Just over one year ago – on February 24, 2022 – Russia’s war in Ukraine started. Since then, Russia has been using brutal military force in an attempt to subjugate the country in violation of international law. For the people of Ukraine, however, this state of oppression began much earlier with the annexation of Crimea in 2014. What it means to live in a country in a state of war and to be part of a collective trauma is difficult to grasp and a highly individual experience. But The Art of Coping with War exhibition at the Museum für Kommunikation tries to encapsulate it. Five photographers examine personal traumas in their works, opening up a perspective on a country in which everyone is permanently trapped in a state of emergency. In black and white, Yana Kononova‘s photographs show military devastation in seemingly abandoned places. Elena Subach‘s series “Hidden” makes the fragility of culture palpable: images of cultural objects packed and wrapped for protection in her hometown of Lviv make them seem powerless.
The effects on nature, meanwhile, are visible in Ihor Bondarenko‘s works: an aesthetic interplay of flowers and nocturnal skies, revealing hails of bombs at second glance. By documenting his everyday life, Sasha Kurmaz gets to the heart of a question that probably preoccupies all Ukrainian artists: what does it mean to create art in times of war? The answers are multifaceted, invariably emotional and never unequivocal.
Text: Hanna Komornitzyk / Credit: Ihor Bondarenko, Olena Subach, MOCA NGO