To Watch the War: The Moving Image Amidst the Invasion of Ukraine (2014–2023)
(Design by Sean van den Steenhoven. Images: Yuriy Hrytsyna, Varta1, Lviv, Ukraine, 2015, video stills)
9 September–29 October 2023
Opening: 9 September 2023, 17–23 hrs.
A moving image forum with films and videos by Roman Himey & Yarema Malashchuk, Lisa Hoffmann, Yuriy Hrytsyna, Dana Kavelina, Oksana Kazmina, Myro Klochko & Anatoliy Tatarenko, Zoya Laktionova & Tetiana Kornieieva, Vasyl (Tkachenko) Lyakh, Sashko Protyah, Andriy Rachinsky & Daniil Revkovsky, Mykola Ridnyi, ruїns collective, Anna Scherbyna & Valentyna Petrova, Mariya Stoyanova, and Oleksandr Surovtsov.
Convened by Olexii Kuchanskyi and Oleksiy Radynski.
To Watch the War: The Moving Image Amidst the Invasion of Ukraine (2014–2023) is a moving image forum which takes place at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht from 9 September to 29 October 2023. It is convened from within the experimental film and video making that has emerged in direct response to the Russian war on Ukraine that began with Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and which continues to date as a full-scale invasion.
The forum assembles 19 experimental films and videos that employ various grassroots tactics and critical approaches to counter the simplistic-sensationalist imagery pushed by social and mass media that feasts on military technologies and propagandas of the renewed imperial politics. Against the grain of such mediatic loops, the forum offers much subtler, varied, and nuanced pathways to “watch the war” altogether differently. While experimentally documenting the war from the viewpoint of living (in) it, they simultaneously resist it by foregrounding not the destruction but the resilience and agency of human and other subjects that emerge in the face of this unjustifiable, protracted emergency.
The works are constellated around several key concerns, from documenting the major humanitarian crisis and frontline destruction of Donbas’s Mariupol during its lengthy siege; to analyzing labor conditions of precarious classes under the war regime that render this war principally rooted in a class struggle; to the warfare’s interlacing of genocide with ecocide; and to queer responses to war. In part a research archive and in part a fragmented cinema, the forum inquires not only into the relationship of image-making and war but also into the larger question of the place of art in such radically trying and unjust warfare conditions. As such, the forum can be viewed as a collective “retrospective” on the current era as much as a wager on the forensic reclamations of truth and justice ahead.
To Watch the War: The Moving Image Amidst the Invasion of Ukraine (2014–2023) involves a hybrid off- and online sequence of conversations and screenings with contributions by researcher and art historian Asia Bazdyrieva, filmmaker and activist Sashko Protyah, and documentary filmmaker and artist Oksana Kazmina, among others. Convened by Olexii Kuchanskyi, this public program takes place at BAK and online on 28 September, 12 October, and 26 October 2023, starting each time at 18 hrs CEST (preceded by a curator-led tour of the exhibition at 17 hrs). See here for full program.
To Watch the War: The Moving Image Amidst the Invasion of Ukraine (2014–2023) is conceptualized by researcher, film programmer, and writer Olexii Kuchanskyi and filmmaker Oleksiy Radynski. The exhibition and public program at BAK is convened in dialogue with the BAK team as a reconfigured and updated iteration of a project shown in 2022 at Coalmine – Raum für Fotografie, Winterhur
To Watch the War, in Solidarity
From November 2023 onward, the project extends to other institutions and public spaces across the city of Utrecht with the sequel titled To Watch the War, in Solidarity. Coinciding with yet another phase of renovations of BAK’s premises, these impromptu expositions remobilize the works from previous BAK projects into the present, including from Concerning War (2005, 2010), Former West (2008–2016), and Propositions for Non-Fascist Living (2017–ongoing).
Support Freefilmers: Join the Crowdfunding Campaign!
The project is accompanied with a crowdfunding campaign in support of FREEFILMERS—a diasporic cinemovement and NGO of filmmakers, artists, and activists working in solidarity with a broader network of grassroots humanitarian initiatives in the regions most afflicted by the war in Ukraine. Please join the campaign: the time is now!