Eyewitness the Russian War in Ukraine: The Matter of Loss and Arts


  • Kateryna Iakovlenko School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5088-8293




War, Contemporary Art, Materiality of Art, Memory, War Testimonies


Describing the first months of the full-scale Russian war in Ukraine, this article considers the materiality of art during the war: the destruction and appropriation of cultural heritage and infrastructure, the risk of being violent, and losing a life. Furthermore, this essay problematizes the value and symbolism of objects and art and speaks of artworks as a strategy of intellectual and historical resistance.


Benjamin, W. (2010). Über den Begriff der Geschichte. Werke und Nachlass – Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Bd. 19. Berlin: Suhrkamp. (Original work published 1942)

Buchatska, K. (2020). Instagram page [@ka.bu_]. https://www.instagram.com/ka.bu_/

Butler, J. (2011). Bodies in Alliance and the Politics of the Street. Public lecture, 7 September. https://transversal.at/transversal/1011/butler/en

Butler, J. (2015). Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Spivak, G.C., Condee, N., Ram, H., & Chernetsky, V. (2006). Are We Postcolonial? Post-Soviet Space. PMLA, 121(3), pp. 828–836.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1993). Why We Need Things. In S. Lubar & W.D. Kingery (Eds.), History from Things: Essays in Material Culture (pp. 20–29). Washington, DC: The Smithsonian Institution Press.

Gryschenko, I. (2022a). “Viyna Shredinhera ta povitryani tryvohy na kartynakh Lyusi Ivanovoi” /[Schrödinger’s war and air alarms in the paintings of Lucy Ivanova/]. BirdinFlight. June 29 2022. https://birdinflight.com/uk/nathnennya-2/20220627-vijna-na-kartinah-lyusi-ivanovoyi.html

Gryschenko, I. (2022b). Sviy sered chuzhykh: Kartyny khudozhnytsi z okupovanoho Khersona /[My Own among Strangers: Paintings of an Artist from Occupied Kherson/]. BirdinFlight. 4 July. https://birdinflight.com/uk/nathnennya-2/20220704-kartini-hudozhnitsi-z-okupovanogo-hersona.html

Gumbrecht, H.U. (2004). Production of Presence: What Meaning Cannot Convey. Redwood, CA: Stanford University Press.

Iakovlenko, K. (2022). These People Survived Mariupol. Here Are Their Stories. Open Democracy, 8 April. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/odr/ukraine-russia-mariupol-survivor-stories/

Kasianova, D. (2022) Osoblyvyy denʹ – sʹohodni i zavzhdy: Vezha z babusynoho kryshtalyu Mykhaila Aleksieienko /[A Special Day – Today and Always: Mykhailo Alekseenko’s Grandmother’s Crystal Tower/]. BirdinFlight, 16 March. https://birdinflight.com/nathnennya-2/crytyka/20210315-m17-alekseenko.html

Khomchenko, M. (2022). The Digital for of War. Spike, 23 March. https://www.spikeartmagazine.com/?q=articles/milena-khomchenko-digital-war

Kramer, L. (2009). Searching for Something that Is Here and There and Also Gone. History and Theory, 48(1), 85–97.

Ministry of Culture of Ukraine. (n.a.). Destroyed Cultural Heritage of Ukraine. https://culturecrimes.mkip.gov.ua/

New Historical Materialism. (2015). New Historical Materialisms, a Conversation. e-flux. https://conversations.e-flux.com/t/new-historical-materialisms/1022/3

Richter, G. (1995). The Daily Practice of Painting: Writings and Interviews, 1962-1993. Boston, MA: MIT Press.




How to Cite

Iakovlenko, K. (2022). Eyewitness the Russian War in Ukraine: The Matter of Loss and Arts. Sociologica, 16(2), 227–238. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.1971-8853/15272



Special Feature