Comfort Work (2024, with Andrii Dostliev)

Video installation

Ten actors from the EU and the UK are hired to perform in front of the camera the roles of those types of Ukrainian refugees, which are preferred by various communities in their own countries.

In preparation, we conducted numerous interviews with Ukrainian refugees in European countries about their experiences and contacts with host societies, what behaviour, look, and social status were expected from them, and what people were reluctant to see. These interviews resulted in 10 stereotypical portraits of Ukrainians who meet the (often ridiculous or dehumanising) expectations of various groups of European spectators. Furthermore, some respondents have been invited to coordinate and help improve actors’ performances. The videos were specifically created with a European viewer in mind who might be comforted by seeing a selection of what has been determined to be comfortable refugees.

Commissioned for the Ukrainian National Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition — La Biennale di Venezia curated by Viktoria Bavykina and Max Gorbatskyi.

Cast: Brodie Arthur, Dorota Bzdyla, Sławomir Grzymkowski, Iwona Kotzur, Carine Lin-Kwang, Saskia Pay, Modest Ruciński, Marina Sanli, Bernadetta Statkiewicz, Monika Wińczyk.

Additional Cast: Maryna Bileka, Marichka Butsmak, Liudmyla Chornovol, Olha Diemientieva, Ilai Fedorov, Iryna Fursova, Olena Hirko, Alisa Kulesh, Oksana Pyzh, Svitlana Sevostianova, Tetiana Shestak, Yevhenia Sokolova, Olha Turliuk, Daryna Ushkanovs, Mariia Volosnyk, Maryna Vyshnevska, Elina Zaitseva, Myroslava Zaitseva.

The production of “Comfort Work” is a cooperation project between Open Eye Gallery and the Goethe-Institut Ukraine funded by the Federal Foreign Office to sustainably strengthen the resilience of Ukrainian cultural and educational partners.

Produced in cooperation with Polish Theatre in Warsaw.

We would like to thank: Armed Forces of Ukraine, Matthias André Richter, David Mursal, Roland Ermrich and Park-Kultur, Lars Evers and Theaterfabrik, Katja Schlenker and Gerhart-Hauptmann-Haus, Iryna Shum, Yaroslava Kosenko, Andrei Dureika, Mariana Sadovska and Andre Erlen, Yuliia Kulinenko, Da Winczyx Foundation, Svitlana Oleshko, Magdalena Mróz, Beata Manowska-Żaczek, Kasia Michałowska, Joanna Sochal, Anton Dorokh, Sarah Fisher and everyone at Open Eye Gallery, Vid Simoniti and the University of Liverpool, Hayley Greggs and Paperwork Theatre, Rob Battersby.