The third year of the war formed certain types of narratives in media - about new heroes and those who suffered from the military operations the most. Once the images of these people disappear from the news feeds and TV screens, the human dimension of history vanishes, and state interests and ritual figures of speech of political discourse step forward and take its place. Stories of pain and onerous personal experience remain a burden for the people who became heroes only for one media day, or have never come in the spotlight because they don't correspond to the idea of "success story".
Apart from media dimension, these everyday experiences of the war and those who have returned from it (or live not far from it) exist in oral stories, private space within families, sometimes - in group discussions, social projects, where different feelings, memories, and positions of participants could be voiced. But private space is not enough so that important issues haven't disappeared and haven't been superseded by the dominant narrative about the war. This could be prevented by collecting and comprehension of "ordinary" experiences of different communities and individuals, in particular - using artistic practices that are able to absorb all the different (even contradictory) positions. Thus, the "Points of approaching" project is dedicated to overcoming the distance between those who hear and those who talk.
Combining different points of view, based on "different approaches" of artists, journalists, cultural managers, participants from different Ukrainian regions and from abroad, the project aims to become closer to the understanding of vulnerable communities' experience, and using art as a medium, make it a part of wider audience's experience. The project focuses on Dnipro and Kharkiv, the cities, where the largest volunteer initiatives, military treatment centers, and organizations helping internally displaced people are situated, moreover, they are two regional centers that are closest to the front line.
The purpose of the project - to actualize and open to a wider audience the experience of communities that are the most vulnerable because of the war, among them - internally displaced people for whom Dnieper and Kharkiv became places of permanent or temporary residence; ATO participants and veterans, often left without proper psychological care and social support; volunteers, whose need for psychological and even physical rehabilitation may be no less than veterans' need; both cities' residents, being the least institutionalized group, usually also find themselves out of public dialogue.
Artists from Georgia and Moldova joined the project, taking into account the fact that these countries have much in common with Ukraine in terms of appearance and the nature of the military conflict. However, the rapid deterioration of the situation in South Ossetia in 2008 or frozen conflict in Transnistria, which runs from 1992 show that war can change society in many different ways, people in different postwar countries transform their memories in their own way. This experience is very important and valuable, that is why we invited partners from these two countries who can share their experiences and work with the target audience of our project.
During the first phase, 24 artists, journalists and cultural managers selected throght the open call from different Ukrainian cities (Kyiv, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia), Moldova and Georgia took part in the residences in Kharkiv (December 3-7, 12 participants) and Dnipro (December 10-14, 12 participants) in order to become familiar with the local context of two closest to the frontline regional centers. In each city, four working groups were created to focus on and discuss different aspects of local context during residences’ meetings: representatives of local volunteer community that helps to ATO veterans, ATO veterans themselves, psychologists who work with militants; representatives of local volunteer community that helps to internally displaced persons, IDP themselves; representatives of local media, newspapers, online magazines, TV channels; representatives of local cultural milieu, who work on the issues of the war and IDP problematics.
The journalists produced articles for Korydor online-magazine about how society needs time to rethink its history and the ways it may represent the collective work of memory in public space; the problems of displaced people, participatory projects helping communities to understand and accept “the other”; theory and history of PTSD, practices of social adaptation and the phenomenon of burnout among volunteers and the correlation between ideology, patriotism and music.
“Alienated Story”, Yuliia Kosterieva (Ukraine). The project was based on a story of a couple of displaced from Pervomaisk, who spent 45 days under fire living in the basement of their house.It explores how our perception and interpretation of the story depend on the media and form it was embodied in (journalist article, novel, video, paintings, audiorecord etc.)
“Abchazia my Pain”, Mariam Natroshvili and Detu Jintcharadze (Georgia). It is urban video poem dedicated to the conditions (temporary houses) displaced during the war in Abkhazia (1992-1993) people still live today, more than 10 years after the migration.
“Do/Not bothers”, Nataliia Tseliuba (Ukraine). The installation investigates the “gray zone” of people’s thoughts, where the line between “good” and “bad” no longer exists, where a person fails to answer the questions about his or her duties and responsibilities during the time that the country involved in the war
“Knots”, Serhii Popov (Ukraine). The installation reflects on the influence that complicated and “knotty” international relationships cause on people’s lives, especially when there is a war that rushes in them.
“Not just a game”, Oksana Chepelyk (Ukraine). Video interviews, photos and movie tell us personal stories of the members of Dnipro sitting volleyball team and about the game that could provide not only physical but also psychological rehabilitation.
The sixth art project created after the residence was a performance “Total Remix - Kharkiv” of Lucia Macari (born in Moldova, lives and works in The Netherlands): investigating patriotic military and revolutionary music and songs of different times and countries, the performance itself and the public discussion it was preceded by, reflected on the connection between military music and ideology, art and propaganda.
Public programme consisted of the discussion and musical performance - in Kharkiv and “Rosarium” theatre play - in Dnipro. Final public presentation of the project’ results and discussion of the role and challenges of art and culture in times of war with culture, history and psychology experts (Kyiv).
The project was supported by The Black Sea Trust, A Project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.