The Art of Coping with War — The European Month of Photography

22 march, 2023

The Art of Coping with War, presenting works of Oleksandr Glyadelov, Yana Kononova, Sasha Kurmaz, Olena Subach, and Ihor Bondarenko, is on view at Museum für Kommunikation in Berlin till April 2, 2023 

Oleksandr Glyadelov. Documentation of the War, 2022. Courtesy of the MOCA NGO

It is impossible to prepare for war. We have seen artworks about wars often, looked through war crime documents, watched movies, and read books. Yet, only those who have been immersed in war with every fiber of their beings can understand that war means pure terror. Galyna Gleba and Olga Balashova, curators of the Wartime Art Archive, show the observations of war from the inside. The Art of Coping with War presents five series, therefore five personal reactions to the war.

Oleksandr Glyadelov’s photographs are connected to photojournalism and reporting but go far beyond mere documentation of events. His images always reveal a broader context for his viewer. Having professional experience in conflict zones worldwide, Glyadelov has been recording the Russian war against Ukraine for eight years. On February 24, when the full-scale invasion began, Glyadelov was in the Kyiv region and started taking images immediately. Glyadelov began to create a series of visual war reports to fight the occupant. Keeping a professional view as a documentarist, Oleksandr Glyadelov’s works memorialize the benchmarks of this war, becoming a behind-the-scenes guide for global viewers. 

The Flowers Under Attack series by Ihor Bondarenko is the most visually distant from the realities of war, yet emotionally remains highly realistic. As hundreds of bombs and missiles fall daily on Ukrainian land, the flowers against a background of explosions become a symbol of life that wins over death. These photographs' ideas and images overlap, creating a new symbolic reality. All the flowers and explosions in the series were shot during the full-scale war.
Ihor Bondarenko. Flowers Under Attack, 2022-2023. Courtesy of the MOCA NGO

Sasha Kurmaz uses the camera to record daily life and how this life changes under the influence of destructive force. At the same time, he makes notes in a notebook and collects various found objects from the street, which he uses as working material. As a working method, the artist uses collage because this technique allows expressing most accurately and fully the situation in which he finds himself and also permits him to connect various documents and media. The artist is documenting his life during the war and shares thoughts, feelings, fears, and pain that he experienced and how they affected him. Beyond the personal aspect, this project also aims to answer more fundamental questions, such as: What does it mean to make art during a war? Is it possible to convey the experience of war through art?
Sasha Kurmaz. From The Red Horse series, 2022-2023. Courtesy of the MOCA NGO

Olena Subach shot her series in her hometown Lviv. This city in Western Ukraine became a relatively safe shelter for more than 200,000 Ukrainians who were forced to leave their homes when the Russian invasion began on February 24, 2022. At the center of her Hidden series are the museum restaurateurs working to protect the art and cultural artifacts in public places from possible destruction and missile attacks. These photographs contain much sorrow but not without much hope and tenderness.
Olena Subach. Hidden series, 2022. Courtesy of the MOCA NGO

Since March 2022, Yana Kononova’s work has been focused on studying the military aggression which the Russian Federation has started against Ukraine. The author studies the
paradoxical nature of modern war conditioned with the duality of the machinery’s nature which while being a tool of life, carries a military potential of destruction. X-Scapes is a series of blurred, unnamed landscapes, created under the influence of thermal effects and shock waves of explosions on various materials. The forms resemble ghostly decorations from fantasy movies, in reality, however, they are architectural shadows and maimed skeletons.
Yana Kononova. From the X-Scapes series, 2022. Courtesy of the MOCA NGO

The exhibition is organized by MOCA NGO, the Embassy of Ukraine in Germany, the European Month of Photography, and Museum für Kommunikation Berlin. 
The Art of Coping with War is on view at Museum für Kommunikation Berlin, Leipziger Str. 16, 9 am - 5 pm, except Mondays. 

The European Month of Photography is the largest German festival for photography. Since 2004, it has been taking place every two years in Berlin. In 2023, EMOP celebrates its tenth edition with 100 exhibitions in Berlin and Potsdam.