In this work the artists use their own bodies as tools to explore the experience of the Holodomor or Great Famine in Ukraine. According to different estimations, during 1932 and 1933 it took the lives of 3.3 to 7.5 million people who died from starvation. In Ukrainian the word “Holodomor” stands for man-made famine and this historical event is now acknowledged to have been deliberately carried out by the Soviet Union. However, it is contested in the Soviet history and this previously publicly suppressed subject still lacks sufficient memorials and places of commemoration in contemporary Ukraine.
Lia Dostlieva and Andrii Dostliev write: “Even now wasting food is strongly connected to subconscious feelings of guilt and shame. There are no logical reasons for this guilt—it doesn’t originate in reason but rather in the postmemory of this trauma.” In order to explore these feelings further, the artists began making prints of all the food they had to throw away, a practice they continued over two months. By connecting with affective memories of their families’ surviving this hunger, their work explores feelings that are simultaneously personal and cultural. They later added fragments of anonymous landscapes to the prints to create connections with traces of the famine in their bodily memory and its possible geographical and mental locations. The artists’ visual diary of wasted food juxtaposed with historical photographs of Ukrainian landscapes propose a language in which to talk about this traumatic subject. In the context of the omnipresent nature of death during the famine their image compilations remind viewers of the ways human bodies, serve as embodiments of traumatic and suppressed memories.
Andrii Dostliev and Lia Dostlieva are artists from Ukraine, currently based in Poznań, Poland.
Lia is also cultural anthropologist and essayist. The primary areas of her research are trauma, post-memory and agency of vulnerable groups. She works in a wide range of media, including photography, installations and textile sculptures, and has exhibited her works in Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Poland, Austria and elsewhere.
Andrii is also photography researcher and curator. He has degrees in IT and Graphic Design. His primary areas of interest are memory, trauma and identity—both personal and collective. He works in various media and has exhibited his works in Ukraine, Poland, Austria, the Czech Republic and elsewhere.