Saber, Deer, and Spinning-Wheel

"Saber, Deer, and Spinning-Wheel" is an exhibition curated by the team of Ukrainian artists and historians:

Taras Bilous, Iryna Kudria, Olha Martynyuk, Valentina Petrova, Mykola Ridnyi, Anna Shcherbyna

in Stanychno-Luhanskyi Regional History Museum, UA


20.02 – 01.04. 2018

 

Stanychno-Luhanskyi Regional History Museum opened on September 1, 1988, with an exhibition dedicated to the 300th anniversary of Stanytsia Luhanska, the only settlement of Don Cossacks on the territory of Ukraine. A small satellite city was long known for its history of military service to Russian Empire and ample vegetable supplies to the neighboring regional center Luhansk. When an armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine broke out in 2014, the director of the museum abandoned it and fled to the Russia-controlled Luhansk People’s Republic. For the next couple years, the museum, located on a critical spot of the battlefield, served as a shelter for civilian population in times of bombardments.

In 2015, a missile hit and destroyed the roof of museum’s building. The roof was soon repaired, but the permanent exposition has never been restored. The staff moved the remaining objects into storage rooms without a good understanding how to bring them back.

A team of artists and historians collaborated with museum workers in an experiment on alternative forms of presenting local history. Rather than reproducing an old narrative about the Don Cossacks military might, it searched for new and no less important sides of the local history. The explications were discarded in favor of tags that visitors could use to offer their own understanding of history.

"Unique objects are exhibited in an unexpected way. They are displayed in the unfinished premises that are to become a museum back again. The artworks reflect on the complex relationship between nature, leisure, work, heroism, propaganda and violence in the human’s life and society. Contrary to the typical case when museums offer a ready-made perspective on historical events, here the visitors themselves interpret and construct history. For the post-war reconstruction also becomes a matter of the entire community.” (from the exhibition guide)

The exhibition was a part of the project "Museum Open for Repair," implemented with the support of the "Strengthening Public Trust" (UCВI II) and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).