Since the very beginning of the protests on Maidan in the end of 2013 the uprisings have been characterised by a highly visualised culture. In the period of only a couple of month Ukrainian artists and citizens have turned the Maidan, other parts of the Ukrainian public and the social network into a great art exhibition. The huge diversity of artistic expression, ranging from street art, paintings and graffiti to performance art, photography and videos, will necessarily overwhelm the viewer and, in particular, the one who tries to find some general patterns behind the function and functionalization of these visual art forms. This is why, before approaching the visual material, one needs to establish some theoretical and methodological guidelines.
While a few of the presentations will be primarily concerned with specific art forms, the purpose of this contribution is to generate a common theoretical framework for the study of visual protest on Maidan and beyond. Assuming that all the images share one thing, that is their political agency, my main interest in studying the visual strategies of Ukrainian protest is to discover how images act.
In order to do so, I shall present four theoretical concepts: Bredekamp’s Image act, Diers’sHead-image, Warburg’s Pathos formula and Benjamin’s criticism of art in an age of technical reproduction. This way I intend to provide my fellow speakers with some methodological tools for their analysis.
Eventually, questions like the following might find an answer:
What media is used, what medial form constitutes, supports which form of protest?
To which iconographic and symbolical traditions do artists refer to, and, more importantly, how do they further develop them? How do artists re-load traditional material with new meaning?
Which new forms of expression and action did Maidan create?
How do images act? To which purpose? How do revolutionaries all over the world make use of the image’s potential to generate agency?
What role does the internet play in this context?