Shelter

Installation. Two one-channel videos, concrete sculptures (6 in the series)
2012 - 2013

This work consist of three corresponding elements: two short films and a series of sculptures. The main object in the short film Shelter is an underground shelter repurposed for a kind of school that delivers pre-service training. The main character, an elderly teacher, also an archetype of Soviet ideology, does not seem to care about the contemporary political situation, instead opting to stay true to his own principles that have been inculcated into him through military service. His students could care less about the patriotism promoted in the schoolbooks from their teenage years; instead, they reserve their passions for the shooting ranges, inspired by computer games and Hollywood action movies. During the Cold war the political propaganda of the USSR and US produced a social phobia connected to the threat of nuclear war and the cult of defense. In modern Ukraine, many fallout shelters from the past have since been sealed. A few have been converted to serve new functions, adapted to different needs through individual creativity, spurred on by an overall lack of facilities. 

For the short film Father's story Ridnyi asked his father to make a video tour of the cellar beneath the rural house in which his family used to live. A voiceover features Ridnyi’s father describing objects in the dark cellar such as jars with homemade vegetable preserves, glasses for moonshine, old newspapers with pictures of Lenin and the proletariat, all of which surface old memories about his parents and nostalgia for a Soviet childhood.

Two films are accompanied by a series of objects: architectural models of hidden spaces constructed as shelters in the Soviet era. In this context, structures from the built environment are transformed into concrete sculptural forms. This complex of works made in 2012-2013 featuring shelter as both a relic and a phenomena acquired new meaning in 2014. Upon the invasion of East Ukraine many shelters were converted back into their original function; many high-school graduates were drafted into the army, while others joined volunteer military battalions.


   
  
"Shelter", stills from video, 6:13 min., 2012


  
"Father's Story", stills from video, 03:34 min., 2012



 
"Sheter" ("Politics of form", Museum for contemporary art Leipzig, 2015. Photo: Michael Ritzmann).
"Shelter" (National Pavillion of Ukraine at the 55th Venice biennial for contemporary art, 2013)
 
"Father's Story" (Visual culture research center, Kyiv, 2014. Photo: Oleksandr Burlaka)