Forever and a Day 

все буде Україна!

Melkweg Expo Forever and a Day 
January 18 - February 25, 2024

"We have no time. For us time is converted into death."
(Oleksandra Matviichuk, Centre for Civil Liberties, Nobel Peace Prize)

What does freedom mean in the Netherlands? In the democracy we inherited from our parents, we find ourselves still searching for the balance between individual freedom and social citizenship. A complicated quest, when a growing distrust in the state and its institutions puts pressure on our identity. When emotions have become more important than facts. How to look after each other when everyone seems to be becoming more individualistic?

Ukrainians are unwilling to trade their freedom for economic benefits, promises of security or personal comfort. They are aware that the international peace and security system does not work, but believe that you can always rely on people. Self-critical people who uphold the value of freedom—giving young people the chance to develop their culture, language and symbols into a resilient democracy.

Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, Ukrainian artists and photographers have focused on the intersection of (political) activism, pop culture, journalism, documentation projects and even forensics. The brutality of the Russian genocidal system prompted them to see strengthening their own identity as a matter of national security. Many joined the army and territorial defence forces, and thus have direct war experience. Others express Ukrainian identity in idiosyncratic artworks and music, poetry and essays, or as humanitarian aid workers or volunteers. A generation of outspoken makers and doers has emerged who can appreciate the enormous emotional amplitude of war. A form of life that requires life itself to be sacrificed.

There are no safe places in Ukraine—only more and less dangerous areas. Russia has created a traumatising war space by taking large chunks of land and moving Ukraine's borders. Within them, constant mental and physical stress is experienced, and it is difficult to move freely and express yourself creatively. Time itself has also changed. For a Ukrainian, time has never felt as heavy as it does now. The war—filling every inch of space and weighing down with its full weight—is a constant source of unbearable pain that affects Ukrainians on a daily basis. As a result, the security of your own home, your workplace, your city has degenerated into a deadly unhealthy living environment.

On one February night, the shortest month of the year turned into an immeasurably long month that just won't turn into the next. At the beginning of the war, Ukrainians joked on social media and asked each other, "What day in February is it today?" On the day Forever and a Day opens, it will be February 694 on a Thursday. Meanwhile, it became spring, summer, autumn, winter, spring, summer, autumn and winter again. And despite everything, many Ukrainians chose to continue to see Ukraine as their home, where survival is a shared experience, and every individual is significant.

Forever and a Day showcases projects made in Ukraine over the past two years, in which it becomes palpable how difficult it is to get a grip on the here and now. Plans and dreams have been postponed. Of the fourteen, mostly young, participating artists, most chose to stay in Ukraine during the ongoing war. Several works depict the loss of future prospects, and anticipate the fact that Ukrainians do not know when the war will end. The desire for a spot on the horizon, for a future without occupiers, is part of a desire for meaningful reconstruction. After all, war is not just about destruction, mutilation and homelessness; it is above all the loss of the fundamental sense of security and, as a result, confidence in one's own ability to read and influence situations.

The exhibition was made possible by @melkwegexpo, @fotolab_amsterdam and the Mondriaan Fonds @mondriaanfonds.

Melkweg Expo
Marnixstraat 409
1017 PJ Amsterdam
(entrance via MILK Café)

Biographies of the participating artists:
Lesha Berezovskiy, Igor Chekachkov, Marynka Dovhanych, Nazar Furyk, Open Group, Evgeniya Laptii, Viacheslav Poliakov, Julie Poly, Daria Svertilova, Marta Syrko, Dima Tolkachov, Valerii Veduta, Kris Vóitkiv and Semen Kuchvara.

Lesha Berezovskiy, born in 1991 in Luhansk Oblast, Ukraine, is a self-taught photographer. Shaped by his upbringing in Donbas—between the industrial city of Yenakijeve and the serene Novoaidar—he fostered a deep connection with nature, cultivating a keen perception of atmosphere and solitude reflected in his photography.

Fleeing to Kyiv during Russia's 2014 invasion, Lesha elevated his craft, capturing subjects' reality vividly. Employing a semi-documentary style, his images resonate by revealing life's beauty in simplicity, devoid of superfluous interpretations.

His photography serves as a lens to explore the intricate bond between humanity and nature, spotlighting human artifacts' role in the environment. Lesha's fascination with unconventional settings mirrors his introspective nature, striving to fathom and celebrate the world's unrefined allure.

Igor Chekachkov (b. 1989 in Kharkiv, Ukraine) started as a photojournalist in 2008 and covered a wide range of cultural, mass and sports events. This experience led him to the field of art photography, which he still explores these days. The boundaries between public and intimate spaces, as well as modern digital algorithms and their influence on the image, were his main focus in photography until the Russian invasion of Ukraine. After the full-scale war started, he shifted his focus to Ukrainian identity and the question of home.

He received B.A. in Computer Science from the Kharkiv State University of Radio Electronics and an MA in Art History from the Kharkiv State Academy of Arts and Design. In 2022 he received a Chevening Scholarship to study for an MA in Photography and Electronic Arts at Goldsmiths University of London, where he is currently finishing his studies.

His work has been published in Forbes, National Geographic, The Guardian (UK), Le Monde (France), WirtschaftsWoche (Germany) among others. He also continues to exhibit his prints internationally in both solo and group exhibitions, including work in the Quatrième Image, Paris (2014), Galerie Claude Samuel, Paris (2015), Ukrainian Museum, New York (2015), Ukrainian Cultural Center, Los Angeles (2015) and the Odesa/Batumi festival (2017).

Marynka Dovhanych (b. 1994 in Kaniv, Ukraine) is an artist and director of animated films. She graduated from the National Academy of Fine Art and Architecture in Kyiv, with an MA in architecture and an additional qualification in fine art. Marynka currently lives and works in Vyshhorod, Ukraine.

Before 2022 her art explored such themes as the body and athletic pursuit, local Ukrainian myths and traditions. Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion in Ukraine, her focus shifted to artistic documentation of the individual and societal changes Ukrainians are undergoing in the face of war, as well as on problematizing and reevaluating aspects of Ukrainian culture and history. In 2023 she became art director of the KRCC Cultural Centre in Kryvyi Rih, teaches at Kharkiv School of Architecture, and joined the design team of Plan Diy, an educational course on reconstruction for teenagers.

Nazar Furyk (b. 1995 in Kolomyia, Ukraine) is an artist and independent photographer, who lives and works in Kyiv. He studied architecture at the Kyiv College of Architecture and Design, and engineering sciences at the Šiauliai State University (Lithuania).

In his photographic practice, he often focuses on the combination of everyday objects and the natural environment. He records natural phenomena and human interaction within urban space. Now he primarily documents how the brutal and destructive effects of war are reflected in people’s living environment. Nazar took part in personal and group exhibitions in Ukraine, Germany, Austria, Great Britain, Latvia, South Korea and Poland.

Open Group was founded in August 2012 in Lviv by six Ukrainian artists. The group’s structure changed over the years, and its presently members are: Yuriy Biley, Pavlo Kovach and Anton Varga. They occasionally invite other artists or others to take part in their projects and join the Open Group.

Group’s work is based on research of the interaction and communication between people, artists, situation and space. Also artistic practice is based on the study of the concept of “collective work”. Group members have been running independent art spaces, such as Detenpyla Gallery or Efremova26 Gallery (2013-2014) in Lviv, since 2011.

Open Group won the Special Distinction of the PinchukArtCentre Prize in 2013, and the Main Prize in 2015. Their works were featured at the Ukrainian National Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale. In 2016, the Open Group curated the show entitled Dependence Degree, Collective Practices of Young Ukrainian Artists 2000-2016 (Wrocław, Poland). In 2017, the group’s work was presented in frames of the Future Generation Art Prize @ Venice 2017 (collateral events of the 57th Venice Biennale). In 2019, the Open Group was the curator of the National Pavilion of Ukraine at the 58th La Biennale di Venezia.

Evgenija Laptii (b. 1992 in Kharkiv, Ukraine) graduated with a specialisation in Art History from the Kharkiv Art Academy. In her work, she uses Photoshop for preparation, embracing the fictional. Reflection with the environment occurs through complete alteration and transformation of the scenes she depicts.

After 24 February, Laptii's focus shifted to occupation. Recent themes in her work include the loss of home, the inability to return to the homeland due to hostilities, as well as the threat of landmines, the feeling of constant fear, and the inability to lead a "normal" life even in peaceful circumstances. Real threats are translated into metaphorical, constant fear. Because even far from the front lines, those who have survived the war endure the threat that the war will catch up with them again.

Viacheslav Poliakov (b. 1986 Kherson) is a visual artist and photographer based in Lviv, Ukraine. He obtained a master’s degree in Art Education from Kherson State University. Started to work as a commercial designer (graphic design, later motion, UX). After university, he joined a media art community grouped around “Totem” cultural center. In 2012 he moved to Lviv, where he forms an artistic duo with Elena Subach. Viacheslav is a finalist of Foam Talents, Vienna Photobook Festival, Circulations, Krakow Photomonth Showoff, Fotofestival Lodz Grand Prix, Prix Levallois. His works were published in the Foam Magazine, The British Journal of Photography, GUP magazine, Lensculture.

Julie Poly When new waves of global crises came back to Europe and, Ukraine became politicly and culturally visible in terms of fighting back the shadow of the cruel Russian empire, it became imperative to talk about the richness and depth of Ukrainian art through the voices of women artists.

Julie Poly (real name Yuliia Polyashchenko), originally from Stakhanov, Lugansk region, but was raised in Kharkiv, which greatly influenced her practice. Until the Russian invasion, the artist worked and lived in Kyiv. Now she is based in Berlin.

Julie has an unusual career path and is one of her generation’s most influential Ukrainian multimedia artists. Her art education started in Kharkiv city with small groups of young artists, art initiatives, and inspiration from the Kharkiv School of Photography, the first community in Ukraine that started to work with conceptual photography. After the Kharkiv period Julie immersed herself in the search for the subject appropriate for creative exploration which is related to her personal, professional experience and “kitschy” local aesthetics that was popular in 1990s—2000s. Like many artists from the millennial generation, Julie reflected on youth identity, predominantly female and queer.

Аn essential aspect of her works is the empowerment of feminine bodies. She boldly mixes irony and eroticism while lovingly showing the diversity of women's ideas of beauty and their practices. Julie Poly’s creativity outlines a wide range of artistic expressions where, in addition to the classical medium of photography, a performative approach to production appears. The involvement of pop culture publications within the creation of conceptual projects expands the spectrum of interaction with wider audiences of influence.

Julie's exhibitions serve as a continuation of her artistic message. Her 'mockumentarian' and slightly grotesque projects often come back to the areas of their genesis, like railway station (Ukrzaliznytsia series) or arcade centres (Kosmolot playing cards). The latter one also appeals to an installation method — every solo show of Julie Poly alway incorporates the audience as a holistic performative statement.

Daria Svertilova (b. 1996 in Odesa, Ukraine) is a photographer and visual artist currently based in Paris and Kyiv. She graduated from École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs of Paris (M.A. in Photography & Video) in 2023.

Svertilova aims to show the fragility of a fleeting moment: exploring connections between past and present, while focusing mainly on the youth and cultural, social and political context in which young people live. Her photography aims to create a sincere and subtle portrait of her generation.

Her work was exhibited across Europe and in the US including Cité des Arts, Paris, Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, Urania, Berlin, Mystetskiy Arsenal, Kyiv, The Gallery at Dobbin Mews, New York, and published in M le Monde, Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, i-D, Libération and The Guardian among others. Daria is a finalist of Palm* Photo Prize 2022.

Marta Syrko (b. 1995) lives in Lviv where she studied at the Lviv National Academy to Arts. Her work contrasts the physical experience of living with how people are presented in images. Syrko’s fantastical photographs are often read as digitally manipulated or even AI-generated, even though she makes them with lo-fi analogue techniques such as smoke, mirrors, water, and even paint. Doing so, she questions the medium of photography, and how it presents reality, ultimately finding a new approach to depicting the human body.

Born in 1989 in Mala Vyska, Kirovohrad Oblast, Dima Tolkachov currently resides and works in Kyiv. As a multidisciplinary artist, he has showcased his work in several group exhibitions in cities including Warsaw, Kyiv, Vilnius, and London. Dima's artistry has been featured in renowned journals such as 5.6 (Kyiv) and EEP (Berlin). His primary focus is photography, where he delves into the existing environment influenced by human activity. He reimagines this environment with a personal touch, often capturing the prevailing uncertainty that is a significant aspect of the world order. Dima studied at Kyiv National Linguistic University and School of Visual Communication in Kyiv.

Valerii Veduta (b. 1983) is a Kyiv based visual artist going through war times. Works has been featured in Vogue Italia, Vogue Greece, Vogue Portugal,,, Officiel-online, Harper's Bazaar, Bird in Flight,, Peta Pixel, Fortune among others. Works are part of the collection of National Center "Ukrainian House".

Kris Vóitkiv, a multimedia artist from Ivano-Frankivsk, mostly works with photography and video. Kris is a participant and curator in the Memory Lab collective and a co-founder of the volunteer organization CVIT, which focuses on supporting military personnel in the hottest spots on the front line. She completed a conceptual photography course at MYPH and primarily works on her projects in Kyiv and Ivano-Frankivsk. Kris has participated in exhibitions in Ukraine, France, Austria, Italy, Poland, and the USA. Her photo works have been featured in collective photo books such as "A Soft Gaze at Intimacy", MYPH, Hrishnytsia Magazine, Swave Magazine among others. In her works, Kris explores the theme of self-identification through sexuality and corporeality. The language of the body is a crucial visual tool in her creations. Collaborating mostly with partners or people from her community, she emphasizes building an emotional connection between the characters and the audience.

Semen Kuchvara is a photography artist originally from Lviv, Ukraine. Before the full-scale war his work was primarily concentrated on youth culture and celebration of life through sexuality and freedom of self expression. While he is in the military on the frontlines defending Ukraine from Russian aggression, his photography changed and is focused on documenting his life at war. The main subject remains the portrayal of young people in their new war-ridden context. He graduated from the “Kharkiv School of Photography” in 2020.