Oana Stoica, performance art critic

Bagajele abandonului

This is Obama the bear, my flatmate. I hate taking selfies, so I photograph him or our other flatmate, Porgy the pig. The little beasts are usually reading, watching movies or enjoying flowers and fruits, these are the poses in which they appear on social media. When I took this photo, somewhere in a corner of the internet, people were terribly amused that some American security agency had predicted a Russian invasion of Ukraine on 23 February 2022. Hahaha, how stupid! Look what didn’t happen. I didn’t pay attention to it, it was just a thud in the background, what a bunch of morons, I thought, playing at war. I was reading then, quite by chance, “Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex” by Oksana Zabuzhko, a Ukrainian writer delivering a feminist discourse grafted onto the history of modern Ukraine. On 24 February, the first news that I read at 6 AM was that Russia had invaded Ukraine. Total shock, a two-week silence, impossible to leave the house, impossible to interact with people. It was the suffocating shock of the war brought to life from the dozens of WWII books I had read, because even with drones, the war in Ukraine looks exactly like 80 years ago.

Photos of refugees flood the internet. Many are carrying toys. I see teddy bears, some of them giant ones. A picture of a man carrying such a bear leads to a heated discussion, why did he take it, it wasn’t necessary, these are not refugees. The first buds of misanthropy, the first steps towards the gulf that will grow between us. I totally understand the man with the stuffed polar bear. If need be, I would have rescued the bear as well. And the pig.

I’ve never thought that my generation could live a direct war. That Russia could once again become the Eastern monster that spreads terror. And yet the war is here, at the border, close to our skin. As of 24 February 2022, my life has changed dramatically. News about the war in the morning and late at night, Ukrainian literature to read, many political and social texts about the war, Ukraine and democracy. And the deepening rift between us. The world split in two again. I don’t know what the end will be, but I’m moving forward.

Last Day of Peace, First Night of War is an interactive digital installation, part of the Museum of Abandonment, a digital wall of images showing the last days of peace collected from mobile phones.