‘Women at War’ curated by Monika Fabijanska to Open at Fridman Gallery NYC in Collaboration with Voloshyn Gallery, Kyiv, Ukraine




Dana Kavelina, a still from Letter to a Turtledove, 2020, film, 20:55 min. ©Dana Kavelina. Courtesy of the artist.

Fridman Gallery (NYC) and Voloshyn Gallery (Kyiv, Ukraine) are honored to present Women at War, curated by Monika Fabijanska.  This group exhibition features works by a selection of the leading contemporary women artists working in Ukraine, and provides context for the current war, as represented in art across media. Several works in the exhibition were made after February 24, 2022, when Russia began full-scale invasion; others date from the eight years of war following the annexation of Crimea and the creation of separatist “republics” in Donbas in 2014.

War is central to history. History has been written (and painted) by men. This exhibition provides a platform for female narrators of history and examines the perception of war as gendered. Women are generally absent from the historical accounts of war, but violating a woman is seen as a violation of land and nation. Media images reinforce the perception of gender divide. But is war indeed gendered? Women comprise c. 25% of Ukrainian armed forces. Russian soldiers rape Ukrainian civilians of all genders, including adult men. Many artists in this exhibition struggle with the notion of victimhood and pose the question in what way women have agency during war.

The exhibition also serves as a gateway to Ukrainian and other Eastern European feminisms, which are significantly different from the Western mold. Finally, Women at War will contribute to a conversation about how national identity is tied to the perception of women’s role in society. There are parallels between the fight for Ukraine’s independence and the fight for its women’s equality. They stem from the paradoxes of the Soviet Union, where early modernist, anti-nationalist, and feminist promises remained but a fig leaf of propaganda in the brutal and misogynist patriarchal empire it became.

Ukrainian art of the 2010s was largely focused on the discussion of whether Ukrainian identity should draw directly upon the short period of pre-Soviet independence or include the legacy of the Ukrainian SSR. This, in the country burdened with its colonial past, the unimaginable wounds of the 20th century (Holodomor, two world wars, the Holocaust), and the reality of a crisis, led to a national fixation on history. The young generation of artists focused their attention on historiography – how history is written, who writes it, who and what remains invisible. Soviet painting, especially the interpretations of WWII, came into focus of many artists. Others organized around the critique of decommunization – the destruction of Soviet monuments and mosaics in Donbas spearheaded by the post-Maidan government – and turned towards the forgotten pages of history.

Participating artists:

Yevgenia Belorusets ~ Oksana Chepelyk ~ Olia Fedorova ~ Alena Grom ~ Zhanna Kadyrova ~ Alevtina Kakhidze ~ Dana Kavelina ~ Lesia Khomenko ~ Vlada Ralko ~ Anna Scherbyna ~ Kateryna Yermolaeva ~ and Alla Horska (1929–70)

This exhibition is a collaboration among Voloshyn Gallery, www.voloshyngallery.art, a prominent art gallery in Kyiv, currently operating from Miami, FL; Fridman Gallery in NYC; and curator Monika Fabijanska. During the last three months, we have been working together to bring to New York the art of these outstanding artists, many of whom stayed in Ukraine, while some found temporary refuge in the West. Several of the works presented in Women at War were featured in museum exhibitions and biennials internationally.

Women at War curated by Monika Fabijanska will be on view from July 6 to August 26, 2022 at Fridman Gallery, 169 Bowery, NYC. Opening Reception to be held on July 6th from 6-8pm; Curatorial Walkthrough will be held on July 7th at 6pm.

Conversation with the Artist (Virtual) on Wednesday, July 13th from 1:00 to 2:15pm with curator Monika Fabijanska for a conversation with artists Dana Javelina and Olia Federova. Zoom Link Here.

Screening of Alexander Dovzhenko’s Zemlya (1930) (in person). Wednesday, July 20th at 8:00pm. Screening of the masterpiece silent film by Ukrainian director Alexander Dovzhenko, with a soundtrack by DakhaBrakha, a world-music quartet from Kyiv, co-presented with Locus29.

Conversation with the Artists (Virtual) on Wednesday, July 27th from 1:00 to 2:15pm. Join curator Monika Fabijanska for a conversation with artists Lesia
, Anna Scherbyna, and special guest – Ksenia Nouril, the Jensen Bryan Curator at The Print Center.  Zoom Link Here.