In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, MOCA’s chief curator November Paynter was in touch with colleagues in East Europe to learn how to support Ukrainian artists at this time. In consultation with Sebastian Cichocki, Chief Curator and Head of Research at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, in solidarity with Ukraine, MOCA is screening six films from the Freefilmers Collective.
Produced prior to the invasion, the videos presented below were selected for their atmospheric qualities. The subjects strive to understand how they fit into their surroundings, using cultural signifiers of the past (such as derelict buildings) as a way to reimagine the future; these are places people choose to stay in and return to, even when difficult.
Freefilmers is a collective of filmmakers and artists, originally from Mariupol, Ukraine. For the past five years, they have been working with themes that explore urban transformations in East Ukraine and the geography’s multicultural vibes. The collective has also researched the working-class creativity and industrial past and present of post-socialist cities. Their most recent projects focus on memories and archives beyond official historical narratives and gender violence in a patriarchal capitalist society. Freefilmers have always stuck to an anti-capitalist agenda and intersectional feminism, and their goal is to create different forms of filmmaking, based on cooperation and an ethical approach.
Метаробота / Metawork
Sashko Protyah and Vasyl’ Tkachenko
Хайт / Khayt
The film Хайт / Khayt (2022, 8:44 min), documents a musicians stay at an arts residency in the city of Maripol in the year 2068. They’re making a sound installation for the Annual Music festival dedicated to Azov Greeks. Khayt is underground music, played in run-down places (early 2000s dive bar aesthetic mixed with 2060s DIY technology). The narrator describes the mundane tasks like checking in with the organisers while realising the project, and weaves these details into cultural observations such as the languages spoken in Maripol (Ukrainian, Russian, Surzhyk, Urum, and Rumekia).
Sashko Protyah and Oksana Kazmina
Вы шо, тут металл воруете? (Відновлення простору) / Revitalization of Space
Sashko Protyah and Oksana Kazmina
Шо шо? (Східноукраїнський діалог) / Eastern Ukrainian Dialogue
Surovtsov’s ambient film Totally stranger (2018, 13:39 min) observes a grieving woman as she wanders from a cemetery through windy fields to various urban locations with abandoned buildings. The soft-focus of the black and white film makes it clear, she’s not looking for a place, she’s trying to find her sense of self without her loved one. The woman is isolated and detached from reality, seeking answers to emotional questions and a cathartic release.
МОИ КОСМОС / MY COSMOS
In Natasha Tzeliuba’s MY COSMOS (2019, 10:55 min), the narrator finds herself back in her hometown (Cosmos), after being absent for 10 years. Tzeliuba directly references the name of her hometown and the failed soviet space race as she walks through the town in a spacesuit. Passing by derelict buildings while she reminisces on childhood memories, and the growing pains she associates with the district. In one scene she asked some children what they think of the district and they say the stars are very bright and beautiful from Cosmos.