Inspired by the recent events in Ukraine, the works that will feature in the exhibition are embedded within a wider discourse of violent conflict and its implications on public life and the private self. Using art as her weapon, Kulikovska underlines the mental and physical toll that war can take on women in particular, so often subjecting their bodies to abuse and undermining their position in society.
This exhibition will open in two parts. Part I, Flowers of Democracy (FoD), will be a continuation of Kulikovska’s most prolific art action. FoD was originally launched in the summer of 2015 in Ukraine as a way of highlighting the plight of women in the ongoing conflict in the region. The FoD 2016 aims to take the concept beyond borders and connect with a wider dialogue around gender equality and feminism. Activists, artists, academics, entrepreneurs, and volunteers of all races and backgrounds will join Kulikovska in creating their own unique vagina moulds. These painted plaster sculptures will be unveiled on May 1 2016 in various locations around London.
Part II of the exhibition is titled ‘9th of May’, in references Victory Day, a holiday marking the surrender of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union. In 2015, the Ukrainian government approved a package of laws on “decommunisation” in an effort to re-write an official version of Ukrainian 20th century history that’s separated from Russia. The laws ban Nazi and Communist symbols; and they replaced the Soviet term “Great Patriotic War” with the European Second World War. But for Maria, the idea of celebrating victory over fascism is a facade and a propaganda tool to inflate a sense of nationalism in order to cover up the current authoritarian dictatorship.
The 9th of May exhibition will feature a series of sculptures, ceramics and sketches to show the fragile relationship between the human body and the external context of war. For this exhibition, Kulikovska has recreated sculpture pieces from previous bodies of work, which the artist regards a poetic extension of her own corporeal body. Sculptures from Homo Bulla, 254, and Flowers of Democracy, which were originally created and destroyed by the war, will now be re-birthed and reclaimed as a message of hope and action. On the 9th May, Kulikovska’s works will be a celebration of the power of art. “Marcel Duchamp once claimed, “I don’t believe in art, I believe in artists.” But I believe in art more than artists.” – Maria Kulikovska