Diary spread

March 2022, paper, pencil


February 2022, paper, ballpoint pen


2022-2023, paper, blood


All my themes are now related to the war. Previously, my works were about the shcheznyky [from Ukrainian: those who disappear; characters of Slavic mythology], about people on the periphery and outside the boundaries of cultural and social contexts. Now, when these people die due to missile strikes, they begin to exist, the war paradoxically “revives” them in a collective sense. The war shone a light, like a spotlight, and made everything visible and united in the light field: the theme of trauma, social unit, periphery, personal, collective.

In my practice since February 24, 2022, I have focused on keeping a diary. Everything that happened around was extremely complex, while the materials became primitive: a diary, a pencil, and an eraser. The process of constant drawing and erasing.

Over these years, I have perceived the war as something illogical, unnatural, abnormal, that does not fit into any existing contexts. Over time, this understanding has become more complex. And it was at this time that blood appeared in the materials I work with. With a pencil, I simply illustrated the primal fear. When the rethinking came, the understanding of reality became deeper, and the “monsters” disappeared. That’s when the material of blood appeared. It was necessary to extract the material not from the surface, as it was with the pencil, but from the depth.

My native Kryvyi Rih is surrounded by quarries for ore extraction, my house is located right next to one of them. Due to the ore, everything there has a red tint, and after the rain, the roads become red. Ore is like the blood of the earth, the same iron. I associate these quarries with the wounds of the earth created by people. I feel Kryvyi Rih as something absolutely constant and immovable, but it played a big role for me in understanding the war.

In the work The Bridge, Death is depicted under a small bridge and a house for the homeless. Death became a special character for me, traveling between drawings in the form of a skeleton. Death, as if, became a hostage of these events, grew to this land. Somewhere it peeks out, somewhere it plays the flute, sometimes it comes to the grave, and sometimes it lends its back to support.

I have very few works about my own experience. One of them is written in blood. It depicts three people loading black bags, with Death helping them. That day we had four or five dead. We went out for them with two evacuation crews, and this was my first experience of folding a person into a bag. The body had already stiffened, and it took effort to fold the arms or what was left of them.

I would like to give people the opportunity to erase the blood from these works, so that only a stain that cannot be washed out remains. When I start to paint, the blood is bright red. Just like the memory of trauma. Then the work fades, becomes brown or even green. The memory of trauma also remains, but its saturation, its color changes. If something bad happens, we immediately want to cancel it. But over time, it becomes our experience, and we want to keep that.

Physically, I currently do not have the opportunity to be present in the art world. Due to the specifics of my work, I have very little time and energy even for a non-physical presence. However, it is very important for me to understand and feel that I still have a place in civilian life, in a life with which I identify myself. For me, it is a great opportunity to have this little island where I exist as an individual, as an artist.

The text is written in cooperation with Alya Segal (2024).

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

Secondary Archive

Artist’s Bio

Marharyta Polovinko – born on March 24, 1994, in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine. From 2012 to 2015, she studied at the Dnipro Theater and Art College in the Department of Fine Arts, specializing in easel painting. In 2019, she graduated from NAOMA with a degree in easel painting. As of 2024, she is engaged in volunteer activities and the evacuation of wounded Ukrainian defenders on evacuation vehicles, the first link in the evacuation chain.

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