To Sew on to Life: Berlin, Hotel Continental, Art Space in Exile

27 march, 2023

I was looking for a jackknife a bit
in the survival kit
while a can of tuna rolled out of it
taken in haste
when we ran away*


To Sew on to Life is a collaboration between the artist Mariia Mytrofanova and Ukrainian writers and poets Yevgeniya Belorusets, Danylo Galyko, Mykyta Kozachinsky, and Marianna Maksymova (Eva Raiska). The poets and artists are working through their memories of facing the war and aim to recognize the traumatic experience of Ukrainians who found themselves facing the situation of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Curators Valeriia Plekhtoko and Sofia Yukhymova note that the project title refers to a Ukrainian metaphor: "to sew (or to stitch) on the living" means to face, touch, cover, and witness something especially intimate, painful, and traumatic. The exhibition will take place at Hotel Continental - Art Space in Exile from March 30 to May 5.

Mariia Mytrofanova, Untitled, 2022. Poems: Danylo Galyko. Traditional Ukrainian shirt, threads. Photo courtesy of curators

With the permission of Danylo Galyko and Marianna Maksymova (Eva Raiska), Arts Looker publishes fragments of two poems from the program: 

Danylo Galyko

I was looking for a jackknife a bit
in the survival kit
while a can of tuna rolled out of it
taken in haste
when we ran away
from our nest
cursing ourselves
we haven't even packed our kits
while others
had prepared theirs
long before 
our cities were bombed and hit
Ruining lives roles plans
in particular, plans
regarding this tuna can
packed and preserved here 
as our hearts were
packed and preserved there 
as our desires were
as our love
our trips
on the terrace
smirks smiles
or whatever is right
our quarrels
arguments and insults
are packed and preserved in a knot  
until we get back to the spot
from where we started
until we open the door
until we step on the terrace
open the tuna can
and rediscover ourselves again

Mariia Mytrofanova, Untitled, 2023. Text: Yevgenia Belorusets.Traditional Ukrainian shirt, threads. Photo courtesy of curators

Danylo Galyko


My music was forced out by sirens
my dreams were dislodged by the news
my strings were ousted by nerve signals
all hope goes for javelin crews
my streets were etched out by basements
instead of coffee I have grease or whatever
my friends were supplanted by train stations
but the spirit is stronger than ever
not books but anxiety that I’m looking for
my backpack is my whole apartment
instead of my bed I sleep on the floor
but faith can be replaced by nothing
nothing will settle my hatred though
my сity will stand for my rage and on
we will grind to dust tail and claws
and all heads off this Gorgon

Mariia Mytrofanova, Untitled, 2022. Poem: Eva Raiska (Marianna Maksymova). Traditional Ukrainian shirt, threads. Photo courtesy of curators

Marianna Maksymova (Eva Raiska)

Ave Maria
is said by those, who look at the sky
lying in the cold soil
It rumbles with
the sound of rockets
and the first spring thunder.
The edge of human flesh trembles
bleeding through a metal casing
wild agony
quiet restlessness
invisible by the god
black ash
will cover
your home.
Ave, Maria
Is in the silence of those who
sleep anxiously
in the Kherson steppes
covered by earth, hidden by sea
humble in spirit, sung by pain.
Virgin Lady, full of grace
Stay with us for a while
in this basement
we ran out today
of the last

March 30, 18:30 - Presentation @Hotel Continental - Art Space in Exile
March 31, 18:00 - Performative readings with Yulia Berdiyarova @Hotel Continental - Art Space in Exile
The last day of the exhibition: May 5

The project was created with the support of the Goethe Institut as part of an emergency grant for cultural workers.

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