BY Nikita Kadan in Features | 04 JAN 23
Featured in
Issue 232

The Contradictions of Europe’s Support for Ukraine

Nikita Kadan reflects on what it has meant to exhibit in the EU since the Russian invasion

BY Nikita Kadan in Features | 04 JAN 23

Since 24 February 2022, I have continued to live and work in Kyiv, taking occasional trips to exhibitions in other countries. For these trips, I receive permits from the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine. Sirens, power outages and several missile strikes in my neighbourhood and near my studio have accompanied my work these months. Travelling abroad, I often have a strong feeling of guilt. In the park below my house, wounded soldiers from the nearby hospital take walks, many of them without limbs. At cultural events in Europe and the United States, I often feel lost and don’t know what to say. Sometimes, it seems we are crushed by the experience of this war. Knowing that some European countries continue to purchase Russian gas prompts a strange feeling in me.

Nikita Kadan, Private Sun, 2022, steel, glass tube, neon lighting element, paint, 185 × 140 × 20 cm. Courtesy: the artist and François Ghebaly Gallery

In state-funded museums throughout the continent, I feel as if I am visiting those who, despite voicing support for our cause, are sponsoring the very destruction of my people and me. These institutions seem to think that paying attention to Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian artists compensates for their inability to save the lives of the Ukrainian people. At some point, I began to define the direction of my current work as charting a ‘poetics of material evidence’. I’m interested in the experience of matter: melting glass, blasted metal from rooftops, wood penetrated by shrapnel, bones and viscera mixed with chipped concrete. Matter retains knowledge. Someday, we’ll be able to read it, and then we will know the scale of what happened.

Nikita Kadan's 'The Fire and the Ashes' is on view at the MSL museum, Lodz until March 12, 2023.

This article first appeared in frieze issue 232 as part of a dossier with the headline ‘Forms of Resistance’.

Main image: Nikita Kadan, ‘The Movable Circle’, 2022, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and Romanian Creative Week

Nikita Kadan is an artist based in Kyiv, Ukraine.