Oksana Yushko


29 July – 5  August 2023

Oksana Yushko The Familia DUO Contradiction 2023

The FAMILIA case is a portable installation addressing how the war in Ukraine affects the lives of Ukrainian-Russian couples, showing both a tragedy and mass displacement of families, but also love stories and contradictory narratives from a human perspective.

How do people love each other when they come from two countries that have become enemies? Oksana Yushko – born to a Russian mother and a Ukrainian father – has been telling both her personal story and that of many mixed couples since 2014, the year of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbas region. The project started with a photograph of Oksana’s parents, living in Kharkiv, Ukraine, a 30-minute drive from the Russian border. Since the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, many Russians and Ukrainians have stopped seeing themselves as ‘neighbors’ anymore, they became enemies, and even half of Ukrainians have family or close friends in Russia and vice versa. Previously, these couples were so common that they were not considered controversial. These love stories in the former USSR territories were unquestionable, with barely existing borders. For Oksana’s parents who have lived together for more than sixty years, the war never came in the way of their relationship.

Anna and Kirill’s love started during the war. Kirill is from Siberia in Russia. Anna is from the southern Ukraine. Both Kirill and Anna have fled to Georgia because of the war. They met each other in Tbilisi in 2022 helping Ukrainian refugees. They decided to live together already in three days, and one month later they got married. They are not the only ones who fell in love with each other despite being from the enemy countries. There are many other stories. The suitcase represents both a new life, and also consequences of the war, tragedies, and sorrow along the migrant’s journey. Confronting the increasingly divided and antagonistic world in which we find ourselves today, the project shows a way to designate movement over or beyond boundaries, when love conquers all.

Oksana Yushko is a Russian-Ukrainian multidisciplinary artist and curator, based in Georgia. Her approach combines documentary studies, sociology, and anthropology, while her practice expands to different media including photography, video, sculpture, and installations.
Taking up her art practices as a way to connect with other people and cultures, her projects – mainly based in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Baltic Sea region – highlight a diverse range of critical humanitarian issues. Yushko’s research lies in the intersection of memory and post-trauma, investigates the aftermath of conflicts and tragedies, questions the interpretation of facts and historical narratives, and addresses the topics of borders, critical thinking, and the relationship between culture and nature. Her work has been exhibited and published internationally, and held in institutional and private collections in Russia, Ukraine, the US, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, England, and Spain to name a few.
Yushko has received numerous awards, including Luma Rencontres Dummy Book Award Arles 2017, Prix Bayeux Calvados Award 2014, Lens Culture International Exposure 2011, and The Aftermath 2009.