Mykola Ridnyi

Seacoast (2008)

Mykola Ridnyi’s video was filmed on the Black Sea coast in 2008—when only few would have predicted that the region would be engulfed in a brutal war of aggression. It shows a static horizon dotted with the figures of fishermen: a calm pictorial surface periodically punctured by jellyfish splattering on the ground.

The main association is the sound of bombs dropping, achieved with recordings of a jet plane. The video conveys the unsteadiness and relativity of peace and how quickly and easily military aggression can escalate. It responds to Russia’s unexpected assault on Georgia in 2008, purportedly to defend the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

This short war took place six years before the annexation of Crimea—and fourteen years before the all-out invasion of Ukraine. Today, it appears as a precise indication of the present war’s first appearance in the distance, transposed onto a summer idyll.

Mykola Ridnyi (1985, Kharkiv, Ukraine) is an artist, sculptor, filmmaker, and curator. His performances, installations, sculptures, and short films reflect the social and political realities of contemporary Ukraine. He cofounded the group SOSka in 2005, an art collective that has curated and organized numerous projects in Kharkiv. Since 2017, he has coedited the online magazine Prostory. His work has been shown in exhibitions and film festivals, including transmediale, Berlin (2019); the 35th Kassel Dokfest (2018); The Image of War at Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm (2017); All the World’s Futures at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015); The School of Kyiv—1st Kyiv Biennale (2015); and other venues.

SD video, stereo sound, 1′, in loop