Yevgenia Belorusets

Born in 1980, in Kyiv, she lives and works in Kyiv and Berlin. Belorusets received an MA in literature from Kyiv National Linguistic University and a diploma in documentary photography from the Viktor Marushchenko Photography School; she also completed a PhD seminar programme at  the University of Vienna. She is an artist and activist working with photography and video at the intersection of art, literature, journalism and social activism. Belorusets often develops long-term projects that focus on such issues as research into the everyday lives of people living in Ukrainian government-owned communal housing in a state of continuing dilapidation (Gogol Street 32) and contemporary forms of labour in the period of military conflict in Donbas (Victories of the Defeated), amongst other topics. In 2008, she founded Prostory, a journal for literature, art and politics. Since 2009 she has been a member of the curatorial group Hudrada. Her works have been presented at individual shows: Victories of the Defeated, Gasteig, Munich and National Shevchenko Museum, Kyiv in 2016; Euromaidan – Occupied Spaces, OKK, Berlin and Amnesty International Meeting, Münster in 2014; The Ukrainians, DAAD Gallery, Berlin in 2014; Invisible Maidan, Literature Museum, Tbilisi in 2014, and many other exhibitions. She also participated in a wide range of group exhibitions at: PinchukArtCenter, Kyiv; CCA Rotor, Graz; Pavilion of Ukraine at the 56th Venice Biennale; Institute of Contemporary Art UPenn, Philadelphiа; Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn; Academy of Arts, Tbilisi; National Art Museum of Ukraine, Kyiv; CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw; Królikarnia Museum of Sculpture, Warsaw, amongst many other venues and events. She is the holder of numerous prizes and scholarships awarded in Austria, Germany and Ukraine.

 Yevgenia Belorusets, Victories of the Defeated [GA], slideshow/ prints, 2014-2016, photo by Kacper Gorysz

Yevgenia Belorusets, Victories of the Defeated [GL, GA], slideshow/ prints, 2014-2016, photo by Wojciech Pacewicz

The Ukrainian artist has confronted the subject of the armed conflict after the Maidan Revolution taking place in the Eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass between the Separatists secretly supported by Russians and the Ukrainian army. This is by far the strongest work at the exhibition concerning the only war ongoing in Europe. It focuses on civilians’ experience of war (in which over 10.000 have been killed) and their daily life in permanent fear. The screening consists entirely of successive photographs presenting everyday situations of the Donbass inhabitants: industrial plant and railway workers, interrupted by disturbing commentaries – the fragments of telephone conversations which the artist conducted with her witnesses. From the formal perspective it resembles the experimental films of Chris Marker, such as catastrophic Le Jettee, projecting the third world war, and his unique method of combining the elements of a documentary and a philosophical metaphor. Fear, anxiety and reluctance to talk about “the situation” in order not to break down completely, in connection with the photographs of brutal and harsh existence compound a difficult image, really hard to stomach, which functions outside the sensational headlines referring to the conflict. It is hard to speak of what is happening in Donbass, however, should we remain silent?  Belorusets chooses the attitude of humanity: participation and feeling with others. She has spent a lot of time in Donbass in the attempt to know more about her witnesses and get an insight into their lives. As a result, she has created a very moving and compassionate, still not obvious, visual record of war in the lives of ordinary people.