Pogrom

2016-2017

charcoal on paper

The cycle of charcoal drawings titled Pogrom was based on photographic documentation of the Lviv Pogrom in 1941. In his artistic practice, Nikita Kadan also used in a similar way the photographs of the victims of the Volhynia Massacre, victims of the NKVD as well as civilians and prisoners murdered by the Nazis. The work addresses the problem of manipulation of the photographic images of crimes, whose interpretation depends on the imposed framework. It is the caption that situates the victims in time and space, while also pointing to the perpetrators. With their simplified, expressionist form and black-and-white colour scheme, the drawings resemble images from old newspapers. Through understatement and avoidance of details, they universalize events from the distant past, inscribing them in an iconography of pogrom victims sharing common characteristics. After many years, photographs of the victims may happen to be the only evidence, but they can also sometimes become an object of appropriation and an ideologized game of memory. According to the artist, the practice of photographic manipulation for propaganda purposes is an extension of the history of crime.

The work is in collection of Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw (MSN - Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej w Warszawie)