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Unidentified Figures

Since the full invasion is not allowed to take any photos or videos of soldiers or any military objects because of security reasons. Photographs have become a dangerous tool of communication, sharing might give the enemy intelligence for an attack. Working on this series I reflect on the role and status of the image, which in the context of war literally became a lethal weapon.


Recently I’m focusing on the role of digital photos in the context of media war and the relation between developing digital archives and materiality of the painting. In the war time it’s not permitted to take photos of the soldiers and military objects. That's why I think that photography  has changed it’s role and became a weapon instead of a utility tool. to work with the idea of dehumanization as “new normality” using my digital photo archive with footage of the war. I’m combining the personal experience by using photos that I receive from my husband who is in the army now with footage which circulates in the public sphere.

The photos are a selfie made by Ukrainian soldiers, retouched by themselves to conceal their faces and weapons.

I collect photographs depicting soldiers with their faces and backgrounds digitally obscured by means of glitching, pixelisation, blurring or hatching. Ukraine’s martial law prohibits taking photos of military facilities, soldiers and equipment on security grounds. Photography ceases to be an instrument and becomes a dangerous weapon. By turning found photos into paintings, the artist references the historical tradition of depicting war, as well as translates the language of digital imagery into that of painting. Her way of treating the images includes fitting the pixelised fragments in the figures of her characters to dehumanise and deconstruct them.

Contemplating the original photos, I see that retouching doesn’t remove strategic information from them; on the contrary, it adds new information that layers up just like characters’ skins in video games. Thus, pixels represent a kind of a ‘superpower’ owned by these ‘superheroes’. 

I’m referencing it to the history of natal painting and at the same time thinking about the role of the image and representation in the context of the cyber war.

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