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Paolo Ciregia

We live in a society in which our visual perceptions are bombarded all the time. Every single day in front of our eyes a huge amount of pictures of war and devastation flows, and we do not seem to feel any kind of feelings about them - we no longer “see” them. The bodies and the faces we keep on absorbing are turning us into alleged unaware voyeurs, and still we remain accustomed to pictures that neither offend us nor urge us to reflect. The paradox of that is we are driven to reflect only when a picture doesn’t show all those war-related elements, such as dead bodies or weapons.

With the reportage photographs of my private archives, shot during four years to document the Ukrainian war – from the riots in Maidan Square, to the parting of the Crimea, to the war in Donbass – I reconstruct such events with overlaps, cuts and corrosions. The aim is to create a different iconographic repertoire, to revise and to change the way to tell the war, without erasing the historical and cultural roots of such events. A work that tastes Soviet with echoes of constructivism.

A language that speaks “Perestroika” (Russian for “restructuring”), that refers to the restructuring of the Soviet political and economic system during the 80’s, that aimed to do reforms and to soften the Soviet regime. However, these efforts failed and led the Soviet regime to an end. That probably marked the starting point of the current tensions in Ukraine. Another failure has also been the unethical way to talk about war: so that a new approach, able to stir up people’s feelings, is very much needed.

The second concept behind Perestroika is “Glasnost” (“openness”): that was about the (alleged) fight against corruption, and about freedom of expression. This same transparency is, almost literally, expressed by the artist via deleting the most improper elements of the photographs of war, i.e. the ones we are mostly accustomed to; as a paradox, censorship is used as powerful means of social condemnation. The bodies, already lifeless, are deprived of their own image, the latter being empty and anesthetized; the two- dimensional cut offers a three-dimensional perception, its weight and physical space hidden behind this void, a white shape that cannot leave us uninterested..

Text by Giulia Guidi

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