"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 

Worth Fighting For

© Vlada Ralko. Photo: Sergey Illin
проєкт «Експонати»/ the Exhibits, 2021


One oftentimes fails to notice how the things that very recently belonged in one’s everyday life have imperceptibly migrated to cabinets of curiosities. Surrounded by the routine of a recent past, some objects and symbols became usual to the extent of invisibility. On the other hand, things that served us weekdays and weekends, signs that used to shape our environments are now put inside glass cases and turned into museum exhibits.

To me, this removal of everyday objects from their usual surroundings to make them a part of a ritual politics of a commemorative practice looks like insidious trickery. Discerning the outlines of a familiar childhood item under the museum glass, one cannot help but be surprised and subsequently jealous of an external narrative that sort of steals one’s private memories. However, these feelings somehow immediately turn into stiff boredom, as the signs of intimate history get drained, neutralised, and start collecting dust under the common gaze. The so-called release of memories has an inherent flavour of the aftertaste of villainy: an object from a family home or a sign from a den of secret memories is forcefully taken, displayed for public view, or renamed. This creates hollows in the depths of one’s own memory, subsequently filled by the sagging ground of private past that changes the landscape of a biography. Together with these things given away for display, one loses personal recollections, getting offered a string of ritual determinants instead. I cannot get rid of this feeling that museum displays are a kind of exhibitionist pulling out of a family closet; at the same time, a visit to a museum resembles sleepy intent peering often limited to an eerie divination by the guts of an individual remembrance. The proverbial dirty linen that must not be washed in public is suddenly elevated to a talisman of an era; a scrap of paper or a tangle of hair is emphasised by the museum light, as if lit up by an aureole. The past absorbs the present fending me off with my own things, which in turn become strangely significant in their idleness. An anonymous territory of collective memory slowly but surely consumes the everyday life, and this process is so hopelessly continuous that escaping from it to an alive life is only possible through some insane somersault.

Random pieces of junk of used up everydayness are thrown to the surface of today like rare archaeological finds. Examining them, one assumes the fate of a perverted collector, while time that seemed infinite for a moment instantly forms into a mass of flesh breathing down the neck. One has no choice but to lay a false trail to avoid getting exposed and locked in a display case, turned into yet another memorial oddity.”

Vlada Ralko


Figure, 2021; In Memory, 2021; Curtain, 2021; Swing, 2021; Obelisk, 2021 ; Star, 2021
Acrylic, marker, pencil on canvas
Created during the residency BIRUCHIY-PRIMORSK 021 Time not lost