Shelter

Installation. Video, series of 6 objects, concrete, 2013

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. The main object in the video 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.

The documentary video is 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 mins, 2012



    
"Sheter" ("Politics of form", Museum for contemporary art Leipzig, 2015. Photo: Michael Ritzmann).

    
"Shelter" ("Monument to a monument", National Pavillion of Ukraine at the
55th Venice biennial for contemporary art. Palazzo Loredan - Istituto Veneto di Scienze, 2013)