Ukraine House in Denmark

Ukraine House in Denmark presents “Brave to Witness: Ukrainian War Diaries” exhibition

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In honor of the Ukrainian Independence Day on Aug. 24, Ukraine House in Denmark is launching a new multi-disciplinary project “Brave to Witness: Ukrainian War Diaries” with the aim of showcasing visual, poetic and musical wartime diaries authored by prominent Ukrainian artists, poets and musicians.

The official opening for the public will take place on Aug. 24, 2023, at 18:00 with the first curator's guided tour taking place at 18:30.

Address: Gammel Dok, Strandgade 27B, Copenhagen.

After more than 500 days of war, the attention to Russia’s crimes and victims is shrinking. We want to bring wartime diaries of Ukrainian artists, authors, musicians, and filmmakers to the spotlight and to amplify them through the use of various digital media. Our focus will be on the diaries and evidence from the temporarily-occupied territories of Ukraine, particularly from the places that suffered an unthinkable level of cruelty and damage while lacking adequate response from the international community, such as Nova Kakhovka.

“Wartime diaries are a powerful tool for reflection, coping and witnessing. For centuries, they have served as evidence of war crimes that helped to bring the perpetrators to justice and as important instruments of raising awareness and educating the future generations. They are also an essential part of cultural discourse and play a significant role in shaping the historical and political narrative both during the war and in postwar reflections and studies. Finally, they play a therapeutic role in the lives of their authors in helping them to deal with trauma, stress and anxiety,” says Katya Stukalova, co-curator of the exhibition.

The on-going Russia-Ukraine war, particularly its stage that began on Feb. 24, 2022, is an unprecedentedly well-documented war. It is perhaps the first war in history to have received such a vast and diverse exposure and coverage - from local and international news media and social media to drone footage and open source investigations. 

"Diaries documenting this war have already become a part of its exposure and an influential political tool. Sky Above Kharkiv: Dispatches from the Ukrainian Front by writer Serhiy Zhadthe diaries of killed Ukrainian writers Viktoria Amelina and Volodymyr Vakulenko are a few of the intimate accounts-turned-testimonies of war that will be featured in the project. These diary entries have already played a large role in providing an honest account of russia's actions in Ukraine and changing the perception of the war in international media and politics while serving as a source of strength and resilience for Ukrainians. Wartime diaries are witnesses of our resistance that persists despite the everyday horror of the losses of precious lives. As they echo sentiments penned by previous generations of Ukrainians who stood for Ukrainian independence, like members of the Executed Renaissance, the contemporary Ukrainian wartime diaries are both an ode to the historic continuity of the Ukrainian struggle for freedom and a lament for the weight of the sorrow that will be carried by the generations of Ukrainians to come. Above all, they testify that we will overcome," says Nataliia Popovych, chairperson of Ukraine House in Denmark.

“Individual voices, emotional response, evidence and reflections on the margins add human dimension to official news and political discourse, they are important carriers of Zeitgeist - the spirit of time, which helps to understand history and to remember. Artists and writers expose the core of Russia's war in Ukraine, which is meant to destroy not only the physical being of people in a certain country, but also global political unity, ecology, identity and cultural memory. Sharing voices across disciplines, this selection of artworks foregrounds their anthropological importance in the political conversations that dominate current agenda,” explains Olga Zhuk, co-curator of the exhibition, deputy director of the ‘Mystetskyi Arsenal’ National Culture, Arts and Museum Complex in Kyiv.

The diaries will be presented in various mediums to amplify their impact and encourage audience interaction. As such, attendees will have the opportunity to engage with the experiences documented by the diaries’ authors through original sketchbooks, pages from the diaries printed in large formats,  photo and art diaries presented as light boxes, projections, on touchscreens and as sound installations. The various media will be used to translate the intimate language used in diary-writing into the more monumental scale that a war diary deserves while securing the digitalisation and preservation of this fragile type of artwork.

The panel discussions and book presentations program that will accompany the exhibition will elevate the voices of Ukrainian poets such as Serhiy Zhadan whose social media diary has been published as a book and posthumously feature the diary entries of Ukrainian authors who were killed by russian aggression, including Volodymyr Vakulenko and Viktoria Amelina.

The musical part of the project will include live and hybrid electronic music performances involving Ukrainian musicians reflecting on the destruction brought about by the russian aggression.

PARTICIPANTS: Vlada Ralko, Inga Levi, Viktoriia Rozentsveih, Alevtina Kakhidze, Gera Artemova, Kostiantyn Polischuk, Mykyta Lyskov, Daniil Nemyrovsky, Antonina Semenova, Darya Molokoedova and others. 

EXHIBITION CURATORS: Katya Stukalova, Olga Zhuk

PANEL DISCUSSION CURATOR: Nataliia Popovych

ORGANIZER: Ukraine House in Denmark

PARTNER: The Ukrainian Institute, the Embassy of Ukraine to the Kingdom of Denmark

The exhibition will run from Aug. 24, 2023, until Oct. 1, 2023.

Registration: kortlink.dk/2mc52

For press inquiries, please contact Maya Zakhovaiko, Communications Lead, press@ukrainehouse.dk

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