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Date & Location

Jøssingfjord Vitenmuseum, Norway, July 9 – December 31, 2023


Curated by Nathalie Hoyos and Rainald Schumacher [Office for Art] in collaboration with the initiator and project manager Per Arne Log.


Maria Kulikovska was born in Kerch, a city on the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine, one of the former socialist republics of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), in 1988. Her childhood was shaped by the early consequences of the communist bloc's structural collapse. While a few reaped enormous wealth, most succumbed to poverty and a sense of hopelessness.

Maria Kulikovska studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in Kyiv from 2007 to 2013, graduating with a master's in architecture. She also completed a further master's degree in fine arts at Konstfack, University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm.

The artist belongs to a generation that welcomes the country's move toward the West, toward an open democracy and the values of the European Union, away from rampant corruption and the control of the economy and politics by a handful of oligarchs. The Ukrainian government's decision not to sign an association agreement with the European Union in late 2013 led to an uprising and the "Revolution of Dignity". With the Euromaidan protests from November 2013 until February 2014, Maria Kulikovska's life and work were invariably linked with the resulting political events. Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 rendered her a homeless refugee, registered as number 254. In the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, the military of the self-proclaimed people's republic occupied an independent art center and destroyed her first major publicly exhibited sculptures from 2012—casts of her body made of perishable soap. In Russia, she was placed on a list of undesirable artists. She has worked together with her partner Oleg Vinnichenko since 2016.

With the start of Russia's open war against Ukraine, Maria Kulikovska fled from Kyiv to western Ukraine. She has been an artist-in-residence at the OÖ Landes-Kultur GmbH in Linz, Austria, in 2022, and is currently artist-in-residence at the Helsinki International Artist Program in Helsinki, Finland.

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The exhibition includes artworks from a period of more than ten years. The artist's own body is at the center of the work, concretely, rather than the woman's body as an abstract form. Her body is the battlefield on which and in which often-ambivalent emotions emerge and wrestle with one another. Personal experiences, disappointments, and confrontations carry out their inner struggles in this body. They wrangle over what will provide the stronger motivation: despair and fear, or confidence and courage. Whether hatred and vengeance or love and compassion are the stronger forces will be decided in this body. The dramas of fears, desires, and hopes take place in this body.

Again and again, she acts in and with her body in performative actions. She seeks reconciliation, but also forgiveness, and looks for a seemingly impossible harmony with life's beauty, per se, which in reality often shows up bloody, smeared, doomed to die, and in a miserable physical state.

The exhibition would like to mediate insight into an artistic life that is understood as action, that consistently tries to reconciliate moral and human catastrophe with respect for the wealth and mystery of life.

“My Body is a Battlefield” was presented with a slightly modified selection of works in 2022 at the FC Francisco Carolinum – Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art in Linz.

The exhibition at the Jøssingfjord Vitenmuseum is realized with the generous support of:

Rogaland Fylkeskommune
Fritt Ord

Rekefjord Stone
Tellenes Vindpark
Dalane Energi

Sogndalstrand Kulturhotel
Arvid Holmen

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