Darja Lukjanenko: Irij
Opening 7th March 2022 at 6 pm
8. 3. − 19. 4. 2023
curator: Lenka Sýkorová
photo: Markéta Bendová
video: Tereza Havlínková
In the spring of 2022, Ukrainian artist Darja Lukjanenko started artistic research on the topic of an everyday activity, namely baking bread. Bread as an important food is also very symbolic in the context of commemorating the famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine. At the same time that Darya launched her research, Russian soldiers began smuggling grain on a large scale and began destroying its warehouses in Ukraine. As if history was repeating itself with another genocide of the Ukrainian nation. The return to the tradition of baking bread, which was passed down from generation to generation in families, became the central theme for the exhibition in Altán Klamovka in the context of a revision of the present.
In the Altán Klamovka Gallery Darja brings to life the mythical place Вирий/Irij, where, according to legend, birds spend the winter together with the souls of ancestors. In the spring, according to legend, they are transformed into birds returning home to bless the harvest and the family. That is why Ukrainians have traditionally prepared bread in the form of birds since pre-Christian times. Darja consciously works with this tradition and shared past, which she brings into the present. She searches for almost forgotten Slavic customs and thus connects the past with the future of the Ukrainian nation and in Altán Klamovka reconstructs objects from bread in the shape of birds, messengers of spring. At the same time, we can also see an embroidery by her sister Sasha Lukjanenko, which confirms the carrying on of the family tradition, which is so important for the future. By reviving tradition against the background of identity reconstruction, she visually tells an old pagan ritual of welcoming spring. Burnt wheat evokes not only the past harvest, but also Russian violence in Ukraine. And planting a seed of hope for the whole country, which will rise again. Turning to roots and lost worlds thus gives us hope to overcome dark times and find hope and blessings for the future.
The research of the lost recipe of ancient Ukrainian bread through the prism of colonization, Russification, Sovietization processes and the family story of political deportation presents Darja Lukjanenko an artistic and spiritual medium. Bread becomes a work of art and also a symbol of the national liberation movement and resistance. Baking bread itself is a performance. Darja presents fragments of a recipe from her great-grandmother Darja and thus created a series of recipes, instructions and texts depicted on a textile installation. The project introduces viewers to history, where bread is full of blood, sweat and tears. But the presence of bread is always comfort, love, joy and a living collective memory.
Darja Lukjanenko works as an interdisciplinary artist. It moves across performance, text and mixed media. She studied journalism in Ukraine and is now studying at Prague's UMPRUM. Her creative process is based on the practices of stimulating empathy, studying the position of non-humanism and discovering forms of relationships without domination. From 2022, she maps the processes of decolonization of Ukrainian culture and archives the Russian war in Ukrainian mythology.