World-famous exhibition about Holodomor-33 opens in Kyiv

 

History, Special projects, Ukraine

Article by: Andriy Dubchak
Translated by: Christine Chraibi

“Maria” – a visual exhibition created by Ukrainian-Canadian artist Lesia Maruschak – was opened at the Holodomor Museum in Kyiv on November 20, 2020. This world-famous exhibition on the Holodomor genocide has been presented in over nine countries and is now being displayed in Ukraine for the first time.

The exhibition will be open from November 20, 2020, to March 31, 2021. 

The exhibition is centred on the image of a young girl named Maria, who, unlike many victims in Ukraine, survived the man-made famine launched by Stalin. Photo: Andriy Dubchak, Radio Svoboda.org (RFE/RL)

“Maria” is a mobile memorial space that sustains the memory of the victims of the Holodomor of 1932-1933 and contributes to dialogue on social justice and human rights. At the centre of the exhibition is the image of a young girl, Maria, who, despite Stalin’s ruthless policies, survived the famine, unlike millions of other victims of the Soviet genocide in Ukraine.

Photo: Andriy Dubchak, Radio Svoboda.org (RFE/RL)

One of the many Books of Memory listing the villages and names of victims of the Holodomor. Photo: Andriy Dubchak, Radio Svoboda.org (RFE/RL)

One of the many Books of Memory listing the villages and names of victims of the Holodomor. Photo: Andriy Dubchak, Radio Svoboda.org (RFE/RL)

Editor’s Note

The Holodomor was both political and intentional – a state-sponsored program targeting a single ethnic group as part of the Soviet Union’s new socio-economic model that required the subjugation of a sizable population whose national consciousness stood in the way of the new order. At its centre is the single image of a young girl, Maria F., who survived and emigrated to Canada. According to various estimates, the Holodomor of 1932-33 killed between 3.9 and 7 million people.

The project was created and designed by Lesia Maruschak, a curator, photographer and visual artist living in Ottawa, Canada. The artist’s works convey an emotional and rational response to this atrocity, constructed on the basis of a study of the stories of Holodomor survivors.

“Produced across platforms, including books, installations, textile sculptures, performance, lectures and film, the project manifests my intellectual and emotional response, informed by current research and the survivors’ stories I read witness testimonies including that of Tetiana. She recalled that her sister, “had a large, swollen stomach, and her neck was long and thin like a bird’s neck. People didn’t look like people — they were more like starving ghosts.” These accounts made such an impression on my young mind and I’ve carried them with me throughout my entire life as I searched for my identity as a Canadian of Ukrainian descent.” says artist Lesia Marunchak.

Photo: Andriy Dubchak, Radio Svoboda.org (RFE/RL)

Photo: Andriy Dubchak, Radio Svoboda.org (RFE/RL)

Photo: Andriy Dubchak, Radio Svoboda.org (RFE/RL)

Photo: Andriy Dubchak, Radio Svoboda.org (RFE/RL)

Editor’s Note

Lesia Maruschak is a research-based artist, whose work examines memory and identity, using sensuality and visuality to awaken deep emotions. Her work has been featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in new York, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, the Boston Athenaeum, Stanford University, Columbia University, and the Library of Congress.

The book “Maria,” which is based on the exhibition, was shortlisted for the Book Awards at the Rencontres d’Arles in France (2019) and won the award for best design at the International Book Arsenal Festival in Kyiv (2019).

The exhibition was made possible by the International Coordinating Committee for Holodomor Awareness and Recognition of the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC), which works with the international community to have the Holodomor of 1932-33 formally recognized as genocide, counter misinformation, and raise awareness about the Holodomor around the world.

The sign reads: “It is difficult to subdue a small owner or a small speculator. They can’t be liquidated in one year. Many long years are required for their total annihilation.” Lenin, Vol.8, p.198. Photo: Andriy Dubchak, Radio Svoboda.org (RFE/RL)

One of several directives by Stalin aimed at liquidating Ukrainian peasants. Photo: Andriy Dubchak, Radio Svoboda.org (RFE/RL)

Photo: Andriy Dubchak, Radio Svoboda.org (RFE/RL)

Photo: Andriy Dubchak, Radio Svoboda.org (RFE/RL)

Translated by: Christine Chraibi

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