People growing up in Donetsk, one of Ukraine's breakaway regions (or spaces like this), often try to come to grips with these places and Kateryna Iakovlanko, our speaker today, is no different. First she worked with documentaries looking at the way heroic stories are constructed in the region, but then the war broke out and shit got too real. But she continued trying to engage with violence in a visual way.
Her PhD ended up being how these narratives can be communicated without words, and she was drawn to the kinds of posters popular during times of war. Donetsk region, and Donbas in general, is a place deeply defined by its history as a place populated by miners and industrial workers, and a lot of the posters from WWII happened to have miners and workers with weapons. So even seventy years ago it became quite normal to imagine regular people with weapons, militarized
. A visual history was created, and it became important not just to hear but to show
that people naturally fight for their region. This is the kind of narrative that was tapped into when Donetsk and Luhansk rose up against the government in Kyiv in 2014.
Nowadays we don't just look at posters for examples of how visual culture is created – mediums like art, movies and cinematography are also huge. But social media and the internet are probably the most significant. She wants us to analyze a particular way that power was constructed visually: through viral videos of young Donbas militants destroying installations and property of an art collective called Isolatsiya