top of page


The Battle Over Mazepa


4K video, 20 min

HD video, 6 min

Commissioned by Pushkin House, London and John Hansard Gallery, Southampton

Production: Kartago Film, Berlin


The Battle Over Mazepa conceptualises the historical significance and contemporary perception of Ivan Mazepa, a political and military leader of the Zaporizhian Sich and Left-bank Ukraine in the late-17th and early-18th century. Addressing codes of hip-hop culture, Ridnyi borrows the popular form of a rap battle to collide two great works of world literature associated with this historical figure: Mazeppa by Lord Byron in 1819 and Poltava by Alexander Pushkin in 1828–29. While Byron envisions Mazepa as a romantic hero, seized by love, Pushkin portrays him as a traitor in accordance with the colonial attitude of the Russian Empire. Highlighting the confrontation of these two texts, Ridnyi invited four rappers from different national and cultural backgrounds to write and perform their response to the poets’ lyrics. That resulted in the rap-battle composed in 6 rounds and additional video with performers’ interviews where they express a personal take on the projects context.

Installlation view:

“The Battle Over Mazepa”, John Hansard Gallery, Southampton

01 00_00_18_15.jpg
02 00_00_23_18.jpg
03 00_10_01_18.jpg
04 00_11_30_17.jpg
05 00_17_33_10.jpg
06 Mykola_Ridnyi_The_Battle_Over_Mazepa_LOWRES_061.jpg
07 Mykola_Ridnyi_The_Battle_Over_Mazepa_LOWRES_082.jpg
bottom of page