A War in the Distance. Prologue
An Embattled Ukraine in Video Art and Film
1.7.–1.8.22, Neue Galerie Graz

Opening: 1.7.22
Artist talks and panel discussion: 13:00–18:30
Greetings, intervention and joint tour of the exhibition: 19:00

Neue Galerie Graz  ♿
8010 Graz

Tue–Sun 10:00–18:00
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Dana Kavelina, Letter to a Turtledove (2020), film still, courtesy of the artist

For time immemorial, the region of Styria has been surrounded by wars, many of them only heard echoing in the distance. This autumn, steirischer herbst addresses this looming presence of far-off battles. As a prologue to this edition, we turn to Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine—a conflict whose relevance and proximity are now finally impossible to ignore. In a special showing at Neue Galerie Graz, steirischer herbst presents historical and contemporary video art and films about the war in Ukraine. They offer a subjective, sobering, and human view of current events otherwise explained in military or geopolitical terms.

Today’s war appears as an implosion of an already tragic and violent Ukrainian Soviet history—whose filmic documents belong to the masterpieces of 20th-century avant-garde cinema. Contemporary artists in Ukraine draw upon this history, showing its violent reversal today as they reflect upon the war with Russia, ongoing since 2014 and repressed internationally until only recently. Socialist utopia and fascist mobilization appear as embattled notions from the past with which artists engage critically on their own aesthetic terms. At the same time, citizen journalism in times of intensified combat becomes a new form of anonymous activist filmmaking. Documentary films show the human dimension of how the war impacts depressed regions and the people who live there, revealing that there is a space for hope, heroism, and poetry in spite of the widespread destruction.

Participating artists include Pavel Brăila, Oleksandr Dovzhenko, Dana Kavelina, Zoya Laktionova, Kateryna Lysovenko, Mykola Ridnyi, and Philip Sotnychenko.

Curated by Mirela Baciak and David Riff

A War in the Distance: An Embattled Ukraine in Video Art and Film is a cooperation between steirischer herbst and Neue Galerie Graz / Universalmuseum Joanneum and functions as a prologue to steirischer herbst ’22.

On the occasion of the exhibition’s opening on 1 July, a daylong program features talks with the artists, as well as a panel discussion on the implications of the war from an Austrian perspective with journalist Herwig G. Höller, author Julya Rabinowich, and historian Peter Ruggenthaler.

→  Artist Talks and Panel Discussion