Collaboration with Nadiya Petrovska
Concrete, glass, plastic, acrylic, liquid. 
Size: 12 x 13 x15 cm
   This is not a cemetery, but the central street of the city of Kherson. If I am not mistaken, it is still called Suvorova Street. Not so long ago, a bust of a famous commander of the Russian Empire was installed on the pedestal. The people of Kherson quite often set meetings here, indicating: "Let's meet on Suvorov, near the head," - it was a good reference point, which, consciously or unconsciously, we deprived of identity and value. We hesitated to get rid of it, because it is a history, despite its irrelevance and rudimentarism. So, when in October 2022 the Russians, retreating, announced the evacuation of everything they consider Russian (and materially valuable) to the left bank of the river (still occupied), they actually did us a favor - the decolonization of the city space, which we could not dare to do for a long time. As well as to fill the created vacuum with something worthy. In our collective space, as well as in collective consciousness, emptiness has been walking for years. What was valuable has depreciated, and new values ​​have not been acquired. Logos filled the space for ideas. Wandering thoughts and eyes often look for something in the usual place that will tell us what is worth living for, what is worth fighting for, why, from where and where we are going to. Eyes and thoughts are looking for a new identity, new meanings. This is definitely not a dead hero and not an iron woman that looks more like a man, no matter what sign she has on the shield. (Why not the logo?).
   What are we looking for? Pain? Death? Victim? Strength? Power? Or maybe Life? Peace? Freedom? Love? Wisdom? Unity?
Or maybe Responsibility? At least for our personal choice from the proposed list.
There is a continuation in the story about the abduction of monuments by the Russians. If you walk a little further along the central street of the city, you can meet Anatoliy Malyshevskyi. He has been standing here in the same place for many years. First as a living person, a blind singer, now as a monument that reminds us about something important.
Anatoliy began to lose his sight when he was a small child. This happened after the careless contact of his face with the boot of the NKVD officer who came to take his father away from him. If I'm not mistaken, by the age of 20 he could hardly see anything, but he managed to hide it and worked at the factory as a security guard. But sometime, in the early 2000s, the day came when Anatoliy was fired. At first, he tried singing in the trains until he dared to take precisely exact place on the central street of the city.
A monument was paid and erected by initiative residents at their own expense. The funds were raised in social media in the same way as we are doing now to equip Ukrainian Armed Forces. It was done not because he had a magical special voice, but because, despite all his life's troubles: poverty, blindness, the death of his wife and the debts of his son, he remained an optimistic and cheerful person. Ability we are lacking now. After all, to love life under any circumstances and to love yourself is, in fact, one and the same fundamental task. Perhaps the very true meaning of our existence, our way to paradise. Although, I am sure, there have always been and will always be enough people around who would advise him to balance his wheel and set his goals correctly.
Anatoliy kept the fire burning in the hearts with his voice and his presence. There, in the middle of the street, he might have been the richest man of all. On a plaque below, next to his money box, the words are engraved: “Only the heart sees well. You will not see the most important thing with your eyes...". I feel sorry that for many years I passed by Anatoliy without noticing him. I feel sorry that I was blind for a long time.
So, going back to the abduction story, the Russians took away what they consider important: the memory of the empire's generals, who probably valued people no more than a livestock. Do they understand how it is connected with today's events: war and "meat assaults"? Or with the latest trend of battle drone Tik Tok, where Russian soldiers on the battlefield put their guns in their mouths and pull the trigger? The question is rhetorical. Of course, they did not notice the most valuable monument in the city. But what about us? Where are the sandbags?
I believe that it is worth thinking on why Anatoliy Malyshevskyi became the only Kherson resident who, since the Independence of Ukraine, was honored by the monument in the public space. The self-taught artist Polina Raiko became the only Kherson resident who received her own museum during this time. A retired woman in a fairly similar life situation took a paintbrush for the first time at the age of 69, spent her last money on cheap enamel and painted her home interior all over. The catalog of her works is called "The Way to Paradise". Unfortunately, her museum, which is located in the occupied territory, was seriously damaged by a flood caused by the destruction of the Kakhovska Dam by Russians last year.
Author of the sculpture: Yurik Stepanyan
Series concept

   The gift that no one would want to receive.

   It is unlikely that anyone in their right mind would want to receive such a gift, but unfortunately, our fate and nervous system do just that and leave us no other choice. War is traumatic. It will end someday, but triggers - certain objects, sounds, and places - will periodically return us to the feelings and states that we experienced and are still experiencing. They settle on the bottom of our psyche like a heavy block of concrete and will lie there as long as they are connected to intense negative emotions and feelings. Until we have rethought the events that have happened and understood what has changed in our personality and values for the better. Until the traumatic memories fit  into neat row of blocks in the foundation of the structure that we have not yet become. It is impossible to run away from triggers, they can and should be discharged, before inherited by children.
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