«Daily Bread. A First Retrospective» of work by Ukrainian artist Zhanna Kadyrova in Kunstverein Hannover
Kunstverein Hannover presents the first retrospective of work by artist Zhanna Kadyrova. Till April 9, 2023
Zhanna Kadyrova (b. 1981 in Brovary, Ukraine) has explored questions connected to the post-socialist perspective for over twenty years. Though already highly relevant, her practice has taken an urgent turn since the attack on Ukraine. The artist—who initially fled Kyiv with family members and took refuge in neighboring countries, including Germany—has since returned to the Ukrainian capital. She is motivated by a desire to work on the ground, to serve as an active participant, helper, and witness.
Kadyrova understands artistic work as an activity rooted in resilience. She travels at short intervals between exhibition venues worldwide and her hometown Kyiv, working as an artistic ambassador and messenger. In her luggage she carries not only materials and artworks, but also experiences, traumas, and the effects of living and working under siege. Confronted with the omnipresence of war in her home country, the artist finds a practice of resistance through structure and routine—art-making as daily bread. Kadyrova, like many of her colleagues and friends, continues to work in the face of exhaustion and even mortal danger, her drive and focus undiminished.
Daily Bread. A First Retrospective features works from two decades of artistic practice, including pieces created especially for the exhibition in Hannover. The presentation aims to show what new kinds of artistic production the dramatically changed situation calls for, and how radically new types of creative output can contextualize a situation in which art becomes a key means of resistance.
Daily Bread also features what is perhaps her best-known work from a series of rubble mosaics, a market stall (Market, 2017–19) and the transformation of this concept of daily bread into physical “bread loaves” made of large river stones (Palianytsia, 2022–, in collaboration with Denys Ruban). Sale of the “bread artworks” is ongoing and goes to providing financial support for Kadyrova’s community. All proceeds are donated to organizations and friends in Kyiv.
The artist shapes material that has been shot through or otherwise violently ripped away into new sculptural forms that speak to what is happening in her homeland. Even before 2014, she had begun “extracting” materials that carry meaning—often a piece of asphalt from a particular region (Data Extraction, 2013–) in Ukraine. In some cases, these regions are now no longer part of her homeland at all.
Kadyrova continues to reside near Kyiv. For her, to live and work in a city at war is to live the Ukrainian reality; she uses her practice and exhibitions around the world to reflect upon and document what is happening in Ukraine.
This exhibition, which is organized in cooperation with and with support from the PinchukArtCentre, Kyiv, is scheduled to be on view in a different form in the summer at the institution’s premises in Kyiv. Not only since the beginning of the war, PinchukArtCentre is the leading institution to support, promote, and represent Ukrainian contemporary art and artists both within and outside of Ukraine.
In collaboration with the Foundation Life & Environment | Heinrich Böll Foundation Lower Saxony, the Network Remembrance and Future in the Hannover region, and the ZeitZentrum Zivilcourage of the state capital Hannover, the Kunstverein is hosting two events as part of its “Ukraine and the Russian War of Aggression” series in February and March. Discussions in this framework intend to contextualize the works on view, provide background information on the current situation in Ukraine, and facilitate a broader dialogue around the role of art and civic society in conditions of aggression and repression.
Kadyrova also wants to give voice to her fellow activists, artists, and community members. This is enabled through conversations with artists and filmmakers Roman Khimei and Yarema Malashchuk, who are currently working near Mykolaiv, and artist and writer Yevgenia Belorusets, whose work is currently on view in the German Bundestag.
Daily Bread. A First Retrospective is a project in collaboration with and supported by PinchukArtCentre, Kyiv, Ukraine. The exhibition is generously supported by the NORD/LB Cultural Foundation. Thanks also to GALLERIA CONTINUA (San Gimignano-Beijing-Havana-Les Moulins-Roma-São Paulo-Paris-Dubai) and to a private collection in Rome, the FOROF Collection, Rome, and the Rigo-Saitta Collection, Switzerland.