Design – “Wherever I am, I feel pulled towards Ukrainian soil. I feel a need for physical contact with it.” Says Victoria Yakusha. With her FAINA Gallery, Victoria brings that strong feel to Design Miami/ Basel 2022 with the STEPPING ON UKRAINIAN SOIL exhibition. “When you have this connection to your earth, when you feel your roots in her, there’s nothing more powerful. Our soil gives us strength; our soil reveals our own essence.”
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At the center of the Design Miami/Basel’s Curio exhibition is a handwoven, 2.5-meter tapestry titled Zemlia -Ukrainian for “earth.” The tapestry has a layered texture reminiscent of rich, Ukrainian, black-coloured soil that is presented alongside a series of primitive furniture in the shape of fictitious animals that emerge in the form of modern benches and stools each sculpted by hand.
Hanging from the tapestry are long, umbilical-like strands which fall to the ground, representative of the primal connection of every Ukrainian to their soil. In this work, the earth is interpreted as a source of life, a source of strength, and a base of collective memory — all intertwined in a giant, wool-woven design.
The technique employed to create Zemlia is in itself a piece of history. The art of an ancient Ukrainian craft — lizhnykarstvo – now on the brink of extinction, is passed down from mother to daughter in the Carpathians, a mountainous region of western Ukraine. “Every stitch is the DNA of generations, a witness to the mystery of the land, its history and spirit.” Says Victoria Yakusha to Archipanic.
Founded in 2014, after the Revolution of Dignity, FAINA represents Ukrainian identity, culture and spirit. Evoking ancient symbols, reviving ancestral crafts, and working with live, primeval materials. FAINA’s live minimalist design explores a sense of belonging to the earth and guides us back to the essence.
“2014 was the moment when Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine began and we started asking ourselves, ‘Who are we?'” Says Victoria Yakusha, who was in Belgium the war began. “We felt that we’re different [from the Russians] and were looking for something that was ours.”
All photos by James Harris, unless stated otherwise. Courtesy of Design Miami/Basel 2022.
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