City of Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico: ALTERnativa Ediciones, 2021. Paperback. Number 3 of 4 copies. A powerful and personal piece about the war in Ukraine. This artist's book juxtaposes a personal interpretation of the artist Ioulia Akhmadeeva's family history including her grandfather's involvement in WWII with the current war in Ukraine. Central to the book is a red velvet dress which was constructed from a bundle of velvet taken from Czechoslovakia as a war trophy by the artist's grandfather, a major in the Russian army during WWII. The velvet was passed down in her family and was eventually made into a dress by the artist's mother - and was worn by all three of the artist's daughters. While not directly involved, the artist continues to feel guilt for her grandfather's actions in WWII, which are represented in this book by the red velvet dress. The artist is of Russian and Ukrainian descent with much of her family still residing in Russia, so the war and political turmoil of the region are particularly poignant for her. In this work she compares the actions of her grandfather in WWII to the actions of Russian soldiers looting and bombing Ukraine. She shows this through images of her family, the symbolic dress, and fragments of images from WWII alongside with current photographic images of the war in Ukraine. On different pages she has blacked out the face of her grandfather, written a story about a Czech girl that could have received a velvet dress (rather than her own daughters), and has drawn bombs flying near her grandfather's Russian star of honor. Now a resident of Mexico, where she has lived for over thirty years, most of the text is in Spanish.
The artist created this book as a work of resilience, penance, and protest. She states: "On February 24, 2022 at 6 in the morning my home country Russia started this massacre without announcing it, just like Adolf Hitler, who invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 at 4 in the morning. Women and children are killed, sister cities are under constant bombardment and utterly destroyed. Putin's propaganda of the last 20 years transforms and controls the minds of 70% of the people inside Russia, who support his war and geopolitical plans. The protests against the war of the other 30% who think, reason and are not afraid are punished, censorship does not allow publishing or sharing the truth... The responsibility is not individual. And the change will not come alone."
The book is a collection of 12 unbound postcard pages, a colophon, and a small velvet dress hand sewn by Diana Jaime at Alternativa editions based on a design by the book artist. All of the items are housed in a blue cloth covered clamshell box with yellow title to front board, bound in yellow ribbon, and magnetic closure. The dress can be affixed to the interior of the front panel of the box with a removable magnet. The postcards are inkjet printed on cotton paper, reproduced from color lithography prints by the artist and reproductions of photographic images of war taken from public domain social media sites. The verso of each postcard is printed with a title, imagery sources, and (like a typical postcard) lines to write an address with a box to affix a stamp. The pages are formatted as postcards to encourage the viewer to mail them - in order to create awareness of the war in the Ukraine and to become an anti-war activist.
Text in Spanish with English translation available upon request.
This project was a result of the art residency of the ìace Foundation for Contemporary Art during March 2022, Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was supported by a grant from the Mexican National System of Creators (SNCA) 2019 - 2022. This book is held in the Special Collections of Stanford University Library. ARTB/030923. Fine. More