Issue 2023/4 (343) - Ukrainian Landscapes: Reconstructions • War. Art. Decolonization

Tomasz Szerszeń War. Art. Decolonization4
Writing the War
Jewhenia Biełoruseć War Diary Excerpts 7

The artist and writer Yevgenia Belorusets was in her hometown of Kyiv when the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on the morning of February 24, 2022. For her and millions of Ukrainians reality changed overnight. She set out to document the war and its effects on the ordinary residents of the country: the relentless sound of sirens and gunfire; intense moments of connection and solidarity with strangers; the struggle to make use of a good mood on a spring day. Published each day in German by "Der Spiegel" and in English by ISOLARII, War Diary is as a unique monument to the devastation and resilience of a city under siege.

Olha Hrebennik War Diary Excerpts 11

Using only a notebook and pencil, the author describes a living space shrinking day by day, the first days of the war in a basement, the sudden evacuation from Kharkiv, and the experience of being a war refugee. At the same time, this illustrated war diary is an affective record of family history.

Ludmyła Tymoszenko My Mother Is a Dummy 16

A literary miniature written during the first days of the war and describing the experience of staying in frontline Irpin. “My Mum is a dinosaur. She is against all gifts of civilisation – gadgets, credit cards, electronic tickets. She smokes ordinary cigarettes, reads printed newspapers, solves crossword puzzles, and watches television. She could not be persuaded to get a smartphone. For eight years she used an Alcatel phone with dials, and when it began to become restive she said that she wants an identical one because getting accustomed to a new one is not her favourite pastime. Two months ago we bought her a new Alcatel of the old type. The battery lasts for three days”.

Julia Bereżko-Kamińska Wartime Luggage 18

A literary miniature in which the author, a native of Bucha, describes experiencing migration, a longing for her home, and the burden of difficult wartime memories. “Not a day passes without my wartime luggage reminding me about itself. From behind the wardrobe it radiates anxiety as if contaminated by radioactivity, even hundreds of kilometres from the place from which it was carried across checkpoints, smoke, and ruins. Together with it I left my home like a soul abandons the body. Or a child leaves the mother’s womb. But between my suitcase and my home there stretches an invisible, uncut umbilical cord. I still hope that I shall return. And my suitcase reminds me of this every day.”

War, Art, Decolonization and the Writing Subject
Darja Cymbaluk Academia Must Recentre Embodied and Uncomfortable Knowledge 20

Does academia have space for the embodied knowledge of war overlooked by mainstream Western narratives? There is not much space for live experiences of war in academia outside texts and research analysis. A body that lives through a war is an uncomfortable body. If we want academia to remain relevant to the beating heart of life, and maybe even to react to the challenges of contemporary world, then today – more than ever – we need to learn from our tired, sleep-deprived, worried, and nauseous bodies. Following decolonial, feminist, and other critical scholars we need to recentre embodied and uncomfortable knowledge – knowledge as a burden, knowledge as an injury, and knowledge as emancipation.

Darja Cymbaluk What My Body Taught Me About Being a Ukrainian Scholar Dealing with Ukraine in Times of Russia’s War of Aggression 22

“In this text I examine the relationship of Russian colonialism and coloniality towards knowledge and knowledge-making, and question what it means to be a scholar from Ukraine, dealing with Ukraine, and located in a Western academic institution at the time of Russia’s war against Ukraine. While criticising hierarchies of knowledge production I call for recentering “knowledge that comes from suffering”, as theorised by bell hooks (1994). I turn to knowledge of suffering by engaging in autoethnography and focusing on ways in which the war has affected my body: from my changing relation to the Russian language to an awareness of mechanisms through which my body is being tokenized by academic institutions. Finally, I argue that my body taught me disengagement as a practice of decolonial resistance and a response to Russian colonialism.”

Kateryna Jakowłenko Landscape, the Decolonial, and Ukrainian Resistance 29

“Shevchenko considered crimes against Nature and the environment to be identical to crimes against humanity, as evidenced by his numerous poems and drawings, including graphic notes made during an expedition. He saw numerous shared features in landscapes surrounding him as a child. The horizon beyond which the Sun fled reminded him of enslavement in his native land. His imagination and memories assumed the form of political imagination: Shevchenko dreamed that the day would come when his homeland would be free, and the landscape would no longer suffer from violence. As we do now. […] Today’s Russian political imagination suggests perceiving the Ukrainian landscape as desolate; paraphrasing Gorbatov: ‘girdled with artillery lights.’ However, Ukrainian imagination is identical with Shevchenko’s Romantic vision: it offers performative scenarios as well as those for the emancipation of Nature and the environment. Shevchenko sees the landscape alive. Just as we are constantly seeing it now.”

Lija Dostlewa It’s Time to Decolonize “Donbas” Stereotypes 31

The article explores the nature of stereotypes surrounding Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, framing them as colonial legacy later instrumentalized by the Ukrainian political, cultural, and intellectual elite. In addition, it highlights the historical context, enrooted in Soviet propaganda, which shaped the region’s negative and distorted image. The author argues that the prevailing image of Donbas as the Ukrainian Other has led to the marginalization of its population, contributing to the discrimination faced by internally displaced persons (IDPs) since 2014. The article calls for a shift in discourse, deviating from discussing separate “cultural identity” and focusing on the local and communal aspects of the region. It also advocates a nuanced and empathetic exchange about East Ukraine, acknowledging the impact of historical and structural factors on the region’s challenges.

Switłana Biedariewa Decolonization and Disentanglement in Ukrainian Art 37

Many of the works created by Ukrainian artists during the last eight years reflect on the postcolonial state and traumatic memories of Ukraine’s entanglement with Russia prior to and throughout the twentieth century. However, ever since Russian bombs began falling on Ukrainian towns, killing Ukrainian civilians, including children, destroying thousands of Ukrainian homes, and subsequently evolving into a full-scale Russian invasion (February 2022), understanding of this postcolonial entanglement has changed, as has the attitude toward decoloniality in Ukrainian culture. Art is one of the indicators of such a profound liberation impulse.

Tetiana Pawłowa Ukrainian Photography in the Line of Fire 42

A presentation of a short history of Ukrainian photography, which for decades has been developing despite censorship and political persecutions, and ultimately – since 2014 – is facing an indirect threat of war. Nonetheless, successive generations of Ukrainian photographers fearlessly confront reality, also by creating their own, unique schools and ways of depiction.

Weronika Sklarowa When War is a Context 45

“The creation of art in the conditions and reality of an ongoing war is a process of endless limitations and prohibitions. Instead of dealing with frustrating reality, limitations or losses I wish focus on opportunities. I would like to ponder on how our voice sounds today, how it ‘allows itself’ to be heard abroad, how we can discover it within ourselves, and what we can fall back on. At present, the role played by art has narrowed down to a healing and propaganda function, a verbalisation and record of horror, and a re-evaluation of the idea of humanism. The theatre is always the space of memory and the territory of experiences. The point of departure for my reflections consisted of taking a close look at political, historical or local reminiscences, the experiences of Ukrainian female artists within the context of an ongoing war.”

War, Memory, Imaging
Jessica Zychowicz Bad Myth: Picturing Intergenerational Experiences of Revolution and War in Ukraine Before 2022 51

This abridged chapter from the book Superfluous Women: Art, Feminism, and Revolution in Twenty-First Century Ukraine provides a historical and theoretical context for the arts in Ukraine concerning concepts of freedom of expression, in particular among generations who emerged in the 2000s and the years leading to 2022. The author considers “intergenerational” transmissions of memory of twentieth-century wars and revolutions, in particular in those cases when the great “myths” of the Soviet past are challenged and reinvented in aesthetic experiments conducted within the post-revolutionary (post-Maidan 2013) public sphere, aimed at exposing and overturning antidemocratic rule, systematic corruption, and censorship in recent decades.

Wiera Meniok Wartime Philately. Cataloguing after 24 February 2022 67

A presentation of a catalogued description together with photographs of all editions of postal stamps linked with postcards and envelopes, issued by the Ukrainian National Post (Ukrposhta) at the time of the full-scale aggression of the Russian federation against Ukraine, unleashed in the early hours of 24 February 2024 and involving rocket and bomb attacks against cities in assorted parts of Ukraine. The savage aggressor kills innocent people, murders and rapes women and children, and destroys residential districts, monuments of art and culture, kindergartens and universities, theatres and museums, and hospitals and care centres for the handicapped. In wartime Ukrainian postage stamps ceased being the passion solely of collectors-philatelists and became creative weapons aimed against the enemy. Special wartime editions constitute tangible proof of Ukrainian resistance against the Russian invader. Today, stamps are enthusiastically purchased not only by collectors but also by the average citizen, in this way supporting both cultural resistance and Ukrainian soldiers fighting on the frontline, and thus making a financial contribution towards hastening victory. Up to 15 November 2023 Ukrposhta published 28 editions of stamps with wartime themes.

Ołesia Heraszczenko The Map of Ukraine in a Visual Environment. What Is Behind the Image? 85

This article discusses the appearance of a contour map of Ukraine (1991) in a dynamic visual environment (2000–2023) as an image metamorphosed in social meaning from kitsch to iconic and apparently possessing a strong massification effect in Ukraine. In the conditions in which the country immersed in global social, political, and safety turmoil now finds itself, it appears to be important to bolster interpretations of this process in view of the fact that it has the potential to influence behaviour patterns and interpretations of events to take place the obscure future. The author introduces possible reasons why this particular image gained such meaning over the last year(s), tackles the emergence of collective identity, and scrutinizes the dominant narrative behind discussed phenomena while remaining within the theoretical framework of three themes: visual archive, autotherapy, and nostalgia. In time, after the invasion of 2014 the contour of the map of Ukraine became unavailable for “discussion.” Despite the harshest possible conditions under which this attitude condensed, the contour map of Ukraine has become a landscape on a common cognitive map that seems to define present-day Ukrainians and to preserve topicality and impact for generations to come.

Julia Krywicz In Ukraine 98

“In December 2019 I stood next to the Dworzec Zachodni train station in Warsaw, holding a flag with the slogan W Ukrainie (In Ukraine). I chose this spot for symbolic reasons: it is at this bus and train station that refugees from Ukraine usually arrive. The campaign gained publicity and inaugurated within Polish society a discussion concerning Polish-Ukrainian relations and the colonial history of both nations. From that time not much has changed. In 2022, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Polish Language Council officially accepted the term ‘in Ukraine’ as a correct linguistic form.”

Retrieved Avant-gardes
Małgorzata Dziewulska Les Kurbas, Four Last Images 99

Fragment of a larger essay: Łeś Kurbas, dziewięć obrazów, from the book by Małgorzata Dziewulska, to be published in the “Odzyskana awangarda” series of the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute as Awangarda podkarpacka. Dziewieć reportaży historycznych (Łeś Kurbas, Pawło Kowżun, Bohdan Ihor Antonycz, Stowarzyszenia Artystyczne, Leopold Lewicki, Teatr malarzy Cricot, Henryk Wiciński, Tadeusz Kantor, Józef Chrobak). Successive images portray Les Kurbas leaving Galicia; Kyiv and the poets’ republic at the home of Heorhiy Narbut; Christmas Vertep; a soldiers’ audience of Haydamaky; the poet Mykola Bazhan among the audience of the Kyidramte Theatre; the agitprop theatre – the vertep in the service of propaganda; Osip Mandelstam among the Berezil Theatre audience; Kurbas’ stagings of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, theatre and gallows.

*  The Case of Les and the Berezil Theatre at a Session of the Soviet Commissariat for Education. Transcript from a Meeting Held on 5 October 1933113
Tetiana Pawłowa Constructor Vasyl Yermylov 119

A sketch about Vasyl Yermylov (1894–1968, Kharkiv), founder of the Ukrainian faction of constructivism.

Andrij Bojarov Margit, Jolanta and Other Women of Lviv 123

The past year brought wide-ranging presentations of Ukrainian avant-garde and modernistic art, held in Europe. The exhibitions in question share yet another common feature: they discuss and describe art from the largest centres and cities of present-day Ukraine, such as Kyiv, Kharkiv or Odessa, created mainly during the eras of the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union; on the other hand, they totally ignore significant cultural centres in the western part of the country, such as Lviv. Nor do they take into consideration the history of art in those present-day day regions of Ukraine, which in the past were situated within Austro-Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary or Romania. Paradoxically, all the exhibition projects attempting to distinguish Ukrainian avant-garde and modernism from, predominately, Russian avant-garde and, more widely, modernism, include them extremely firmly (naturally, perforce) in the Russian cultural background. The presented text focuses on several heretofore unknown motifs concerning precisely the Lviv milieu during the inter-war period – a sui generis footnote to a general presentation of modernistic Ukrainian art and, in particular, artists-creators who established the “artes” group or were linked with the latter, such as Aleksander Krzywobłocki or Wanda Diamand, and predominantly Margit and Roman Sielscy.

Framing the Empire
Oksana Dudko Gate-crashing “European” and “Slavic” Studies: Can Ukrainian Studies Transform Field Studies? 127

The full-fledged Russian invasion has brought Ukraine to the centre of academic and public attention. The fact that Ukraine did not immediately collapse astonished the global community and forced many to ask an important question: what is Ukraine? Although Ukraine received worldwide media attention during the Orange Revolution and the Revolution of Dignity, for many “Westerners” it remained an “unexpected nation” that seems to exist only during brief periods of international media coverage. The presented text argues that thinking about Ukrainian studies not as a threat to “European” and “Slavic” studies but as an analytical category can open up a vantage point from which scholars could critically examine epistemological hierarchies of power and inequalities by conducting field studies.

Witali Czernecki On Some Post-Soviet Postcolonialisms 136

The question: “Are we postcolonial?” begs several related issues. First, who are “we”? The residents of the former Soviet Union and its satellites in Eastern Europe and elsewhere? The intellectual communities of those countries? Diasporas with roots in the same countries? The foreign-based (especially Western-based) scholars dealing with the region’s cultures?

Erica Marat, Botakoz Kassymbekowa Time to Question Russia’s Imperial Innocence 138

The Russian invasion of Ukraine could inaugurate the painful process of decolonizing Russia. Much depends on whether Russian intellectuals let go of the ideals of the momentous Russian people and the friendship of “brotherly” nations. This requires accepting the sovereignty and equality of other countries and cultures and admitting responsibility for the Soviet genocidal colonial past. Decolonizing Russian political discourse and culture will debunk the myth of Russian imperial innocence and victimhood and restore the dignity of the colonized.

Madina Tłostanowa, Paweł Sztarbowski, Dorota Sajewska, Maria Hlavajova A Skovorodian towards Shevchenko’s and Gogol’s Man 142

“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an ‘iron curtain’ has descended across the continent”. Do those famous words spoken by Winston Churchill in 1946, which for years confirmed the simple dichotomy of Europe, still hold true? Did the breakthrough of 1989 really change the semantics of the concepts of East and West? In recent years, the metaphor of the “new Iron Curtain” has been reappearing more and more often. The still present inferiority complex of the periphery, populist governments based on nationalist and anti-European slogans, and, finally, the war in Ukraine and mass migrations strongly influence the creation of new divisions, but also provide an opportunity to create a new balance of power and a community far from right-wing populism and, at the same time, devoid of Western-centric hegemony. Today, the question of new European solidarity also becomes a question about the possibility of a new world and the values on which it is to be based”. A record of a debate held at the Powszechny Theatre as part of the Forum of the Future of Culture 2023.

Rostysław Czopyk Theatre of War. Dziady in Ivano-Frankivsk 148

The concept of a “Skovorodian” or “follower of Skovoroda” (after M. Shlemkevych, Y. Lypa, V. Janiv, and others) is usually understood to be a Ukrainian from the second half of the eighteenth century, for whom the greatest authority was the itinerant Ukrainian philosopher Hrihorii Skovoroda and the latter’s supposed quietism – an escape to one’s inner self, Nature, and moral self-improvement, together with indifference towards all that is external, paltry, and social. The silent consent of such a follower supposedly accompanied the fall of the Hetmanate, while processes at the turn of the eighteenth century, with far-reaching consequences (the onset of modern Ukrainian literature and identity), took place already without his participation. The author of the article disputes with similar opinions by arguing that I. Kotliarevsky, founder of modern Ukrainian literature, viewed the world “through the eyes of a Skovorodian” (after M. Hrushevsky, O. Rusov, S. Yefremov, and L. Ushkalov), and situating the initial impulse for the works of T. Shevchenko within the domain of influence exerted by Skovoroda. Moreover, Rostislav Chopyk launches a thesis about the “crisis of Gogol’s prose” (after E. Bojanowska) and the existential decline of M. Gogol, whose last years were maintained in an anti-Skovoroda spirit. Skovoroda’s philosophy proves to be a criterion of the Ukrainian spirit upon the threshold of the self-formation of modern identity. A “Skovorodian” was compelled to choose “between Gogol and Shevchenko” (after J. Łucki), i.e. between a follower of Gogol, who accepted the empire, and that of Shevchenko, who challenged it.

Maja Kleczewska, Żenia Doliak The Postcolonial Condition, the Decolonial Option, and the Post-socialist Intervention 155

A record of a conversation concerning the theatre in war-time, during the process of decolonisation, and the staging of Dziady by Adam Mickiewicz, directed by Maja Kleczewska at the Ivan Franko National Academic Theater in Ivano-Frankivsk (2023). The conversation took place on 19 October at Teatr Polski in Bydgoszcz as part of the Premiere Festival.

The Decolonial Option
Madina Tłostanowa The Postcolonial Condition, the Decolonial Option, and the Post-socialist Intervention 159

Postcoloniality should be regarded as a human condition, an existential situation, whereas decoloniality is an option, consciously chosen as a political, ethical, and epistemic positionality. Such an unconventional understanding of the terms “postcolonial” and “decolonial” allows to transcend the long-going rivalry and geopolitical divisions between the postcolonial studies and the decolonial option through the medium of the post-socialist and post-dependence optics and discourses. The post-socialist intervention launches a number of concepts necessary for the analysis of the post-socialist / postcolonial intersections. Among them, the imperial difference; the geopolitics and corpopolitics of knowledge, being, gender, and sensing; decolonial aesthesis; and the reversal of temporal directions in the post-Soviet context. Postcolonial discourse needs to be contextualized and eventually radicalized. It means a shift from the explanation of the other in the language understandable by the same to delinking from the rhetoric of modernity with its hidden colonial logic and tracing other genealogies of knowledge and activism and other ways of interpreting modernity/coloniality.

After Bucha
Kateryna Jakowłenko Eye Witnessing the Russian War in Ukraine: Loss and the Arts 166

While describing the first months of the full-scale Russian war in Ukraine the presented article considers the materiality of art during wartime: the destruction and appropriation of cultural heritage and infrastructure, the risk of being involved in violent operations and losing a life. Furthermore, the essay problematizes the value and symbolism of objects and art and deals with artworks as a strategy of intellectual and historical resistance.

Jacek Leociak Looking at Bucha. Holocaust Researcher on Visual Testimonies of Contemporary Genocide 173

about Visual Testimonies of Contemporary Genocide The massacre of civilians perpetrated by the Russians in Bucha is a point of departure for reflections dealing with textual and visual testimonies of collective violence, acts of genocide, and, predominantly, the Holocaust. The author ponders on selected examples of individual violence and extermination undertakings in assorted historical and political circumstances (from crimes committed against prisoners of war during the American Civil War, lynching, the Holocaust, the war in Syria, and Russian war crimes perpetrated in Ukraine). The differentiation of the historical-political context is accompanied by the diversity of communication media recording and transmitting borderline experiences involving victims: from written testimonies to Internet blogs and Facebook posts, from drawings and photographs published in the press to professional documentary films screened in courtrooms in the course of trials of criminals and in cinemas during special film projections, as well as private photographs and forms obtained with cell phones and put on the Internet. Alongside the variability of historical facts and the media there still remains the unchanging core of all those testimonies: first, the compelling need, an outright injunction, to create them; secondly – fundamental similarity, i.e. a foundation shared by all such testimonies: mortal fear, horror, dread, a feeling of being abandoned, and vulnerability. The author concentrated predominantly on the character of visual communication, the phenomenon of cruelty and violence photography as well as their impact upon the recipient.

Tomasz Szerszeń To Suffer 182

Does to look mean to suffer? And do images cause suffering, can they be cruel? With the question posed by Judith Butler: “Does the photograph continue the event into the future?” as his point of departure the author ponders on images of the war taking place in Ukraine, their ability to mobilise but also to transfer violence and trauma, and to wound. The strange duration of a traumatic scene signifies a return to the same: the process of mourning thus remains not closed and constantly evades attempts at capturing suffering within frames.

Magda Szpecht Street Cemeteries 187

Since 24 th February, when Russia commenced an unprovoked broadscale invasion of Ukraine, Mariupol suffered more than any other big city in the country. A significant part of Mariupol has been razed to the ground with bombs, rockets, missiles, and shells. Russian attacks impeded evacuation and for weeks tens of thousands of people sought shelter in basements and ruins without electricity or running water. The total number of fatalities in Mariupol, once a prosperous city of over 400 000 inhabitants, is not known. According to the mayor, it may amount to as many as 20000–40000. During the Russian occupation inhabitants have been forced to bury the bodies of their murdered relatives in yards, curtilages, playgrounds, and squares, since it was too dangerous for burials to take place in the city itself initially due to constant barrage and, later, street warfare. A certain funeral parlour displayed makeshift wooden caskets available to anyone and free of charge. In these tragic circumstances, public space in Mariupol appeared among ruins of obliterated city graves. Due to the fact that the Russians cover up traces of their crimes the inhabitants of Mariupol have been photographing all proofs of extermination. Many photos and videos are publicly available on the “Mariupol Now” Telegram channel. This is where I came upon the first photos of home graves; soon, I noticed on the Bellingcat Discord server an announcement demanding that burial sites be marked, so that families returning to Mariupol after the war could find their relatives. By basing ourselves on photos we commenced geolocating those spots where the inhabitants of Mariupol were forced to bury their dead.

Framing Violence and Helplessness
Katarzyna Bojarska War. The Female Gaze 192

The author theorizes female gaze in relation to atrocity photography, especially war photography. In order to do so she revisits Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas and discusses the use of photography in an anti-war narrative. 

Agnieszka Dauksza Across and Along. Insignificant People in an Act of Discord 199

The author presents a category of insignificant people whom she conceives to be those who remain in the background, are undistinguished and meaningless as individuals in public order – they constitute “the majority”, and are of little significance in daily life. They remain immersed and entangled in reality upon which they have little impact. They do not feel responsible for the course of events and do not possess of feeling of self-manoeuvrability. The author writes about cultural transformation, the process of individuals distancing themselves from the oppressive model of success, social mobility, and perpetration conceived as planned, determined activity focused on a given target. Scenarios realised in contemporary culture texts focus on the refusal of proactive activity, forms of non-adaptation, and the inability to deal with “life and all its details.” The main theme is mediocrity, daily life that one has to tackle unheroically and without greater chances for success. The “typical” protagonist also undergoes changes and turns into those who “failed”, are weak, do not measure up, are incapable and constantly taken by surprise by something. Within this context the author analyses several “strange” performances of helplessness: acts of grovelling, crawling, swimming, and remaining motionless in public places.

Maria Reimann (1982–2023)
Łukasz Mikołajewski The Voice of Maria Reimann. On the Role of the Personal in Scientific Texts 204

The essay reflects on the role of personal voice and autobiographical experiences in the scientific texts of Maria Reimann, anthropologist and translator (died in 2023). Mingling personal recollections of his friendship and collaboration with Maria Reimann with a more theoretical analysis of her autoethnographic texts the author presents various aspects of our possible understanding of the concepts of “personhood” and “the personal” and their conceivable role in contemporary science. He also reconstructs ethical, political, and metaphysical justifications for including Reimann’s personal perspective in her autoethnographic writings on the experience of disability. Interpreting Reimann’s focus on narratives (rather than identities) through which people share their personal experiences the author links Reimann’s anthropology with approaches to storytelling and empathy outlined in the nonfiction of Jonathan Safran Foer, Rebecca Solnit, and Clarice Lispector.

Magdalena Radkowska-Walkowicz Dr Maria Reimann 1982–2023 215

Scientific reminiscence dedicated to Dr Maria Reimann.

Magdalena Radkowska-Walkowicz, Natalia Pamuła, Łukasz Mikołajewski, Ewa Maciejewska-Mroczek, Zofia Boni On the Anthropology of Maria Reimann. Anthropology of Childhood – Studies on Disabilities – Autoethnography 217

An extensive record of a conversation dedicated to the tragically deceased Dr Maria Reimann (1982–2023) and the research regions she traversed in her academic and writing practices (anthropology of childhood, disability studies, autoethnography). The conversation took place on 25 September 2023 at Pracownia Duży Pokój in Warsaw.

Justyna Chmielewska From Home to Mars. On Halil Altındere’s „Space Refugee” and „Homeland Projects” 225

The author examines two projects by Halil Altındere – one of leading Turkish visual artists. Both ventures originated in 2016, when Turkey severely experienced the effects of the “migration crisis” caused by, i.a. the escalation of war in neighbouring Syria. At the time, an unpreceded number of people sought refuge in Anatolia – some treated Turkey as a transit country, while others settled down on a permanent basis. At the time Halil Altındere embarked upon co-operation with two prominent members of the Syrian diaspora: Muhammad Ahmad Faris – the first Syrian cosmonaut, today a resident of Istanbul, whose story became the core of the Space Refugee project, and Mohammad Abu Hajar – an “angry young rapper” living in Berlin, with whom Halil Altındere recorded the Homeland video.

Both projects pertain in different ways to the question of the complexity of being a refugee – the author of the presented reflections relates to the book Migawki z tradycji uciśnionych, in which Paweł Mościcki examined the dialectic character of the experience of exile.

Paweł Próchniak The Gift of “in the Blink of an Eye.” Notes about Krzysztof Czyżewski’s Żegaryszki 234

A presentation of an interpretative insight into three supplementing cycles of Żegaryszki by Krzysztof Czyżewski. The text concerns both the cycles’ triptych structure and the key motifs linking particular cycles into a thematic and problem entity whose warp consists of meditative reflection on existence and illumination experiences written out in particular poems and photographs accompanying the latter. The author of the text embarks upon a motif, of importance for Żegaryszki, of poetic and photographic epiphanies of concrete places and the inclusion of those artistic forms into the real space of Krasnogruda. More, he signalizes the anthropological potential of Czyżewski’s records, particularly their spiritual dimension.

Urszula Janoszuk-Giergiel Making Space. The Daily Creative Praxis of Hanna Rechowicz 238

This text focuses on analysing and interpreting Hanna Rechowicz’s daily creative praxis – making space – by using a partially structured anthropological interview and visual ethnography, as well as theories selected according to the Mieke Bal method of cultural analysis. By deriving analysis and description categories from experiencing participation in the artist’s creative process the author deals successively with stages in Rechowicz’s creative praxis: touch, giving, seeking place, and departure. While analysing this praxis as a whole the author concludes that it is feminine, an experiment, fun, and rebellion, and essentially consists of operating with relations.

Szymon Wróbel Paweł Althamer’s and Artur Żmijewski’s Non-final Paintings 250

The presented text is a free interpretation of 32 montages “created” during the summer stay of Paweł Althamer and Artur Żmijewski at the Jan Tarasin Art Gallery in Kalisz. The author describes the discussed series of collages as “(non-)final Images” and proposes a thesis that the “assembly machine” called “Althamer-Żmijewski” successfully, but also perversely, combines work on two tables. One is a “dissection table” (table d’opération), on which the lexicon and encyclopaedia of the modern world are born. This is the “autopsy table” of our world. The second table allows us to see the image-montage at the moment of birth. The “midwife of life” works at this table, permitting us to track the birth of thoughts and the contractions of reality, i.e. images as they emerge. The midwife’s table is not a dissecting table but a “delivery table” (table d’accouchement). The two machines are friends just like Eros and Thanatos, life and death. However, one and the same process – the unravelling and re-stitching of the world – takes place at both tables.

Danuta Benedyktowicz My Husband Makes Such Beautiful Jews! 261

Redefining and reaching for ethnographic museum collections as well as private collections results in presenting them in assorted contemporary perspectives and cultural contexts. The archive of the Editorial Board of “Konteksty” at the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences contains a sizeable collection of personal files of folk artists, amassed since 1950. The artists in question died several decades ago. The presented text evokes several artists “enclosed” in archival files and featured at contemporary exhibitions: Józef Lurka, Katarzyna Gawłowa, Jadwiga Budzisz-Buynowska, and Adam Zegadło.

Jacek Jan Pawlik Marc Augé 1935–2023, Anthropologist of Contemporary Non-places 266

The author of this article focuses his reflections on Augé's theoretical work charting the originality of the latter’s thought and the development of his interests. With Africa as a point of departure Augé abandoned the Marxist approach typical of the French milieu of the period so as to develop an original concept drawing on both the structuralism of Claude Lévi-Strauss and the dynamic anthropology of Georges Balandier. Over time, Augé left Africa and, after studying Parisian everyday life, undertook an analysis of the process of globalization by adopting the theoretical framework developed during his African studies. Over time, he resorted increasingly to ethno-fiction and autoethnology, without shying away from writing novels. Augé has often commented on the role and responsibility of anthropology in today's world. It is not enough to respect people of all cultures - one must analyse what lies behind the words “culture” or “identity” and not lose the critical spirit.

Contact us

Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences
Konteksty. Polska sztuka ludowa

28 Długa st.,
00-950 Warsaw, P.O. Box 999

phone. (0048-22) 50 48 243
phone/fax. / fax. (0048-22) 50 48 296


For details check: or:

Konteksty are also available in the Central and Eastern European Online Library (CEEOL) on:



© Kwartalnik Konteksty