Zhanna Kadyrova – Material Evidence

Ukrainian art

On 11 June at 12pm the exhibition Zhanna Kadyrova – Material Evidence will opened at Stavanger Art Museum.

The exhibition shows several brand-new artworks by the artist Zhanna Kadyrova. Several of the works were created after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February this year. The sculpture series Palianytsia has a central position in the exhibition and consists of a collection of sliced stones, reminiscent of bread. The stones were collected from one of the rivers outside the village of Berezovo, in western Ukraine. Zhanna Kadyrova sought refuge here with her co-author Denis Ruban after the war broke out. Protected by the Carpathian Mountains and devoid of any strategic military targets, the town sheltered many people fleeing the war.

The word Palianytsia means bread and refers to a special type of round, oven baked bread that symbolizes hospitality for many Ukrainians. Leading up to the Russian invasion the word also gained another function. Since it is pronounced differently in Russian it was used to expose Russian spies. It became a shibboleth—a way to separate friend from foe.

The exhibition relates to different epochs of Ukrainian history. Zhanna Kadyrova often uses materials and techniques that draw on the architecture of the Soviet era, such as concrete, ceramic tiles, and mosaics. Many of the works consist of reused materials imbued with a new meaning, while at the same time carrying with them traces of history.

In the project Second Hand, Kadyrova examines old buildings that have taken on new functions or been abandoned. The exhibition includes an installation with sculptures of clothing made from ceramic tiles. The reused tiles are collected from the now decommissioned silk factory Darnitsky in Kyiv, which was one of the great textile production units during the Soviet Union. The tiles were removed before the factory was remodelled and the original patterns are preserved in the sculptures. A series of photographs show different iterations of the project, where the sculptures have been placed in the original contexts of the tiles.

Zhanna Kadyrova (b. 1981, Brovary) is one of Ukraine’s most acclaimed young artists. She has become notable internationally through her sculptures, installations, and performance work that examines and sheds light on different social and political structures. She has exhibited three times at the renowned Venice Biennale (2013, 2015 and 2019) and presented the project Palianytsia at an exhibition that ran in conjunction with this year’s Venice Biennale. Kadyrova is also a part of the artist group Revolutionary Experimental Space (R.E.P.), which was formed during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004.

The exhibition was initiated and produced during the spring of 2022 in close collaboration with the artist and Galeria Continua. Through this exhibition Stavanger Art Museum aims to provide a space for a distinct Ukrainian artistic and political voice, as well as creating a meeting place where the public can share thoughts and experiences around the current situation in Ukraine.