Documenting Maidan

Documenting Maidan

Prostory Nr 8 (Среда, 09 Апреля 2014)
The special English-language issue of the magazine Prostory is dedicated to the Ukrainian protest movement that began in November of 2013 and was first united under the general name of "EuroMaidan" later changed to "Maidan." This issue was planned and created in the context of protest, and it didn't aim to fully analyze the ongoing events. The contributions are united by their documentary, literary, and fictional approaches to reflection upon the latest political and social events.

Initially, the Maidan was covered closely by mass media, and from the very beginning of its existence there were different interpretations of one and the same political events. In their metamorphoses and intersections, propaganda and anti-propaganda participated in creating the myth of the Maidan and impacted the way it was understood both in and out of Ukraine. Ukrainian and foreign contributors to the "Documenting Maidan" issue document their own presence in this space of protest and talk about its unheard voices.

The editors chose to present a general view of the protest, which is fragmented. This manifests itself in genres such as the literary diary or the essay, spaces where documentary practice coexists without separation from art.

The editorial conversation that opens the journal examines the extreme nature of life during protest, a peculiar, protracted condition, memorialized in acts of state violence or other episodes from the Maidan. In "Protesting Protest," English poet and essayist Patrick Mackie writes about the lightness and speed with which disturbing news can cross state borders, about contemplating a stranger's protest, and about that transfiguration the political gesture can undergo when it is transposed into different realities.

German translator Claudia Dathe keeps stock of the sometimes inexcusable, often deplorable misunderstandings that emerge as a result of such crossings and transposition. Both she and another German author, Tobias Münchmeyer, speak of ideologies that appropriate protest events while reporting on them.

It is difficult to find an apt formula for the texts by Ukrainian authors Nataliya Chermalykh, Taras Fedirko, Borys Khersonsky, and Nelia Vakhovska, yet they have something in common. They are antinomian texts with a sort of "double life," combining a nearly objective clarity of vision with the readiness to subject one's own experiences, decisions, and judgments to a test. The documentary poetics of Vasyl Lozynskyi and the verbatim theatre piece "Blue Bus" by Dmytro Levytsky are infused through and through with the stoic demeanour of direct speech and quotation. Live spoken intonation dilutes the syntax and appears to scorn literature in favour of an awakening into a real world from a long sleep.

Work by Lada Nakonechna is another example of the rhythmic qualities of unprocessed speech with, in her case, accidental photographs serving as a foundation. Her series of drawings "From left to right" tells something about the despair, blindness, and emptiness that we discover in the present, and the movement that we have to make in striving to anticipate the future. Drawings by Dan Perjovschi, Anatoli Belov and Alevtina Kakhidze are seeking a primeval shape of events. They appear to be pointing to the existence of a simple, "unspoilt" experience, an image that is borrowed from Wordsworth's conceptions of childhood.

The works of art and fictional texts of this issue are united by a sort of ideological caution. They attempt to deconstruct ideological constructions created by interpretations of this protest, rather than present their own to the readers.

Table of contents 

Foreword (translated by Dina Gusejnova)

Editors' discussion Maidan: collected pluralities (translated by Ostap Kin with Ali Kinsella) 

Short chronology of Maidan (translated by Tania Katsbert)

Bogdan Storokha Comment (translated by Anna Gunin)

Nelia Vakhovska They've brought down Lenin (translated by Anna Gunin)

Lada Nakonechna Writing about Maidan (translated by Larissa Babij) 

Taras Fedirko Attempt at a chronology from a distance (translated by Jessica Zychowicz)

Tobias Munchmeyer World spirit on foot (translated by Shaun Whiteside) 

Vlada Ralko Watercolours Interview with Mark Belorusets (translated by Rick DeLong) 

Anastasia Afanasyeva Poem (translated by Jessica Zychowicz) 

Claudia Dathe Translating the Euromaidan (translated by Nadezda Kinsky) 

Yevgenia Belorusets Photographs from the series: Maidan. Occupied spaces 

Patrick Mackie Protesting the protest 

Vasyl Lozynskyi Poems (translated by Ostap Kin and Ali Kinsella)

Dmitro Levytsky Blue bus (translated by Rahim Rahemtulla, Anton Stepanov and Jessica Zychowicz)

Boris Khersonsky Diary (translated by Charlotte Hobson with thanks to Natalia Bukia-Peters) 

Taras Fedirko Poems (translated by Jessica Zychowicz) 

Alevtina Kakhidze Drawings

Nataliya Tchermalykh Warm cold winter (translated by Natalia Bukia-Peters and Victoria Field)