KÜNSTLERHAUS

BETHANIEN

Exhibition

PHOTOGRAPHS OF AN ABANDONED ARCHIVE FROM THE FORMER UKRAINIAN SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLIC

Burkhard von Harder

“Ukraine is a country of lost archives” – Oksana Zabuzhko, writer (2013)

“In truth Ukraine is in a state of war not with Russia, but with the undead corpse of the USSR.” – TV Editor, Vinnitsa

In the summer of 2010, German photographer and artist Burkhard von Harder traveled to central Ukraine (Volhynia-Podolia) for research, where he made a chance find in the attic of an empty building. At that time, it was not apparent that the scattered negative strips were remnants of a photo archive from Soviet times, taken by anonymous photo journalists of the regional communist daily newspaper, responsible for reporting in the Vinnitsa region.
An official permission of the regional art museum made it possible to take them to Germany. A lengthy cleaning and scanning process followed before the material could be viewed for the first time.
Subsequently, a number of PoD publications were produced and shown at international art book fairs. In the summer of 2013, the project was the headliner of the VIZII Festival in Kyiv (FIRST FESTIVAL OF VISUAL CULTURE KYIV). In 2014, v.H. returned to Vinnytsia once again to conduct interviews with ‘survivors’ of the archive who could be found and agreed to talk about their experiences in the Soviet times and the years of transition to independence. The events surrounding the Maidan led to the abandonment of the filming.
It seems worth mentioning that among the negatives there are film strips whose context seems to unravel in the context of the parallel exhibition DRUSHBA TRASSE, which makes it possible to assign the shots (Egon Krenz at a meeting of the FDJ in Vinnitsa / pictures of official ceremonies etc.).
The motifs of the silkscreen prints shown (CHROMOLUX) are based on a selection of negatives whose everyday motifs have been given additional visual dimensions by the action of chemical processes (solarizations) and mechanical injuries (scratches).
From today’s perspective, these images seem to have acquired a new meaning through a 20-year incubation period in the attic; as if such a period had been necessary to make visible references that silently wanted to point eloquently to the future.

Exhibition
11.08. – 03.09.2023
Tue - Sun: 2 - 7pm
Admission free

Opening
10.08.2023
7 pm