The Eye and the Sun


Photograph, a hand-made table-cloth, mortar shell

Courtesy of the artist

10628152 10204964005004286 2194205132782641679 n

Exhibited during the Festival Komentatorki / Women Commentators in Warsaw

To a small town in eastern Ukraine named Debaltsevo I came, some days after the battle for it had begun. During the daytime there was virtually no one on the streets, just occasional townsfolk hurrying home, to be closer to their cellars – their only salvation during bombardments which lasted several hours. 

For a week there had been neither water nor electricity in the town; the last shop had closed and moved out on the day I arrived. That day, the bombardment had been due to begin at 5 pm.

It was only 3 pm. I was examining the hole made by a mortar shell. Doesn’t it remind you of the sun, as a child might have drawn it? Or of a closed eye. Vera stood next to me. And she was laughing, although at times she was absolutely petrified. 

Vera said: We’re in hiding. We spend our nights in the cellars. We jump at sudden noises. If someone opens a bottle of champagne, we get ready to run. 

Look at this crater! Maybe we’re fooling ourselves, there’s actually nothing to be scared of? 

This crater could just be someone’s new children’s project.

Somebody wants to use the entire might of modern machinery to etch numerous suns into our asphalt. And we just can’t see it, we’re blind to it, and not even grateful! 

Vera burst into laughter. 

10645052 10204963999604151 1801756550118424396 n

Debaltsevo, a town of 20,000, of whom only 5,000 have today remained behind. Even after a ceasefire signed on September 5th, 2014, bombardments have persisted every day. The town centre is already partly destroyed, as are several factories and the railway line. During attacks, which would routinely start at 5 or 7 pm and would last till morning, inhabitants would hide in the cellars, although these shelters were not adapted for warfare, temporary shelters, and often turned out to be unsafe. 

Before you is displayed a mortar shell from Debaltsevo. The Russian word “mina” (mortar shell) apparently comes from the French or Celtic “mine” – a mine, tunnel or underground passage. 

listovka litso

 More about The Eye and the Sun on this homepage:

"The Eye and the Sun" at Women Commentators Festival in Warsaw / October 2014

"The Eye and the Sun" in the exhibition "Referendum on withdrawal of the human race" / 10.12.2014