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