This World is Recording

2023, video 7′


I observe my body, and this body I like. Its movements are smart; they keep the balance. Sometimes, I notice its new position, which has never happened in its previous life.

I don’t think I would have politicized the whole environment without a military invasion of my country. The search for clarification of one’s boundaries is caused by the external.

Would I be so eager to appropriate, define, and name the land, animals, and places? Would I like this body just as much without constantly imagining its death? — I doubt it.

What was before the invasion? I don’t remember.

It is like imagining a person whose hometown is threatened by a volcanic eruption, yet they refuse to leave. And to be mesmerized by this decision and paint it, only to later find out that Werner Herzog has already made a movie about such a person in his La Soufrière, 1977.

And here you are, lying on the asphalt all by yourself, with the lava irreversibly moving into you. Perhaps, when your body is baked in the pyroclastic flow and disintegrates into dust, a loving assistant will retrieve your plaster pose from the void, and someone else will observe it in a museum.

It’s like life before the crater, near the crater, and after the crater.

Time before the crater

I think Paraska Plytka-Horytsvit is somehow influencing my life. On February 21, 2022, Oleksandr Chayka and I traveled to Kryvorivnia to open the Horytsvit exhibition hall in a building of a former village council. Establishing a museum in Kryvorivnia has long been a goal of our initiative group.

Because of Horytsvit, I didn’t hear the first explosions or experience the threat of being encircled by the enemy. She was also the reason why I was happy for the first time after the invasion, as we returned to Kryvorivnia for the second time in December to open the Plytka-Horytsvit Museum. My first year of the full-scale war began with the museum still closed and ended with its opening. It served as an affirmation of life amidst reports of museum destruction. I was fearful to announce the opening dates and the museum’s location on social media due to the danger of potential shelling.

My works are written as a diary, in which I record only significant personal shifts; new knowledge about the universe and myself.

I painted what I thought would be my last painting in March 2022. It was a conscious farewell, a representation of the inertia of my previous life, which was already intertwined with new text and new names. The latter came from the names of the emerging weaponry.

Time near the crater

A crater is the embodiment of an inflicted force that is greater than man. There is a term “peak of eternal light,” but craters are only of “eternal darkness.” I gravitate more to solids than liquids. The frame, the structure, more bones than blood. On the territory of Ukraine, during the Eocene period, there are deposits of geological sediments of the Buchak formation — during this period, proto-amber was formed — I am ambitiously happy about this.

When the chest is misaligned with the pelvic bones, it causes a particular kind of pain: muffled, restraining soft tissue and breathing. A crater evokes similar sensations — the order of things, layers, horizons, ecosystems, time is destroyed, and time is mixed. In Greek, “crater” means “to mix.”

In May, in the already de-occupied, destroyed, blooming Moshchun, in a field near the chopped-up forest and burnt cars, I collect the first soil pigment from the crater. Ukrainian soils will become the basis for homemade oil paints, and this first one is Moshchun umber.

As the number of craters increases, the idea of a living memorial on a shelling-torn field will take shape.

This world is recording.

Time after the crater

It’s like travelling for a long time, looking out the window, and waiting for the next landscape to appear; waiting for the next destruction, and maniacally recording the landscape at 60 frames per second from the twelve windows of the Ukrzaliznytsia carriage. Fear of not remembering, of not having a thorough testimony. What kind of love is this supposed to be?

Here comes a time when the idea of art from the zero line becomes a point on the map. The front line is moving; zero lines become the rears of besieging; minuses and pluses become zero lines. It’s like the Undertaker in Malevich’s 1913 sketch carrying a black square as a flag, and then 110 years later, you find yourself digging in the black darkness of the soil, passed down to you by a warrior from the zero line; art and life, which is stronger than art, blend together.

I consider the black square, painted with the zero line chornozem (black soil) oil paint to be my best work.

The text was written in a collaboration with Kateryna Iakovlenko (2024).

The statement was created within the Secondary Archive project and was first presented on March 15, 2024.

Secondary Archive

Artist’s Bio

Katya Buchatska – born in Kyiv in 1987. She studied at the Kyiv Polygraphic Institute, the École Nationale Supérieure d’Art de Dijon, and the Kyiv National Academy of Arts and Architecture (Faculty of Monumental Painting). She was a member of the “Montage” group. Katya Buchatska works with environmental art, photography, installation, and painting. Additionally, she is a member of a preservation group for the legacy of the Hutsul artist Paraska Plytka-Horytsvit. Buchatska finds importance in the environment—both artistic and natural—which is why her practice is primarily connected to understanding and exploring the environmental function, history, and future. When reflecting on her role during the war, the artist created what she called “her last painting” at the beginning of the full-scale invasion, which sparked an idea that later developed into new projects. There, the artist delves into the memories of tragedy embedded in the landscape. In 2024, Buchatska collaborates with neurodivergent artists on the “Best Wishes” project, which will be exhibited in the Ukrainian pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia. The artist lives and works in Kyiv.

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