A joint project by Clemens von Wedemeyer and Mykola Ridnyi
Curated by Dana Brezhneva and Mykola Ridnyi
Bakhmut Museum of Local History
A joint project by the artists Clemens von Wedemeyer and Mykola Ridnyi presents views on the events that happened during two periods of world and Ukrainian history – Second World War (1939–1945) and the Russian Civil War (1917–1923). Both projects are based on the experience and documentary artifacts connected with their family members that form the place for a reflexive view on the shared history. The main material in von Wedemeyer’s work is the amateur footage shot by his grandfather who was a Wehrmacht officer and filmed the advance of the German army. Ridnyi builds upon the court documents of his great-grandfather, the ataman involved with the anarchist movement defeated by the Bolsheviks.
Appearing in the works of both authors, the figure of a horse raises the issue of dehumanization of the war machine, which uses both animals and humans as biological material. Horses that were at war either as enslaved workers or coveted prey witnessed and participated in hostilities and war crimes that they would never be able to testify about. Deprived of human speech, these animals can only leave a message by the very fact of their presence, images and stories. Their endurance may inform us about different aspects of military logistics, their color and breed – about the status of their owners and their group alignment, their deaths – about the conditions and results of battles.
The city of Bakhmut (Artemivsk), which once suffered from the Nazi occupation, is now located near the front line of another war. After the local “separatist” unit has been defeated, life in this part of Donbas is considered “peaceful.” However, disturbing memories and conflicting pages of history that have left their mark on this place are still intertwined here. Artists aim at finding these traces, making the blind spots visible and the testimonies audible. The Bakhmut Museum of Local History has not only become a platform for this conversation but also opened the door to its archives. The temporary renovation in the museum turns its walls into a blank space, which is a unique moment for the realization of an artistic idea.
The project is organized with the support of Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung in Ukraine.
Photo: Natalka Diachenko
Graphic design: Uliana Bychenkova