70 Female Artists from Ukraine and Belarus Join the International Initiative ‘Secondary Archive’

By Editorial Team on March 2, 2022

February 23, 2022, 70 artists from Ukraine and Belarus joined the Secondary Archive project – a unique initiative on a European scale that responds to the problem of the lack of visibility of women from Central and Eastern Europe in recent art history. The secondaryarchive.org platform is designed not only to show the work of artists from this region, but also to create a place where they can speak for themselves. Statements of three generations of artists from Ukraine and Belarus contain stories of wars, successful and unsuccessful revolutions, reality of the Soviet regime, everyday life of the ‘last dictatorship of Europe’, the role of female artists and the strategies of resistance they can undertake. In a context of growing international tensions, the exchange of experiences and solidarity with women from the threatened countries, is extremely important.

The digital archive, which currently contains hundreds of statements, examples of works and essays, was created thanks to the cooperation of the Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation with international partners.

Ukrainian and Belarusian art for a long time remained unknown to the international audience. Belarus is in a particularly difficult situation, as currently there are no state or private institutions where contemporary artists can present their works. The country, which had been experiencing a kind of “cultural thaw” since the 2010s, has been brutally cut off from the rest of the world in the last two years. In response to the massive anti-government protests, the last independent cultural entities have been shut down, a significant part of the cultural representatives have left the country, and some of them remain imprisoned.

The war in Ukraine, the protests and political repression in Belarus, the situation on the border and the specter of another conflict emerging from Russia – all this has had a huge impact on the local art scene in recent years. A mass movement of politically and socially engaged art has arisen, the role of the artist in society is changing. Local female artists are attracting more and more attention, and their works are beginning to be shown at exhibitions abroad. However, this often does not go hand in hand with real interest in their works, but is rather a polite gesture of support or a kind of fascination with local exoticism. By presenting their art without proper context, history and understanding, they are once again deprived of the opportunity to express themselves.

The Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation and its partners have been working for two years on showcasing artists from the region and the history of their practices. Secondaryarchive.org is a space where they can speak for themselves – both by creating statements and presenting their works. From the beginning, the name of the platform was a delicate provocation and a word paly referring to the position of women as representatives of the “second sex” and the secondary role that was attributed in the past to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in relation to the so-called “first world”. Residents of the countries of the former Eastern Bloc educated according to Western models most often know more about the history of the West than about their neighbors. In the light of the threats facing the countries of Central and Eastern Europe today, it is necessary to know the common past, share stories, facilitate dialogue and build support networks within the region.

The platform, which last year gathered hundreds of profiles of artists from Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, is now expanding its borders. The archive will be joined by fifty artists from Ukraine and twenty from Belarus. Implemented thanks to the joint effort of local curators, artists and coordinators, the project includes artists from all backgrounds – emerging, young, unknown, as well as those with an established position. It includes testimonies of e.g. Tetiana Jablonska, one of two Ukrainian women-artists representing the Soviet Union at the Venice Biennale, Iryna Pap, the most famost woman reportage photographer in the USSR, or Alla Horska, who was murdered by the regime in 1970 for her political views, as well as key contemporary Belarusian and Ukrainian artists such as Marina Naprushkina, Lada Nakonechna, Vlada Ralko, Ala Savashevich, Zhanna Kadyrova and many others.

“Secondary Archive – Platform for Central and Eastern European Women Artists: Ukraine and Belarus” was carried out by the Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation together with partners – the Artsvit Gallery (Ukraine) and the Goethe Institute in collaboration with the Ambasada Kultury (Belarus). The initiative is supported by the European Union under the House of Europe programme.

“Secondary Archive – Platform for Female Artists from Central and Eastern Europe: Ukraine and Belarus” is supported by the European Union as part of the House of Europe program.

Secondary Archive

  • Project leader: Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation
  • Partners: Ambasada Kultury, Artsvit Gallery, Goethe Institut e.V.
  • Project curator: Asia Tsisar
  • Project manager: Magdalena Majewska
  • Project support: Zuzanna Andruszko
  • Project design and identification: Marcel Kaczmarek
  • Website developers: Aleksandra Gajda
  • Website editor: Justyna Michalska
  • Media strategy: Joanna Andruszko

Belarus

  • Partners: Ambasada Kultury, Goethe Institut e.V
  • Project coordinators: Anna Chistoserdova, Valentina Kiselyova
  • Curatorial team: Anna Karpenko, Sophia Sadovskaya
  • Translations (English): Olga Bubich, Lara Perski
  • Translations (Belarusian): Valeryia Khotsina, Alesia Ramaniuk
  • Simultaneous translation: Vadzim Vileita
  • Proofreading (English): Olga Bubich
  • Proofreading (Belarusian): Valeryia Khotsina
  • Website edition: Viktoryia Kharytonava
  • Special thanks: kalektar.org, NGO Ecohome, Jakob Racek, Tanja Setsko, Nataša Ilić

Ukraine

  • Partner: Artsvit Gallery
  • Project coordinators: Iryna Kharlamova, Iryna Polikarchuk
  • Project support: Mariia Behmat, Olha Bychekhovska
  • Curatorial team: Oksana Briukhovetska, Kateryna Iakovlenko, Iryna Polikarchuk,
  • Kateryna Rusetska
  • Translations: Olha Zaporozhets, Larissa Babij, Grace Mahoney, Anastasiia Mednikova
  • Simultaneous translation: Svitlana Bregman, Yuliya Harasym
  • Proofreading (Ukrainian): Kateryna Iakovlenko, Liubov Ilnytska
  • Website edition: Denys Vasyliuk
  • Special thanks: Kateryna Badianova, Yevheniia Moliar, Valeria Schiller

Artist List

Ukraine

  • ANTIGONA
  • Jan Bačynsjkyi/Yana Bachynska
  • Tereza Barabash
  • Nataliia Bazylevych
  • Yevgenia Belorusets
  • Oksana Briukhovetska
  • Uliana Bychenkova
  • Yana Bystrova
  • Oksana Chepelyk
  • Olia Fedorova
  • Ksenia Gnylytska
  • Uli Golub
  • Alena Grom
  • Tetiana Hershuni
  • Nataliia Holibroda-Boiko
  • Alla Horska
  • Zhanna Kadyrova
  • Alevtina Kakhidze
  • Olha Kashymbekova
  • Dana Kavelina
  • Oksana Kazmina
  • Lesia Khomenko
  • Kinder Album
  • Alina Kleitman
  • Alina Kopytsya
  • Tetiana Kornieieva
  • Yulia Kosterieva
  • Yulia Krivich
  • Iryna Kudria
  • Maria Kulikovska
  • Daria Kuzmych
  • Olha Kozyura
  • Kateryna Lesiv
  • Kateryna Lysovenko
  • Olan Mamay
  • Anna Manankina
  • Lada Nakonechna
  • Irina Pap
  • Valentina Petrova
  • Vlada Ralko
  • Ada Rybachuk
  • Anna Scherbyna
  • Halyna Sevruk
  • Anna Sorokovaya
  • Olena Subach
  • Valeria Troubina
  • Tetiana Yablonska
  • Alina Yakubenko
  • Kateryna Yermolaieva
  • Anna Zvyagintseva

Belarus

  • Xisha Angelova
  • Lena Davidovich
  • Zhanna Gladko
  • Janna Grak
  • Masha Maroz
  • Volha Maslouskaya
  • Vika Mitrichenko
  • Marina Naprushkina
  • Ulyana Nevzorova
  • Ludmila Rusova
  • Ala Savashevich
  • Nadya Sayapina
  • Olha Sazykina
  • Antonina Slobodchikova
  • Anna Sokolova
  • Tamara Sokolova
  • Olia Sosnovskaya
  • Varvara Sudnik
  • Masha Svyatogor
  • Galina Vasilyeva
  • Natalya Zaloznaya
  • Alesya Zhitkevich

(Source: Secondary Archive Press Release)