Famine


2022; HD-video; 01:23:42
By Elias ParvulescoCommissioned by Mystetskyi Arsenal
Femine is an attempt to look at the Ukrainian tragedy of the 1930s through an inversion of the classic film Earth (1930, directed by Oleksandr Dovzhenko). This film—a symbol of Ukrainian cinema—is woven from many contradictions. One of them is that the socio-technological utopia of collective farms on the screen hid the beginning of the forcible seizure of bread in real Ukrainian villages. The shooting of Earth took place during the summer and autumn of 1929 in the village of Yaresky in the Poltava region, which Dovzhenko discovered thanks to artist Vasyl Krychevskyi. At that time, the political climate in the Ukrainian SSR changed dramatically. In the cities, Ukrainization was winding down quietly and the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine trial against the intelligentsia was being fabricated. In the villages, mass resistance to collectivization began, which continued with repressions and artificially created famine. The video Femine arose as a kind of remake of Earth at a time when Russia's military aggression against Ukraine is taking the form of ecocide and ‘grain blackmail’. A new edition based on Dovzhenko’s film removes the characters, their ideological opposition, and the hierarchy of future killers and victims from the film. Only soil sown with grains, orchards, livestock, and crops remain on the screen and appear in the original time frame (provided the projection is 24 frames per second)—all that will very soon disappear from Ukrainian villages. Moreover, taking into account that almost no visual evidence remained of the resistance to collectivization in 1929-1931 and the artificial famine of 1932-1933, the very capture of landscapes by the camera in a feature film of that time seems to compensate for the lack of documentary, once again confirming the well-known formula that “cinema films death at work.”
Public screenings:from 25.11.2022 till 01.01.2023 as a part of 'Heart of Earth' exhibition at the Mystetskyi Arsenal, Kyiv.