ArtCult Gallery

Mykhailo Rai

From the Concentration of the Will at M17Storyteller88 x 104 cm, limited print, 2022Price on request

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    Mykhailo Rai's occupation diary.
    February 24. Beginning
    On February 24, I woke up in my native Kherson a little earlier than usual. I was worried, like two days ago, when I went with my wife to Zaliznyi Port (resort village) to walk on the shore of the Black Sea. In the last six months, I often dreamed and had visions of tanks on the streets of the city. When information about a possible attack by Russia began to leak into the news space, I talked about it with my wife.
    I offered her what, in my opinion, a real man should offer: to go abroad for a while to a safe place. I had no idea that she would laugh at me, that this land, on which she was born and raised, was more important to her than her safety. Or maybe she just didn't believe me and my "visions". Be that as it may, long before the start of the war, we agreed that no matter how the circumstances turned out, we would not run.
    This is our home and we will protect it. So on February 24, when I heard the roar of a jet engine and what sounded like an explosion, subconsciously I already understood what was happening. After a while, my mother called me, which she usually didn't do so early. As I looked at the display of my phone, I already knew what she was going to tell me, but I was still scared. She informed me about a full-scale attack by Russia, it was already being talked about on TV. I told my wife about what was happening, but she could not believe it for a long time.
    I asked her again if she would like to go out of town with me and got the same answer. After a few hours, we calmed down and began to act. First of all, we made a list of everything needed for 2 weeks (we didn't think it could be longer). The next step was to call our relatives and ask them to make a list of what they needed. This is how we spent the day. They went around shops and supermarkets that would be emptied in a couple of days, destroyed and looted, maneuvering between people with suitcases and cars leaving the city.

From the Concentration of the Will at M17Butterfly's dream120 x 201 cm, limited print, 2022Price on request

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    Mykhailo Rai's occupation diary.
    March 5. Butterfly's dream (text added after release)
    The 90s are on the streets. 30-meter queues for bread, in the center a rally for a free Ukraine. The covid does not affect anyone anymore, it doessupplanted the contagion even worse. It happened on the first of March. The past few days were stressful, I kept my phone out of my hands,reading news that unfolded faster than one could imagine. When I woke up in the morning, I first of all went to a group of telegrams where the latest events were published based on reports from the citizens themselves. There, photos of Russian soldiers walking past the windows of our neighborhood were widely spread. In a few minutes I saw them under my window. 
    I was hurt and did not understand why they were walking the streets of my city without any resistance from our side. My wife joined me, we stood together on the balcony and shot them through the blinds, trying to count and see what they were armed with. We hoped that our video sent to the Telegram chatbot would allow our military to do something, so that they did not leave us here, alone with the enemy.
    Unfortunately, my hopes were not in vain. When the Russian soldiers had almost finished their round of our neighborhood and were turning in the direction of the village of Kuibysheve, where the equipment was waiting for them, the fighters of the territorial defense appeared. The fight began under our balcony window, perhaps to be remembered (and captured on video) for the rest of our lives. 
    On top of one despair, another was quickly superimposed, because a group of a dozen people with machine guns in down jackets and knitted hats on the old style 99 came to oppose the Russian horde armed to the teeth with machine guns and grenade launchers, which were covered by armored vehicles. The absurdity of the situation seemed to be emphasized by a man with with a white bag in his hands, who, as if nothing had happened, was walking, desperately not hearing the shots, along the street a few meters from the firing positions of the Teroborona soldiers. They drew his attention to how they began to shoot at them with automatic grenade launchers and large-caliber machine guns.
    Fortunately, most of these people were able to escape from the fire, which cannot be said about the fighters who died on the same day in Buzkovy Park and the fire station on Naftovykyv Street. But under our window, our fighters were able to delay the advance of Russian equipment into the city for 5 hours. We watched them from the same window, already without vain hopes, as Tigers, Patriots and armored personnel carriers at 5-10 meters per minute carefully step into the "bright future". Kazkar said that the "special operation" to destroy the country's sovereignty will continue until its goal is achieved. He did not say that the sanctions will continue until their goal is achieved.

From the Concentration of the Will at M17Liberation80 x 120 cm, limited print, 2022Price on request

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    Mykhailo Rai's occupation diary.
    November 11. Liberation
    For the fifth day, there were interruptions in electricity, water and communication in the city. We did not fully understand what was happening around us. Conflicting information came from various sources. Everyone was busy rescuing products frozen in defeated refrigerators. I was told about cars with Ukrainian flags in the city at the store where I went to buy food. Like many other Kherson people, my psyche refused to believe what was happening. There was a high probability of provocations by the Russian military, who had changed into the uniform of the Armed Forces, Ukrainian mass media warned about this. 
    From the very beginning of the occupation, I believed that Kherson would be liberated, but I did not expect that it could happen so suddenly and so quietly. That there will be no artillery shelling and street battles, with which the Russian military intimidated the townspeople. After consulting, my wife and I decided to go to the city center to see everything with our own eyes. Cautiously and uncertainly, people gathered in the central square, which has the symbolic name "Freedom Square". Before our appearance, the Ukrainian flag was flying not only on the pedestal where Lenin once stood, but also over the city administration building. 
    The pro-Russian posters, which had been insulting for months, had by this time been rudely torn down and burned. We saw them burning on the sidewalk, turning into symbolic ashes. Not only the townspeople were cautious, but also the soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, who drove into the city in cars for reconnaissance. They looked clearly tired and stressed. It seems that they too could not believe that the Russian military was no longer there and were intently looking into the crowd, expecting to see disguised soldiers there. 
    I will always remember the symbolic scene on the Maidan. One of the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine climbed onto the roof of the off-road vehicle in which he came to the city in order to shoot from a height the crowd of grateful Kherson citizens. They saw it against the background of a cinema with a huge inscription "Ukraine" and shouted in unison "Kherson is Ukraine!".
    I still did not fully believe that Kherson was under the control of the Armed Forces, but this was not the last test for my nervous system. I had yet to realize that there were so many residents left in a city that had previously seemed extinct. It seems that they all went out together with flags to the roads and squares to meet the Ukrainian soldiers. Cars festively honked at passers-by with Ukrainian symbols, among them there were many children. 
    Probably, the largest crowd stood at the intersection of Ivan Bohun and Kyril and Methodius streets. It was difficult to drive through even one of the four lanes of the road. People stood in the middle of the road, waving flags, and when cars with Ukrainian soldiers appeared, they surrounded them from all sides to hug and thank them.
    We did not hide our feelings, there were flowers and tears in our eyes, someone even knelt down in the middle of the road. All this was very similar to the celebration of the victory of the national team in the World Football Championship, only there were practically no people who were indifferent to it. Against this background, the lack of electricity, heat, water and communication could not overshadow the happiness of the townspeople, who felt free for the first time in a long time. For more than eight months, we have felt differently. There were moments when doubts were overcome, there were times of despair and apathy. But, as Rilke very well said: "Just keep going, no feeling will be the last."
    When I was at home and recalling the events of my pre-war peaceful life, I suddenly realized that for many years I had chosen to run away, betray and build fences in everyday decisions. First of all, from myself. So what was it? The city is free, we defeated the enemy, but to do this, we had to free our inner Kherson from the invaders who occupied it so long ago that no one even remembers. 
    Which hid in it imperceptibly for the townspeople, penetrating into all authorities and influencing all their decisions. Because those who decided to stay here and stand for freedom to the end were first of all fighting their own fear, the invisible ally of all dictators and nuclear warlords. This passed test is the healing of the soul, the triumph of faith. Proof that there is a force far more powerful than the brute physical. This is the victory of universal human values and its best qualities over the tyranny of fear, the victory of the spiritual over the material. To get it is the highest good for a person!

From the Concentration of the Will at M17Kherson TV100 x 100 cm, limited print, 2022Price on request

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    Mykhailo Rai's occupation diary.
    July 22. Kherson TV
    Two months have already passed since we have been living without the Internet and telephone connection. Local providers, which continue to work in the region, receive all traffic through Crimea. They do not have the technical ability to connect all those who are left, like me, without the Internet. Therefore, for me and many citizens, it has become a norm of life to access the network under the door of a neighbor, in a cafe, under the facade of a store or pharmacy. Lemonade is sold in places with a particularly large concentration of Internet surfers in the summer heat.
    Billboards are plastered with posters with the slogan that Kherson is a city with Russian history. It is not clear why we should forget about the Ukrainian one, but it is especially worth noting Prince Potemkin of Tavriyskyi, whose monument stands in the square in the center of the city. By the way, it was restored when Kolobok Saldo was serving his second term as mayor here. It was thanks to the prince that the term "Potemkin village" appeared. With the development of technology, the need for scenery has disappeared and everything is handled by a film crew of film amateurs and pseudo-journalists. 
    Many people saw how the Antoniv bridge became a sieve, but few people know that the day before that it was repaired before the arrival of a great official from Moscow. Or that Russian soldiers exchange rubles for hryvnias to save money in the central market. I don't know if Kazkar notices how he turned into a Scarecrow and how his favorites fool him, or whether villages are built on his orders. By the word "fight", he obviously means to drive here more morons and conscripts on canned outdated tanks and wheelbarrows that have no analogues. Among the Russian soldiers, both of them often flash here.
    With the approach of the offensive of the armed forces, another wave of panic covered the city. You can feel it when you enter its borders - the space thickens and collapses. But with all the absurdity and horror that is happening around, love, joy and unshakable confidence in the victory of the spirit over the fear and indifference that they try to impose on us can remain in the mind. Being in the thick of war or many kilometers away from it, one can remain happy and compassionate. 
    As in this work, everything depends on where our attention is directed. The war is not only on the battlefield, but also inside each of us. Who will win in it: fear or courage, compassion or indifference, unity or discord, love or hate is up to you, but your personal victory is a huge contribution to the common victory. And not only of Ukraine, but also of all humanity.

From the Concentration of the Will at M17Day of insects114 x 80 cm, limited print, 2022Price on request

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    Mykhailo Rai's occupation diary.
    May 4. Day of insects
    The Russian flag flies over most of the city's administrative buildings. Yesterday, the keys to the city administration building were taken from Mayor Ihor Kolykhaev. The Russian military put Oleksandr Kobets in his place. Ex-mayor Volodymyr Saldo was appointed governor of the "bright future" of our region, a man from a dark past already familiar to the people of Kherson. He did not have time to die physically, but he died politically in 2014. Now he has the opportunity to thank his former voters, who repeatedly brought him to power, with their contribution to the theater of the absurd with possible forced mobilization.
    At night, something big and loud flew to the center of the city. It is not clear why and from where, it broke windows in many houses. Judging by the operational journalist of Russian TV, who arrived at the place faster than the MARVEL superhero in a clean ironed shirt and with a cameraman at the ready, the event was rather staged. Moreover, it was a warm-up, because the highlight of the program was the burning reeds, the gorgeous view that opened from the "Arrestantka". Since cinemas and shopping centers in the city are closed, many residents have left their cozy and pseudo-safe apartments in search of free entertainment. 
    We started our journey from the rather crowded main street of the city, where the post-war Okean Elsa was playing, not Oleg Gazmanov. Clouds of thick black smoke could already be seen closer to Ushakov Avenue. Intrigued by the nighttime arrival, the city's residents followed it like a beacon, hoping to see a Russian military object or equipment engulfed in flames. But at the end of the journey, they were disappointed: "It's just a reed." Along with them, the development of the plot was watched on their biological screens by the Russian military, who guarded the red flag near the eternal fire with the entire crew of their Ural.
    In another universe, but in the same place, thousands of residents, gripped by the fear of the impending referendum, tried to leave the region to the controlled territory of Ukraine at their own peril and risk. There was a completely different movie on their screens. Despite the fact that officially the Russian military does not release them from the region, the most persistent still manage to achieve what they want. 
    Someone spent six nights under fire in their cars in villages destroyed by artillery, someone's travel cost money, phones and personal belongings, and someone even freedom. People are stopped and checked not only by the military at numerous roadblocks, but also by groups of soldiers who just loiter along the road with their own film about the Nazis and their manuals. Each inspection usually ends with brainwashing, confiscation of cigarettes, food or a certain amount, especially if the men do not have a military ID.
    The paradox of this plot is that people often end up in the very cinema they are running away from. Can a referendum be held in Kherson? I see no trace of his training or support from the local population. All that can happen is a movie about a referendum for viewers of a series about a special operation and liberation. He who does not fight for minds and hearts only needs territory. For this, a dozen "useful idiots" and "Urals" with personnel are enough to guard every flag of the sixth part of the land, in which there is no place for people.

From the Concentration of the Will at M17Z112 x 80 cm, limited print, 2022Price on request

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    Mykhailo Rai's occupation diary.
    March 21. Z zombies
    Today was probably the last rally for Ukrainian Kherson. The Russian Guard, which arrived in the city a day earlier, dispersed the protesters with stun grenades and automatic rounds. There are wounded. Meetings are now banned, and people continue to disappear. Officials in the villages are increasingly being picked up and taken to an unknown destination. 
    Most likely, for polite conversations about the prospects for the creation of the "Kherson People's Republic". Ukrainian humanitarian aid was not missed again. In Chornobayivka, in addition to Russian servicemen, 3 million chickens are starving to death in one of the largest poultry farms in Europe. There is tension in the air. Many understand that the relative silence that has lasted in recent days is the calm before the storm.
    I often hear from people in the country of storytellers that they are not interested in events in Ukraine, because they are "apolitical". And it happens that they simply do not believe us and tell us fairy tales heard in their official fairy-tale media. Of course, it is much more pleasant to believe that you are involved in the great cause of a great nation than in the military blackmail of neighboring countries and the killing of the civilian population. Not for the first time, millions of people have become like zombies, unable to see, hear, think, speak and empathize. Apolitical is not a term that can be used to justify cowardice and indifference to barbarism, which is carried out at your expense and under your responsibility. 
    Apoliticalness is the powerlessness to change something in your country and the reason that someone replaces your goals with their own, destroying your life. Soon the fog will clear and you will face reality at full speed, as it once was in the 90s of the last century. The more persistently you resist it, the faster you move towards it and the tighter it becomes. Having collided, you will plunge into the most unpleasant emotion for a long time - shame. But only if you didn't do what you could.

From the Concentration of the Will at M17Refugees90 x 101 cm, limited print, 2022Price on request

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    Mykhailo Rai's occupation diary.
    September 11. Refugees
    "Life never becomes unbearable under the pressure of circumstances, but only from a lack of purpose and meaning" - Victor Frankl
    Millions of Ukrainians fled the war. But many of them never found peace. It seems to be safe and happy, but there is emptiness and pain in the heart. And the thing is not that relatives, house, work and favorite things remained in Ukraine. There is still meaning in Ukraine. The same meaning that transforms any wanderings and sufferings into trials. 
    And the paradox is that those who stayed and look death in the face every day, risking their lives on the battlefield or in cities under fire, feel more alive and happy than ever! Because they know why. The lack of purpose and meaning in life pushes people to terrible wars in the name of delusional ideas, one of which we live now. Yes, for many Russians, "Russky Mir" is an escape from the emptiness and sense of meaninglessness of existence.
    The meaning is destructive and completely artificial. Neither war nor epidemic can deprive us of it, just as they cannot give it. They can only encourage us to find it for ourselves where it has always been. Art, business, politics, any achievements are just tools. The real thing for which it is worth living and enduring wandering is the way to oneself. This path is changeable and never final, it is shown to us by life itself through the events and situations in which it places us every new moment. Through our actions that follow them.
    No matter where we go, our fear always follows. You can't escape from it, you can only overcome it, and as a rule, behind it lies our true purpose. It is not security and pleasure that make us happy, but true meaning. Finding him is our primary task, wherever we are!

From the Concentration of the Will at M17Mausoleum64 x 90 cm, limited print, 2022Price on request

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    Mykhailo Rai's occupation diary.
    May 15. Mausoleum
    Still Kherson, still Ukraine, no matter what day the war began. Since the beginning of May, the "useful idiots" supplied by the Russians have been announcing the introduction of the Russian ruble into circulation and the future accession of the Kherson region to the Russian Federation. Half of May is over, and I still don't know what the Russian ruble looks like. 
    Not only local residents, but also the Russian military still buy food from local entrepreneurs for hryvnia. Kazkar loves history, but it is becoming more and more disturbing for him. Potential candidates for the "scapegoat" may turn out to be smarter, and the Mausoleum will then turn out to be not at all the way he wanted it to be. "Useful idiots" can become useless at any moment. Aren't they such idiots?

From the Concentration of the Will at M17O108 x 80 cm, limited print, 2022Price on request

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    Mykhailo Rai's occupation diary.
    April 17. Geometry Day
    Real spring has come to the city, with rains, flowers and greenery. Spurred on by rumors of a referendum being prepared, Kherson residents continue to leave en masse, while some remain. Russian flags often appear and disappear on administrative buildings. Photos from the monuments to the heroes of the Maidan are also disappearing. Chornobayivka once again asserts itself with powerful explosions of detonated warehouses with ammunition. Russian soldiers are strengthening their defenses, wandering in search of alcohol and cannabis, sometimes deserting. 
    Instead, on the food front, Russian products went on the offensive, displacing Ukrainian goods bled by the humanitarian blockade from the shelves of local stores. Some entrepreneurs are already preparing to announce their surrender. Propaganda leaflets are distributed on the streets about the good mission of the evil that is happening around. In many ways, the city survives thanks to the Ukrainian Internet, where even pensioners watch and read Ukrainian news.
    In my traditional blog about fairy tales and storytellers, there will be a lot of geometry and psychology today. It is dedicated to the great and powerful dramatic triangle of Steven Karpman. I recommend studying its essence to everyone who has not yet done so, and here I will briefly describe its mechanism. Studying behavior within transactional analysis, Karpman discovered that all psychological games follow a certain pattern. 
    He depicted it in the form of a triangle and identified three vertices in it - the roles played by the participants in turn: rescuer, aggressor and victim. In whatever role any of the participants in the drama of life begins, having played it, he switches to another, and then to a third, returns to the first again and moves like this all his life from dawn to dawn. The most vivid example of such geometry is the typical family of an alcoholic.
    Usually, an alcoholic husband starts it in the role of a victim (of his addiction), his wife plays the role of savior, forcing him to fight addiction, switching to the role of aggressor when the husband breaks down and goes on a binge, or victim, when he cries to his girlfriend or mother about his difficult fate When the husband switches roles, he acts as the aggressor when he beats his wife, and she, in turn, becomes the victim, and a neighbor, a relative, the police, or their own child comes to save her. 
    The tragedy here is that people get lost in this Bermuda triangle, burning all their vital energy in the emotional swing of drama. It extends into all interpersonal relationships and is reflected in the culture of society (soap operas), and even in its internal and external politics. Yes, at first there was a victim of Western colonialism, rising from its knees. When she has a resource, she becomes a savior for the oppressed Russian people in neighboring unfriendly countries. To save them, she switches to the aggressor and conducts special operations until she falls to her knees again to become a victim. 
    Within the country, the processes are the same. At the moment, the aggressors, who will become victims tomorrow, and the rescuers will come to their place, are playing very loudly from the screens. In this Bermuda triangle, all the resources of the economy disappear, preventing the population and its country from developing. It will be hard to believe again, because Stephen Karpman described the bottom of personal development and it is not related to the greatness of culture that other peoples follow. 
    Unfortunately, the Russian military, having entered the territory of Ukraine, first of all try to find something to drink and smoke, instead of reciting Pushkin's poems to local children (so as not to repeat about washing machines, iPhones, rapes and murders). And no matter how much you want to believe in a miracle, the palace coup will not change anything. One storyteller will be replaced by another, and the triangle will spin with the same force, and maybe even more. The morning begins with responsibility and action. I turn on the light and wish you luck!

From the Concentration of the Will at M17V115 x 80 cm, limited print, 2022Price on request

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    Mykhailo Rai's occupation diary.
    March 31. V
    There are no major changes in the city. Everyone is doing their own thing: entrepreneurs somehow miraculously get goods somewhere, utility workers and doctors at workplaces, and the Russian military goes to the homes of Terrodefense fighters and steals (takes without permission) representatives of local authorities. Somewhere they are already trying to impose rubles on the population, somewhere they are taking away phones and cars. In the villages, they visit literally every home. 
    Perhaps they are looking for their tanks and demilitarized tractors. But it seems more likely to me that they are spreading free Z-fear to the residents. There is simply no other way to impose the "People's Republic" on the people of Kherson. It cannot be said that they do not succeed. For several days now, I have been watching from my window how the Z-humanitarian aid is flying away. It is not only pensioners who stand in line behind her. I saw scenes where rolls of toilet paper were torn from hands as if they were the last in life. 
    At the same time, grocery stores are open and they always have enough good products and you can pay at the terminal. Many have already turned on the primitive "reptilian" mode of survival. My wife lost her temper from these "performances" under our window. Despite all my pitiful pleas not to, she opened the window and blasted her playlist at full blast from our hi-fi. Toilet paper flew to the anthem of Ukraine and "The Russian warship is coming..."
    Living in the occupied territory gives one dubious advantage - you can be in close contact with the Russian military. It seems that most Russians do not have such an opportunity. In their voices, faces and words, as in the citizens, the same fatigue from what is happening and understanding of the senselessness of this war is felt. Under the helmets, there are certainly heads with eyes that see and understand that there are no Nazis, "liberation", victory parades and medals. Perhaps they most hope for a peace agreement. 
    But every day, thousands of kilometers from here, the sofa troops sit in their concrete tanks and turn on their programmers at full power. They need the reality they want to see, and the little green men have to get it for them. Kazkar has already said his word: acceptable losses are 30 and 50 thousand killed, equipment must be protected, and the goal justifies the means. At stake is a ruthless and unrelenting history book that is already summing up his reign.

From the Concentration of the Will at M17Human Face90 x 100 cm, limited print, 2022Price on request

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    Mykhailo Rai's occupation diary.
    October 19. Human face
    On a certain day of the most special military operation in the history of mankind, demilitarization imperceptibly changed coursedeindustrialization and deelectrification by all available means: Iranian mopeds, irons, hammers and quilters Probably, now and in the winter in Russia, they want to show a frightened and frozen Ukraine on TV, that's why they do it investment in news that should please the viewer. Like everything that is done as part of this strange event, this one the performance is intended for the domestic Russian consumer. 
    It is needed in order to squeeze out at least a little more with a fire of anger from the exhausted and apathetic cotton swamp of cheering patriots, on which the foundation of Russian power stands. "There are no winners in war, only losers." The phrase belongs to Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1937-1940. He pursued a policy of pacifying the aggressor, made concessions to Hitler and Mussolini in the hope of negotiating peace. You probably know what came of it. It is noteworthy that almost 80 years later, Western politicians tried to do the same. There are definitely winners and losers in war. And from both sides that are fighting.
    Winners were able to distinguish truth from lies and follow it against all odds. The winners were able to overcome their ownfear. The winners realized that only by uniting they have a chance to survive, pushed aside conflicts (and even more so linguistic ones) andpersonal ambitions are on the back burner, and those who lost remained those who only care about themselves. 
    The winners gained faith In yourself, in higher forces, in justice and pure intention. The winners were able to accept the new circumstances and the bitterness of the loss. Winners have learned to live in complete uncertainty and unpredictability, effectively coping with stress and emotional stress. The winners have understood what is actually valuable and worth fighting for in this world, and what is secondary. 
    The winner, despite all the horrors of war, was able to remain human. And the most tragic defeat is to lose a human face. And to do it is much easier than it seems. Not only on the battlefield, but also in front of the monitor screen. When we turn away from events and people who need our help, or when we stop seeing a person as an enemy. Confused, angry, cruel and stupid, but still human. To a large extent, what peace will be like after the war depends on us. Will we fight each other when there are no external enemies? Will the vanquished want revenge or be like us?

From the Concentration of the Will at M17Evacuation84 x 110 cm, limited print, 2022Price on request

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    Mykhailo Rai's occupation diary.
    October 28. Evacuation
    Not even a month has passed since "Kherson Oblast made the right choice", as newly-made Kherson Russians have learned your first lesson of the course "How to be a Russian": when you are told from the box that "everything is under control" and "no panic", it is the time to panic! The first question I had after the evacuation was announced: "why 60,000"? After all, the Kherson region made the "right choice" almost unanimously. Then the question arose: "where will you get 60,000?" 
    Well, you will gather pensioners and collaborators by the force of 1,500," you will induce panic, scare with shelling and street battles, but people will still go not to the Russian Federation or Crimea, but to their country, because evacuation is a one-way ticket. There could not be a better solution to this issue. 
    Everyone will get what they wanted: whoever wanted to live in Europe and a free Ukraine will live in Europe and a free Ukraine. And whoever wanted to live in Russia or the USSR, which is the same at the moment, will live in Russia and the USSR. With "Plombir" ice cream, pseudo-tasty sausage and victory parades on May 9. 
    Only without their children and grandchildren. They were exchanged for warm memories from the past, for simple and understandable things without disturbing and complex achievements of progress, completely forgetting that Russia is not only ice cream and sausage, but senseless mountains of corpses, broken destinies and violence, as the residents of Donbas have already managed to see for themselves and Crimea. What of what is happening now, did not happen many times in the past, in the history of the Russian Empire and the USSR?
    This is not a war between the Russian and Ukrainian people, it is a war of values. A war of generations, a war between the past and the future. And what is going to Russia is what it is based on, its basis and electorate: budgetary ballast, adult children, totally dependent on the state, who will do what they are told. These are the best people for the raw economy of a totalitarian regime. 
    But the free and independent adults needed to create an innovative product or service are dangerous for her. Evacuating collaborators is much better than catching them and putting them in prison. The flow of the author's thoughts is suddenly interrupted by a scene on one of the city streets. Attention is drawn to the empty pedestals of monuments, passing cars, a crew of workers repairing the road surface, two yellow "routes" for evacuating the population. 
    One of them stopped. A crowd of soldiers spills out of the buses. Questions about 60,000 and thoughts lose relevance. Another question comes to the surface: "Road repair? Are you serious?”

Concentration of the Will at M17


Mykhailo Rai's Diary of the Occupation

Mykhailo Rai, a participant in the Concentration of the Will project at the M17 CAC, whose series, Diary of the Occupation, is presented as part of the exhibition at M17, was in the region under Russian occupation, Kherson, from February to November 2022. 
The region, which has been liberated by the Ukrainian army, continues to suffer catastrophic and horrific consequences from the actions of Russian terrorists. 
During the period of occupation and the creation of the artworks included in the series, the artist learnt from his own experience that happiness and well-being do not depend on external circumstances. "Paradise is not a place, but a state of mind," the artist says. 
“In the most difficult times of your journey, the words from Rainer Maria Rilke's poem will guide you: Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”


About the artist

Mykhailo Rai was born in 1984 in Kherson, in a family of ship's cooks. He is known as the author of large-format digital photo collages with philosophical content.
Since 2014, his works have been awarded more than 60 awards at international competitions. Among them: International Photography Awards, Prix de la Photography Paris, Sony World Photography Awards, ND Awards, Tokyo International Photography Awards, OneEyeland Photography Awards. Published in international and domestic print and online publications.
He uses his creativity as a tool for self-discovery, conveying his discoveries to others through images and symbols in order to draw a map that everyone can follow.
From February to November 2022, he was under Russian occupation, making sure from his own experience that happiness and well-being do not depend on external circumstances. "Heaven is not a place, but a state of consciousness." During the occupation, he gave more than 30 interviews to international radio, TV and Internet publications about his work and the situation in the city, most of them anonymously. During this time, his works participated in 9 group and one personal exhibitions in Ukraine, Europe and the USA, visited the photo fair in Rotterdam.