Properties and Characteristics of a Work of Art in the Times of War

Nataliya Ilchuk
40 min Presentation + 40 min Discussion
Jorn Mortensen
Olavshallen: Kammersalen
Overabundant information and enormous amounts of easily digestible content circulate at such speed in the contemporary world that it does not allow time for introspection. This results in instantaneous decisions, taken without hindsight or discernment, which do not offer any possibility of developing informed reaction. Artists, aware of the phenomenon of art becoming a hostage of rapid consumption, find new forms located in a large problematic gap between material at a critical distance and opportunistic drifts. I focus on case studies involving the pressures of international cultural institutions and the financing related to it, and I analyze how these tensions come into play in the artistic process. My presentation closely examines certain characteristics and properties of films from the totalitarian era in close, structural, and organic comparison with contemporary cinema. I ask what film is in its reality today. For example, is it enough to have certain characteristics to “resemble” a film? And, if so, which characteristics? Are moving images always required to have properties that can be assessed by funders with regard to their impact on the public, as it was in the times of direct propaganda? Artworks urgently produced on the subject of the ongoing war in Ukraine are, for the most part, internationally commissioned on short notice and made by both Ukrainians and foreigners. Is there a choice left for a Ukrainian artist who is not willing to immediately reflect upon war in their own practice? What kind of art will we see in the coming years? Which purposes will it serve, and how free and unbiased will it be? Are the shock effect and speculation about sentimentality the only methods left to evoke empathy — or, for that matter, any emotion at all? This proposal brings attention to the construction of identity and society, building through consumption of art produced for the urgent demands of a political agenda.

Nataliya Ilchuk

Artist/researcher working mainly with archives, exploring the impact of modern technology and political ideology on constructing relations and art processes. My ongoing research focuses on the links between cinema and politics in the current geopolitical context of Ukraine in regard to its Soviet history. I’m interested in variations in the perception of reality due to the effects of mass media and screen representation of identity shaped on the verge of different eras.