90th anniversary of the Holodomor – the man-made famine in Ukraine – was the starting point for a discussion held on September 17, 2022, at the Nizio Gallery. The debate titled ‘Wielki Głód 1932-1933 w Ukrainie. Sztuka w obliczu ludobójstwa’ [‘The Great Famine in Ukraine. Art in the face of genocide’] was organised as part of the European Heritage Days and provided an opportunity to meet artists who addressed the issue of the Great Famine and memory thereof in their works. The discussion featured prominent Ukrainian writer, daughter and granddaughter of Holodomor witnesses Oksana Zabuzhko, artist Lia Dostlieva, architect Mirosław Nizio and representatives of the Holodomor Museum Foundation and the Holodomor Museum in Kyiv. The conversation was moderated by Witold Szabłowski.
Can mass murder be a component of national memory? How do artists work with trauma? What is the role of witnesses in the Holodomor story, and why can oral, spoken story be helpful in the narrative of genocide? How does literature, film or museums use this medium? Finally, how the memory of the genocide affects us today, especially in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian war. These are just some of the issues that guests invited by the Nizio Foundation will address in the conversation. In view of the 90th anniversary of the Holodomor, the Foundation proposes to take a broad look at the presence of the topic of Soviet crimes in art, public discourse and the collective consciousness of citizens of Ukraine and neighbouring countries like Poland.
In the 90 years that have passed since the Great Famine, artists have been looking for ways to get the story of this crime into the public consciousness, and to overcome the trauma associated with it. To this day, books, films, plays, exhibitions, monuments and museums dedicated to the Holodomor are still being created. The authors try to find the right means of expression, symbols and characters through which they show the scale and nature of this genocide, one of the greatest Soviet crimes.
The event was held as part of the 30th edition of the European Heritage Days implemented under a joint initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Union.
Polish and Ukrainian artists, social activists and creators met at the Nizio Gallery. The discussion was attended by:
Oksana Zabuzhko – prominent Ukrainian writer and essayist. Author of more than twenty books, winner of many national and international awards. She has earned a reputation as an intellectual leader of her generation. She is the author of i.a. the short story collection Sister, Sister, the novel Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex, the essays The Fortinbras Chronicles and Wormwood Planet. For her novel The Museum of Abandoned Secrets, she received the Angelus Central European Literary Award. Daughter and granddaughter of Holodomor witnesses.
Lia Dostlieva – artist, cultural anthropologist. Her works explore the issues of trauma, empathy, and post-memory, including in relation to the events of the Holodomor.
Mirosław Nizio – architect, expert in designing spaces for culture, museums and museum exhibitions. He is currently working with the Nizio Design International team on the design of the architecture and core exhibition of the National Museum of the Holodomor-Genocide in Kyiv.
Ivan Vasiunyk – Head of the Supervisory Board of the Foundation of the Holodomor Museum, Co-Chair of the Public Committee for the Commemoration of the Victims of Holodomor-Genocide 1932-1933.
Lesia Hasydzhak – ethnographer and museologist, acting director of the Museum of the Holodomor.
The conversation was moderated by Witold Szabłowski – reportage writer, writer and screenwriter. Author of the books Righteous Traitors and Rosja od kuchni.
Representatives of the Nizio Foundation talked about working with the Holodomor issue based on their own specific experience. The Nizio Design International studio has been involved in the project important for Ukraine’s identity, the National the National Museum of the Holodomor-Genocide in Kyiv, since 2018.
The debate is accompanied by the exhibition ‘Muzeum Hołodomoru w budowie’ [‘The Holodomor Museum under construction’] – a presentation of the design concept for the building and core exhibition of the National Museum of the Holodomor-Genocide in Kyiv, providing an opportunity to look at specific artistic work on the Great Famine by Polish artists.
Embassy of Ukraine in the Republic of Poland