Videoart at Midnight: #137: Dana Kavelina
Friday, 19 January 2024, 24:00 | Midnight
Eintritt frei | admission free
Videoart at Midnight is delighted to start the 2024 program with Dana Kavelina, a young Ukranian artist and filmmaker, who works with text, painting, graphics, video, and installation and produces animated films that explore personal and historical trauma, vulnerability, and perceptions of war outside mainstream narratives.
Dana Kavelina will show:
The Lemberg Machine, 2023, 62 min
The Lemberg Machine tackles a difficult and complex subject: the Lviv Pogroms of June and July 1941 and the subsequent unfolding of the Shoah in the city. Kavelina approaches the subject through stop motion animation, which she understands not only as a technique but also as a figure for resurrection. A fictional setting, the Ghost Machine, frames multiple voices speaking the many languages of the city. The film itself operates like the Machine, which catches subtle signals from the past and transforms them into moving pictures. The stories told in the film are based on eyewitness accounts of survivors, tales of Rabbi Nachman and the Kabbalah.
Commissioned by steirischer herbst '23.
Letter to a Turtledove, 2020, 20 min
One of the crucial sources for Kavelina’s work is the anonymous five-hour documentary To Watch the War (2018), a piece of found-footage filmmaking in its own right. Letter to a Turtledove is thus a second-degree artistic appropriation of amateur footage shot during the war in the Donbass region of Ukraine, recombined into a surreal anti-war film-poem. The war videos are interspersed with Kavelina’s own animated segments, staged mise-en-scènes, and archival footage of the Donbass from the 1930s (when the region became a hotspot for Stalinist industrialization of the Soviet Union, and of heated class warfare) onwards.
There’s an actual poem at the film’s center: a monologue spoken off-screen, authored by Kavelina herself (and translated into English by Sergey Levchin). This piece of writing encapsulates the multitude of traumas, grievances, horrors, dreams, and hallucinations that have descended upon the Donbass region since its invasion by Russia in 2014. Still, numerous elements of this multitude originate from long before the war had actually broken out.
(*1995, Melitopol, Ukraine) was based in Kyiv and Lviv, Ukraine; since March 2022, she has been a refugee in Berlin. Her 2022 film Letter to a Turtledove was acquired by The Museum of Modern Art in New York and was featured in the exhibition Signals: How Video Transformed the World. Her works were exhibited at the Museum Folkwang Essen, 2022; MAXXI – Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, Rome, 2022; Zionskirche, Berlin, 2022; Kristianstad Kunsthalle, Sweden, 2021; Kmytiv Museum of Soviet Art, Ukraine, 2019;. Her animated film Mark Tulip, who spoke with flowers received the Special Jury Mention at the 2019 Odessa International Film Festival, and the Grand Prix of the 2018 KROK animation festival, Kyiv. Dana Kavelina is the Main Prize winner of the 7th edition of the PinchukArtCentre Prize, an award for Ukrainian artists under 35. She is shortlist for the Future Generation Art Prize 2023.