Vitaliy Matukhno was born in the city of Lysychansk, Luhansk region, where he lived for 23 years. After the start of a full-scale war in Ukraine, he was evacuated to Lviv, where he currently lives. Matukhno’s activity as an activist and artist is fully dedicated to the place where he was born. In the Luhansk region, he was involved in the development of local culture and art through various festivals, exhibitions and parties. The main tool in this activity was his project “Gareleya Neotodryosh” — an experimental exhibition space for young artists from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
As an artist, Matukhno works with digital and analog photography, electronic music and mixed-media. The main topics of his artistic research are the history of the Luhansk region, the deindustrialization of Donbas as well as the methods of preserving collective, personal and industrial memory through art.
Story of experience of risk, relocation and/or exile
Artist’s account: In Lysychansk, the military escalation was noticeable as early as January 2022, when Russia started making baseless accusations to justify a further offensive. I first experienced the war in 2014, so I knew what to expect if Lysychansk was reoccupied. On 24 February 2022, I woke up to explosions like most Ukrainians. With the first explosions, I realized that I had to leave the city because Lysychansk is very close to the demarcation line and border with Russia.
Back in 2014, the occupation administration of the city was compiling lists of activists they would hunt down. They made them publicly available to intimidate them, and the same thing is happening now. Therefore, I realized that if I stayed in the occupied city, I would pose a threat to my environment. I left the city together with my partner, and we managed to get on an evacuation train to Lviv, where I now live and continue my work.
I haven’t been home for two years and I don’t know if I’ll have the opportunity to do so again. My parents’ house was already raided by the Russian military, where they found “literature banned in the Russian Federation”. My partner’s house is no longer there, it was destroyed by an air raid. I currently remain in Ukraine and hope to return home.
Projects created during the residency period
Since the beginning of the full-scale war, Matukhno has kept a visual diary. For him, photography is a reflective medium that helps him document his state of being and explore unfamiliar surroundings. He mostly uses black-and-white film. To continue his work as a photographer, Matukhno plans to set up a home photo development studio, which will make the production of images faster and financially easier.
This programme is organized by Perpetuum Mobile (PM) as part of the Artists at Risk (AR)-Network in partnership with UNESCO and with the support of Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Teiger Foundation.