ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
OLEXANDER KLIMENKO. (b.1976, lives & works in Kyiv, Ukraine). Graduate of the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture (1998), Institute of Art History, Folklore and Ethnology and National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (2002). Taught at the Kyiv State Institute of Decorative Arts and Design and at the Higher Humanitarian Theological Courses (Kyiv). Participated in exhibitions in Ukraine and abroad, organized of a number of literary and artistic events and performances. Author of the idea and one of the curators of the project “Icons on Ammunition Boxes”.
SONIA ATLANTOVA. (b.1981, lives & works in Kyiv, Ukraine). Graduate of the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture. Works in the field of monumental and easel painting, book graphics, installations. Participated in exhibitions in Ukraine and abroad. Her books were included in short and long lists of several literary awards in Ukraine and abroad, in particular – “BBC Book of the Year”.
ARTISTS STATEMENT: Transforming death into life. Transformation of war into peace. This is what everyone who faced the horrors of war dreams of. Icons on Ammunition Boxes project, which we started in the autumn of 2014 was our common dream of peace in Ukraine. An icon can wonderfully tell not only about the events of two thousand years ago, but also about the tragic vicissitudes of modern warfare, the war unfolding before our eyes, the war in which hundreds of thousands are directly involved and millions are displaced. Read more
ICONS ON AMMO BOXES
This is a project of Kyiv artists Sonya Atlantova and Oleksandr Klymenko, dedicated to artistic meditations on the theme of the Russian-Ukrainian war. The main idea of the project is to transform death (the symbol of which is an arms box) into life (which in Ukrainian culture is traditionally personified by an icon)
The boxes on which the icons are written are brought from the war zone. That is why the icons written on their fragments are silent but eloquent witnesses of this war. The concept of the project combines seemingly incompatible things: the attributes of modern war, and the ancient artistic language, which dates back to the European Middle Ages. Thus, the Russian-Ukrainian war is comprehended against the background of Ukrainian and even European history of the last millennium.
It is important that the icon on the arms box acts not only as a religious attribute, but primarily as a cultural phenomenon, an art object. Going beyond the religious space, it becomes clear to anyone both in Ukraine and abroad: in Europe and America.
The exhibition on cartridge boxes was exhibited in cities such as Antwerp, Basel, Berlin, Bonn, Brussels, Bucharest, Washington, Warsaw, Vilnius, Cologne, Karlsruhe, Cours, Los Angeles, Miami, Milan, Montreal, Munich, Oxford, Ottawa, Paris, Prague, Poznan , Rome, Toronto, Chicago, Philadelphia, Frankfurt am Main, Iasi, etc. (15 countries, 60 cities, 118 locations).
Since the spring of 2015, the project ICONS ON AMMO BOXES has been supporting a number of charitable initiatives and projects aimed at helping Ukrainian military and civilians affected by Russian aggression, including the Apostle Luke’s Hospital, a medical volunteer project at the front.
Icons on Ammunition Boxes is a conceptual project by Ukrainian artists Sonia Atlantova and Olexander Klimenko launched in 2014. Icons painted on fragments from ammunition boxes from the war zones in Ukraine serve as silent war witnesses and at the same time symbols of victory of life over death. From September, 2015 to September, 2022, this project was supporting the Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital, the largest private hospital in Ukraine fully operational during the current war helping the army and civilian population.
In October, 2022 the Project began its financial support of the St. Luke Hospital – newly established mobile hospital and rehabilitation facility in Ukraine.
- Daniel Fried, American politician and diplomat: “This combination of war and peace reminds me the American seal, which has the eagle holding an olive branch in one talon and arrows in the other one. This is wonderful stuff, it’s culture and patriotism at the same time.”
- David C. Williams, Executive Director, Center for Constitutional Democracy, Indiana University Maurer School of Law: “The series Icons to Ammo Boxes is itself an icon that suffering can be redeemed and that in the end, love wins. I have one in my office. In my work, I regularly see the harm that people do to each other. But every morning, when I see the icon, I am forcefully reminded that people can also dwell in grace and in beauty. I treasure it.”
- George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center: “Oleksandr Klymenko’s brilliant idea was to use a different kind of wood: not a polished and treated panel, but the rough-hewn tops or bottoms of the boxes in bullets, grenades, and artillery shells were once stored.”
- Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun, Prof. at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Act. : “The icons on ammo boxes, thus, demonstrate how violence and pain can be transfigured to peace and relief, and actually contribute to this transfiguration through the work of doctors.”