Alexey Yurenev

This war of ours

I started to work on this project in January of 2022, prompted by a collaboration with IDUM (International Dialogue for Underwater Munitions) that looks at the disarming and disposal of conventional and chemical weapons buried in oceans and seas since WWII. Arguably these weapons have an expiration date before they release their toxic contents into the water. Like a traumatic memory, these munitions are hidden away, repressed - to manifest themselves in time with a catastrophic impact.

On February 24 2022, Russia attacked Ukraine. As a Moscow-born, New York-bred artist currently living in the Netherlands, I have deep ties on both sides of the conflict. From afar, I find myself engulfed and cornered by the unfolding war. Time stopped and lost its linear progression, like images rewinding, fleetingly, before death: Swan Lake, a line in McDonalds — the departure of modernity along with the ambitions of participating in it. Reaching a point of no return, the chronology turns 180 degrees, from my friends in bomb shelters on one side and in police vans, arrested for protesting, on the other.

Memory is the record of the past existing in the present. Can the complexities of war be remembered and processed as they happen, before they get repressed, before they fade away and what is left is action-packed coverage recorded by mnemonic institutions?

Time heals all wounds, it's said. But does it teach? War is remembered in the heroic acts, in death counts, destruction, glory. But there is more to the story of war. The long, banal reality, the in-between moments, the ones that get repressed and forgotten; the daily survival behind the front lines, where time has stopped and the future is cancelled; the horror of inaction and the echoes as loud as the explosion of a shell.

I am collecting diary entries, poems, to-do lists, and stories from various people on both sides of the war: a mother, a student, a sailor, a writer, and others whose ordinary accounts would otherwise be sifted out from recorded history. These messages are collected, memorized, and recited by a third party, who then becomes implicated and affected by the memories she reproduces. Read and recited against a green screen, This War of Ours portrays both the interpretation of experiences lived during war time, as well as an attempt to preserve these communicative recounts before they are deleted from history.

Masters Photography & Society exhibition 24-26 June Bunker at Waterkant Kapelweg 55, 2587 BK The Hague