Victories of the Defeated

It is said that history is written by the victorious. But can we know of a history written by the defeated?

"Victories of the Defeated" comprises photographs, human rights initiatives, and discussions, and speaks about the communities which continue to exist in Eastern Ukraine, on the fringes of hostilities, in spite of the legitimized violence of war. The purpose of this project is to focus attention on communities whose existence has frequently been an insurmountable obstacle to the spreading of military violence.

Gallery: “Victories of the Defeated” show with contribution of Ivan Melnichuk and Tatiana Kochubinska in the National Shevchenko Museum of Ukraine, Kiev, Aug – Sept. 2016:

 Room 1c exhib space 2 PHME0123 1

The philosopher Epictetus, who spent most of his life as a slave, believed that it is stories about events, rather than the events themselves, which impress people. But how can we hear the unwritten stories of those who, for some reason, are not ready to speak?

Ludwig Wittgenstein finished his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, the ideas for which arose in the trenches of the First World War, with the thesis: "The unspeakable is that about which we must remain silent."


Narratives about the continuing war in Ukraine are fragmentary. They rarely take the shape of a complete story, in which witnesses are talking, witnesses, who are still living in a war zone.

Instead, the large cities in Donbas currently occupied by pro-Russian military forces have become a space for a stream of constantly updating journalistic chronicles on "the occupied city."

Nonetheless it seems that as witnesses of this war, as readers of the news, we still do not really see the people living a war zone. These are people who live there despite its rules, refusing to obey its laws, or to believe the propaganda that the war creates.

The war in Ukraine goes on. Peaceful lives in the war zone are overshadowed by publicized TV images, official statements, and anything that could become a basis for cliched propaganda.

Yet we can penetrate the hardened media surface. We can redirect our attention to a different, invisible everyday life, and put a stop to this war.

The project was realised in 2015 with the support of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and consists of several chapters, including discussions not detailed below:

Chapter 1

"Please don't take my picture! Or they'll shoot me tomorrow!” was shown at la Biennale di Venezia, at the 56th International Art Exhibition 2015, in the exhibition “Hope!” in the Ukrainian Pavilion;

and in the exhibition “Das ist nicht meine Geschichte!” at ROTOR Center for Contemporary Arts in Graz, Austria as part of Steirischer Herbst, 2015

Chapter 2

Versöhnung, die wir verpasst haben – was shown at the Kapelle der Versöhnung / Chapel of Reconciliation in Berlin during August-November 2015

Chapter 3

Untitled was shown during the Kyiv Biennale 2015 at the National Oleksandr Dovzhenko Centre, as part of the School of Image and Evidence.

Chapter 4

“Victories of the Defeated” show with contribution of Ivan Melnichuk and Tatiana Kochubinska in the National Shevchenko Museum of Ukraine, Kiev, Aug – Sept. 2016

2014 - 2016