The Kharkiv Trilogy
Screening and talk by Mykola Ridnyi
Sunday, 28 April, 5 pm  

Between Bridges
Adalbertstraße 43
10179 Berlin

A number of Mykola Ridnyi’s films and series of photographs relate to his hometown Kharkiv. Ukraine’s second largest city, this scientific, cultural and logistical center became particularly fragile because of its geographical proximity to the Russian border. Three of his films, Regular Places (2015), NO! NO! NO! (2017) and The District (2023) form a trilogy which expresses social, political, and urban transformations in the city over the last decade. 

In Regular Places, the confrontation between supporters of an independent Ukraine and European integration on the one hand and “separatists” who wanted to join Russia on the other strongly affected the city of Kharkiv. The street confrontations that ended with the defeat of the pro-Russian movement left behind traumas that marked the city for several years. In the film, the sounds of violence from the past break into the scenes of the relatively peaceful life that followed.

The main heroes of NO! NO! NO! are young people from Kharkiv. Reaching their early twenties coincided with the breakout of the war in the neighboring region of Donbas. A queer activist and poet, a fashion model, a group of street artists, a creator of a computer games – all of them are artists or working in the creative industries, typical of peaceful life in a big city. However, the proximity to the war affects each of the characters and their activities. 

The District recites the artist’s memories of places of his childhood and youth that no longer exist. In 2022, a neighborhood of Northern Saltivka in Kharkiv became a frontline in the Russian invasion and suffered significant destruction. A walk through the “ghost district” forges a coexistence of past and present, outward and inward landscapes, facts and recollections.

In English

Mykola Ridnyi currently lives and works in Berlin, where he holds a guest professorship for multimedia art at the University of the Arts. He graduated from Kharkiv National Academy of Design and Arts in 2008, where he studied sculpture. Since 2005, he has been a founding member of the SOSka group, an art collective based in Kharkiv. The same year he cofounded the SOSka gallery-lab, an artist-run space in Kharkiv. Under Ridnyi's leadership, SOSka was instrumental in developing the artistic scene in the region before it closed in 2012. Starting from his curatorial project Armed and Dangerous (2017–2021), Ridnyi began to develop a platform for collaboration between Ukrainian moving image artists and filmmakers. In 2022 he curated screening programs of Ukrainian film and video art at DAAD gallery (Berlin), MAXXI (Rome), Folkwang Museum (Essen), and National Gallery (Sofia). Ridnyi works across media, ranging from early collective actions in public space to the amalgam of site-specific installations. Photography and moving image constitute the current focus of his practice. In recent films and images, he has experimented with nonlinear montage, collaging documentary and fiction. His approach to reflecting social and political reality draws on the contrast between fragility and resilience in individual stories and collective histories.