Pictures, Video & Audio

Nikita Kadan & Jessica Zychowicz

Mutilated Myth / Скалічений Міф / Okaleczony Mit

In English language

Consisting of over twenty large-scale charcoal drawings and a new sculpture, the works by Nikita Kadan in the series Mutilated Myth, curated by Jessica Zychowicz, compel us to revisit the past in the context of our contemporary moment. The images in Mutilated Myth mark a breaking point in the psyche.

The now well-known photographs from the pogrom in Lviv 1941 of the violated, taken casually by their tormentors, reveal the cyclical and invisible nature of systemic violence by paring all contextual detail down to its nakedness and nothingness. Also featured are drawings by the author Bruno Schulz from the town of Drohobych and its surroundings where he lived and worked before the Second World War. We see in the faces throughout the series the risk of our own replication of these events: a crime in its shapelessness; an accusation that is yet still in-formation and thus pointed at anyone.

In the essay, The Mythologizing of Reality Schulz described reality as an unstable “shadow” effect produced by words. Here, illuminating the women from The Book of Idolatry (Xięga Bałwochwalcza) with the photographs from the Lviv pogrom, which have since become iconic for pain, it is almost as if the women here, despite their public abuse, have regained some of their former selves.

Jessica Zychowicz writes and researches in the areas of aesthetics, ethics, and history. She is the author of the monograph, Superfluous Women: Art, Feminism, and Revolution in Twenty-First Century Ukraine (University of Toronto Press, 2020). In 2017-2018 she taught visual ethnography as a Fulbright scholar hosted at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. She is currently based at the University of Alberta in Canada and has been a visiting scholar at the University of Toronto and at Uppsala University in Sweden. She has also participated in talks and residencies at the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators; the University of St. Andrews in Edinburgh; NYU's Center for European and Mediterranean Studies, and others. She earned her doctorate at the University of Michigan. For more information and publications:

The artistic repertoire of Ukrainian artist Nikita Kadan ranges from installation, graphic art, and painting to wall and poster design in public space. Just as diverse are his interdisciplinary collaborations with architects, activists for Human Rights Watch, and sociologists. In his latest exhibition Projects of Ruins in Vienna in 2019, he dealt with current socio-political developments in Ukraine and their foundations under Soviet communism. In a new series of charcoal drawings, he looks into, re-interprets and relates to Bruno Schulz' etchings from The Book of Idolatry and photographs of the Lviv pogrom from 1941.

The project "Art in a Conflicted World" is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.

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