences of the photographers during the latest invasion. This satellite installation will be hosted by Astare, a space for professionals in mental health care, and a loyal partner of FOTODOK. The show can be found across the road from our venue; all visitors are welcome at both spaces. The contributing artists are: Alina Lysak, Anastasiia Antonenko, Anna Biletska, Eva Fomitskih, Li Biletska, Mary Jane (Oleksandra Mykhailova), Oleksandra Viazinko, Olena Kosovych, Olena Lemberska, Olena Morozova, Olia Koval, Xenia Petrovska, and Yevheniia Kriuk.
Opening: The 24th of February, 15:00 -19:00 pm.
At 15:00 pm artists talk about their works at Astare – Lange Nieuwstraat 10, 3512 PH Utrecht, across the street from FOTODOK. Please reserve a spot if you want to attend artists’ talks:
Opening hours: The exhibition will be open from February 24 until May 14 2023, every Friday to Sunday, 12:00 – 18:00.
Curator: Daria Tuminas
Design: Studio Sara Cristina Moser
Production: Olga Victorie & FOTODOK team
Translation and editing: Olena Rosstalna, Felix van de Vorst, George H. King
With the support of the City of Utrecht, Mondriaan Fonds, and vfonds.