Palianytsia means bread. In classical sense, it means large-sized round wheat bread, baked in an oven. At the start of the war Russia unleashed against Ukraine, the word «palianytsia» became a symbol, since Russian occupiers are unable to pronounce it correctly. It became a shibboleth, distinguishing friend from enemy without mistake. In addition to conventional troops, Russia sent groups of saboteurs to Ukrainian cities in advance of the invasion. The saboteurs’ task was to spy, inform Russians where our armed forces were stationed, where checkpoints and infrastructure facilities are located. They also left identifying marks to help aviation and landing forces navigate and so on. These people moved around the city in civilian clothes but were armed. The project was inspired by the Transcarpathian region where we now live with my co-author Denis Ruban. When the second week of the war started, our whole family was forced to leave our hometown, Kyiv. My mother, sister and aunt are now in Germany, and we continue to live here and hope to return. The villages here are protected by the Carpathian Mountains and there are many mountain rivers; their waters run fast and polish the stones. There are no strategic sites such as airfields, military bases and weapons depots here, so we think we are safe. Even though sometimes there are air raid sirens. Upon arrival, we stopped at an overcrowded expensive hotel in the district center. Trying to find our own place, we walked and traveled a lot around the area, and that was when we noticed the river stones. We started looking at them more closely and the idea just came to us. There was no time for distancing and analysis, there was a growing need to do something and be useful! At the moment, there are about 6.5 million internally displaced persons in western Ukraine, so finding a place, especially one with a workshop, was incredibly difficult. On the fifth day of our search, we succeeded! We found a detached house with no utilities, not even electricity, because a tree fell 7 years ago and broke the wires. Together with the owners, we started organizing everything from scratch. Now we have electricity, Internet, a refrigerator and a microwave oven, firewood for cooking and heating the house and water from a well. Most importantly, we can work. Being able to work on the project really helps to stay sane, because we feel that we are doing everything we can. We donate 100% of the money we receive for these artworks to volunteer organizations and friends who stayed in Kyiv and joined Territorial Defense forces there. For the first 2 weeks of the war, it seemed to me that art was a dream, that all twenty years of my professional life were just something I had seen while asleep, that art was absolutely powerless and ephemeral in comparison to the merciless military machine destroying peaceful cities and human lives. Now I no longer think so: I see that every artistic gesture makes us visible and makes our voices heard!


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Artist’s Bio

Zhanna Kadyrova (born in 1981 in Brovary, the city in Kyiv region, Ukraine) she currently lives and works in her hometown. She graduated from Taras Shevchenko State Art School and received the Kazimir Malevich Artist Award (2012), the Sergey Kuryokhin Modern Art Award for Public Art (2012), the Grand Prix of the Kyiv Sculpture Project (2012) as well as the Pinchuk Art Centre Special Prize (2011) and the Pinchuk Art Centre Main Prize (2013). Her works have been extensively exhibited worldwide, recently at the M17 Contemporary Art Centre, Kyiv (2021), the Shanghai International Sculpture Project JISP, Shanghai (2020), the Ukrainian Institute in New York, USA (2020). She participated in the 58th, 56th and 55th Venice Biennale, respectively in 2019, 2015 and 2013. Kadyrova’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including exhibitions at Centre Pompidou and Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Bureau for Cultural Translations, Leipzig, the Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria, the Ludwig Museum, Budapest, Hungary, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Polanda, National Art Museum of Ukraine, and the Pinchuk Art Centre (2012, 2013) in Kyiv, Ukraine where her first major retrospective will be held in 2023.

Kadyrova’s practice, tackling since its very beginning disciplines as different as sculpture, photography, video, performance, deeply focuses on the exhibition site and space. In her works, the issue of context unravels to reveal the rhythm of History on the move – that of a world whose multiple layers disappear behind their immediacy. Often diverting the aesthetic canons of the socialist ideal still present in the heritage of contemporary Ukraine, Kadyrova’s perspective is partially informed by the plastic and symbolic values of urban building materials. Thus, ceramics, glass, stone and concrete enter the spotlight of her work.

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