"There are no tyrannies that would not try to limit art, because they can see the power of art. Art can tell the world things that cannot be shared otherwise. It is art that conveys feelings."

 - Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine 

Уяви Україну – Мистецтво як критичне ставлення / Imagine Ukraine – Art as a Critical Attitude

(c)Dana Kavelina
Лист до горлиці / Letter to a Turtledove, 2020
Video , 20'

Letter to a Turtledove is a secondary artistic appropriation of amateur footage shot during the war in the Donbas region of Ukraine, recombined into a surreal anti-war film-poem. The videos found on the Internet are interspersed with animated fragments created by the artist, staged mise-en-scène, and archival footage of Donbas from the 1930s. At the time, the region was a hot spot of Stalinist industrialization and inescapable labour enthusiasm and the motherland of the Stakhanovite workers' movement.

Kavelina confronts the testimonies from different historical periods in such a way that they create dialogue and cast shadows on one another. The artist believes that the definition of Ukrainian identity lies in the darkness of such shadows: somewhere between the Soviet past, whose inheritance is denied by the dominant political narrative, and Ukraine’s traumatic present. A monologue that sounds behind the scenes, written and read by the artist, creates space between the political and the intimate. The title Letter to a Turtledove refers to a message addressed to a woman in the occupied territories. The image of the victim woman is central to the film. This work contains many traumas, images, horrors, dreams, and hallucinations that have befallen Donbas since its invasion by Russia in 2014. However, as history shows, the region has been a space of contradictions, myths, and hopes long before the war.