Survivor’s Syndrome in Kiev: the Hudrada curatorial collective built a shanty hut on Mihailovska Plosha (St Michael’s Square)

On the 18th of May 2018 on the anniversary of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars and one of the Ukrainian “Europe Days” the Hudrada curatorial collective gathered at Kiev’s historic St Michael’s Square to build the shell of a ruined hut from a Roma settlement which had formerly stood in the city. This work became a symbol for the shared fates of different ethnic and social groups who found themselves subjected to repressive actions in Ukraine. It was also a public protest against pogroms of Roma settlements.

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On a Friday afternoon, the Hudrada curatorial group working together with architects and human rights activists initiated the collective building of a shanty hut. This anarchitectural construction was built according to the template of a ruined hovel that had been torn down in 2017 during the destruction of a temporary Roma settlement in Kyiv’s Dnepr district.

This work by Hudrada was dedicated to anarchitectural forms and to societies who create shanty huts in urban spaces, but above all it was a declaration against xenophobia and acts of aggression triggered by it.

In this example, the shanty hut embodies the vulnerability and fragility of communities who arrive and disappear spontaneously. At the same time it can become a disquieting object when set against the logic of the majesty of monumental symbols of power.

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The basis of the project Union of Hovels: the Survivor Syndrome is photographic documentation of a ruined Roma settlement made by Yevgenia Belorusets.

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The author of the architectural project is Dana Kosmina.

Survivor’s Syndrome is a term which emerged in the 1960s as a means of describing the condition of both victims and executioners (as well as their children) who had lived through large scale persecutions and mass murders during the 20th century. The defining element of this syndrome is that its sufferers experience sharp feelings of guilt connected to no more than the fact that they are alive and in existence.  

The name chosen for this work by Hudrada points to the presumption that the single hut we’ve rebuilt (who magically knows about the destruction of his remaining brothers) suffers from this syndrome.

The Survivor Syndrome – is a reminder too of the fact that throughout the 20th Century right across Ukraine, all kinds of social and ethnic groups have found themselves subject to repression. Our goal today is to keep these pages of history where they belong, in the past.

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Further Information:

On how representatives of radical right-wing organisations attempted to disrupt the event can be read in a public Facebook post by Hudrada curatorial collective member Yevgenia Belorusets here (in Russian).  

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Union of hovels2 POSTRELDOCU

Event partners:

Prostory magazine with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany
Method Fund
Eastern Human Rights Group
Critical Design Studio 12345678910

Union of Hovels – is a long term project by the curatorial group Hudrada devoted to developing the idea of Anarchitecture. The first instalment of Union of Hovels too place on the Venice Lido during the 55th Venice Biennale.

Hudrada is a Ukrainian curatorial group and experimental platform for interdisciplinary collaboration. Its members include artists, architects, critics and writers.

Contact information: prostoryred@gmail.com