Exhibition "Five Elements of War or the Evolution of Diсtatorship" - Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (UIMA) in Chicago

"Five Elements of War" is an exhibit of five extraordinary installations by Daria Marchenko and Daniel Green, two contemporary artists from Ukraine, who expressed their opposition of the military aggression in the Donbas region of Ukraine on the border with RussiaVIDEO ( UKRAINIAN INSTITUTE) 


The exhibit opened on August 18 in Chicago at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art and will be on display until September 18. It is an important exhibit for its message but also for its original artistic approach. Motria Melnyk, president of Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, welcomed the guests at the opening, which was attended by several hundred viewers, including Bishop Benedict of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the consuls of Barbados, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Mexico, the Consul General of Ukraine Larysa Gerasko, and many aficionados of the art community of Chicago, as well as art lovers of the Ukrainian-American community.

The artists follow the rich history of protest art and create emotionally charged works about the causes, turmoil and the consequences of war. In order to bridge the divide between the viewer and the reality of the invasion, the artists incorporate bullets, shell casings, documents and shrapnel from the frontlines of war-torn eastern Ukraine.

The installation is multisensory and is meant to elicit a visceral reaction in the viewer. Each of the five works speaks to a different aspect of the war. The five works displayed are Heart of War, Flesh of War, Honor, Brain of War, which underscores the role of propaganda, and Face of War, which depicts the prominent and familiar figure responsible for the conflict.

The portrait of Putin is at the center of the exhibition. It is made of shell cases and represents the face of the hybrid war that changes all the time. Lighting changes the face of Putin to show his changing moods and strategies, and particularly focuses on his eyes that reveal his intentions. The idea of Putin’s changing face is brilliantly conceived. It has a close-up element, raised in relief within the surface of the portrait which provides different ways of looking at Putin depending on the lighting.

The exhibit also includes Brain of War, which is a representation of a large Russian grenade shaped like a huge vase filled with cameras and with a film reel producing fake news representing a media war that is exploding into the world community.

The Flesh of War has two giant female figures between two continents made of bullets and shelves with the connecting tissue of the two women, one looking at the viewer from the front, another from the back, representing one giving, another receiving. Women bear great suffering during war, being victims of violence and aggression, protecting their homes, and then being forced to escape as refugees with their families.

As Daria Marchenko said during her interview on the program Worldview on public radio, “After people are killed, what is left is the bullets and the parts of weapons, that is why I chose bullets and debris of weapons to represent the lives of each individuals they killed”.

Both artists participated in the Maidan Revolution and saw many of their friends killed. Daniel Green stated during his radio interview that he wanted to do something to make a difference, “Art sometimes has more power than wars. Art has power to provoke long lasting changes.”

The artists Daria Marchenko and Daniel Green turned activism into their art work. The channeled their energy into creating a powerful exhibit that has sent a message throughout the world about the folly and deceit of war, about the true face of a dictator who uses military aggression, hybrid war, information war, to invade another country, to destabilize the world community, and cause the death of thousands of innocent people.

The exhibit would not be possible without the support of Raymond Staples, the sponsor who recognized the talent of the artists and the potential for the exhibit to communicate the important voice about Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and how distortions of information, ambition, and politics take the lives of innocent people. His reaction enabled the continuation of this voice to be further heard, by facilitating the Face of War exhibition in Washington DC at the Rayburn Foyer of the US Congress and at the Capitol Hill Club. Over 4,000 publications and video reports in newspapers and news services around the world featured the Face of War, including The Wall St. Journal, the BBC, the Associated Press NBC and ABC, the Guardian, and many more.



The success of the exhibit in Chicago was due to the professionalism and dedication of the new team at the UIMA, curator Adrienne Kochman, operations and marketing manager Victoria Cooper, and assistant curator Olivia Rozdolsky.



Chicago sponsors of the exhibits are Selfreliance Foundation of Selfreliance Ukrainian American Federal Credit Union and Heritage Foundation of First Security Bank. Their continued sponsorship is a major reason for the community’s ability to present programming.

In her closing remarks, Motria Melnyk stated, “As you can see, Ukrainians are a tough people. Putin will never win with us. “Слава Україні”! (Glory to Ukraine)


Marta Farion

UIMA Vice-president

© Dasha Marchenko, 2020