"WORSE THAT WAR IS HUNGER,
WORSE THAT HUNGER IS
LACK OF LOVE", - Yona
"A BOY WITH A DEAD HORSE",
size 120 x 400 cm, oil on canvas.
"One boy's parents starved to death (1947); and the boy went hungry to the dump; and people have seen him hauling up with a hook the stinking, decaying body of a dead animal. And a man took this child to himself and did not allow him to eat from the dead animal. This child was raised by this person and survived".
Story told by V.I.Tutova (born 1925), Glavan, Ukraine.
April 29, 2018.
The painting was created during the War in Ukraine /April - May 2022/ in studio kindly provided
„I was so hungry that I ate my friend's toy“ -
Ilia, 6 years old“. Yona, 2022
size 135 x 200 cm, oil on canvas
And then he remembered, he remembered even that which would be better not to remember. How he hid in the basements from the bombing. How afraid he was to ask strangers to go to the toilet. How he was so hungry that he ate another boy's toy. He even knew that his mother was no more. He said this simply: „My mother went to the bridge, the bridge was blown up, she died.
The story told by Maria about Ilia from Mariupol,
The painting was created during the War in Ukraine /June -September 2022/ in studio kindly provided
One of the pioneers of the Metamodernist movement, painter Yona tackles the social theme associated with the problems of hunger in the modern world within her interdisciplinary project "HUNGER".
Since 2009 Yona has been studying historical materials on the famine in Ukraine and the Soviet Union from the period 1921-1923, 1932-1933, 1946-1947, using an academic approach in selecting sources of information from archives and personal interviews with living witnesses who survived the famine.
The project "HUNGER" uses a metamodern method of research with scientific and artistic techniques, which serves as a basis for the connection between the disciplines of science and fine art. The synthesis of art and science creates an opportunity for the work of art to be engaged in a debate concerning a more detailed disclosure of the past that reflects in the present.
The results of the study on the subject and newly discovered documentary sources are used to recreate the Soviet famine in Ukraine in the form of metamodern historical paintings.
Both the texts and the visual images of the famine in the paintings are complex documents with their own history of creation. They do not simply "illustrate" the famine, but are part of its history of representation and cultural significance.
Images within Yona's paintings shed light on the tragic consequences of the famine since the 20th century. The emotional artistic expression in the paintings is a means of deep penetration into the atmosphere of abused human dignity.
The project "HUNGER" helps to recognize that the modern world has become hostage to the unpunished crimes of Soviet totalitarianism, in particular the repressive anti-peasant happenings that contributed to the mass starvation of the population during the 20th century.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” - this thought belonging to the philosopher George Santayana should sound like an alarm, the strength of which would be amplified by the historical paintings that are part of the "Hunger" project.
The grinding sounds of hunger coming from the past shall still ring in the souls of the people in the present and the future, through the power of Contemporary Art.
The painter appeals: Let the suffering of the people serve to unite us, not to divide and cause enmity.
2010 - 2013
The project «Hunger» by the painter Yona is comprised of a series of thematic paintings inspired by documents. In 2009 Yona began studying historical materials on the famine in Ukraine and the USSR in the period 1946-1947, using an academic approach in selecting sources of information from archives and personal interviews with living witnesses who survived the famine. ...
Institute for Historical Studies - Bulgarian Academy of Sciences published a scientific paper of Yona Tukuser - «Projection of a Metamodern Method for the Study of the Famine in Bessarabia in 1946-1947 Reflected in Historical Painting» in the magazine «Istoricheski Pregled». ...
In May 2018, Yona started the shooting of the documentary "Hunger" in a number of villages in Ukraine, presenting personal stories of starvation and cannibalism in the Odessa region in Ukraine in 1946-1947.
Hunger suppresses the unconditional reflex in people who have reached cannibalism. This characterizes the historical periods of social transformations, wars, epidemics.
The bark of social forms of behavior is destroyed, the fire of biological impulses erupts and instead of a cultural socius, you see a wild animal, completely unlike a cultural being.
Documentary video footage, 2018 ©Yona
" - My relatives stabbed my aunt during a hunger and boiled her for jellied meat and took her to sell to the market.
- Someone ate children?
- Ate, of course! They stabbed their children and ate ... ate ... What should they do if there is no food? Dies of hunger ... goes through it all ... stabs his child, kills him and eats him. It was awful! Let's never see that in our lives.
Look, what happened: Romania left - Russia came, Russia left - Romania came. And we do not know under whose authority we are. And we have nothing. They took everything: grain ... everything. And this year (1946) there was a bad harvest. And the end ... The people are dying of hunger.
People were all swollen ... and ate each other ...".
A.D. Dimitrova (born 1935), Vinogradnoe, Ukraine. May 21, 2018
Documentary video footage, 2018 ©Yona