From September 8 to October 8, 2023, the Munich Documentation Center will show an installation of recent works by the artist Zhanna Kadyrova (b. 1981 in Brovary, Ukraine). She created the works as a direct reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They are metaphors for a brutal war in which the civilian population in particular is being targeted by military force. The motif of losing one’s home forms the starting point for the exhibition. The war in Ukraine set in motion the largest move-ment of refugees in Europe since World War II. Around a third of the Uk-rainian population have fled their homes.
When Russian troops began advancing toward Kyiv in February 2022, Zhanna Kadyrova herself had to seek refuge in the western part of the country from one day to the next. She has created the works assembled for the exhibitionsince then. They highlight how the war is destroying people’s material livelihoods as well as their sense of security or future. But they also show that the effects of the war are not limited to the lives of people in Ukraine. It also threatens the whole of Europe and is having a global impact as well. Zhanna Kadyrova‘s works demonstrate in an impressive way how art can be a form of civil resistance. They are an expression of the resilience and solidarity shown by Ukrainians in the face of the brutal and unrelenting Russian war of aggression.
For her sculptures Zhanna Kadyrova often uses found materials and scraps – in earlier projects, for instance, building rubble from the Soviet era, or currently for Palianytsia stones from a river bed in Transcarpathia. She works those finds into elaborate objects, with which she creates symbolically charged, highly aesthetic compositions and installations. The resulting works of art are full of ideological, historical, and political references. They are open to manifold interpretations and yet their artistic vocabulary is always clear and easy to comprehend.
Kadyrova often works with other artists and activists, endowing her work with collaborative and collective components. In a certain sense one even becomes part of the artistic process as a purchaser or viewer, as for example in the projects Palianytsia and Russian Rocket, whose proceeds will support Ukrainian aid organizations.
Zhanna Kadyrova was born in Brovary, near Kyiv, in 1981. She is currently one of Ukraine’s most popular artists. She has continued to work uninterrupted despite the war. Her work embraces several different disciplines, including sculpture, photography, video, and performance art as well as sitespecific installations and projects in public space. She plays with the aesthetic traditions of art history, political art, propaganda, and everyday and pop culture. Kadyrova is a founding member of the artists‘ group R.E.P. Revolutionary Experimental Space, established during the “Orange Revolution“ in 2004. A central theme of her early work is the historical legacy of the Soviet Union. She cleverly deconstructs the ideological claims of the Soviet era and explores their impact on current social, economic, and political conditions.
Her works have been shown in solo and group exhibitions all over the world. In 2013, 2015, 2019, and 2022 she participated in the Biennale di Venezia. This year the Kunstverein Hannover and the PinchukArtCenter in Kyiv have devoted major retrospectives to her. Zhanna Kadyrova has won several awards for her work, including the Kazimir Malevich Artist Award in 2012 and the main prize of the PinchukArtCenter in 2013 as well as its Future Generation International Special Prize in 2014.