Силует Олі Михайлюк на фоні зеленої трави

rememberMINT

Olia Mykhailiuk
idea, photo, video, text
Valerii Chobotar
text
Oleh Bozhko
text
Mark Tokar
double bass
Alexey Vorsoba
accordeon
Natalia Perchyshena
recording of the interviews
Tomasz Sikora
sound editing
Benjamin Cope
translation
Tetiana Mytalnykova, Ihor Mytalnykov
subtitles

Grass over the Siversky Donets River, sunflowers near Bakhmut, frozen birds over the Sea of Azov in Mariupol, black fish on the shot wall of a shop in Schastia, lilacs and garden gnomes wishing good luck from a destroyed flower farm in Sloviansk. War has been going on in Ukraine since 2014, but until 2022 it was called an “armed conflict”. Olia Mykhailyuk has repeatedly visited the Ukrainian east since 2014 and continues to record the presence of war in photos, videos, and texts.

“rememberMINT” is a multimedia collage that combines audiovisual observations from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, music, performance and the stories of people who found themselves in the war in eastern Ukraine. For each, the reasons for their decisions were individual. “rememberMINT” is grounded in reflections on memory and commemoration. Olia first showed the project at the Akcent Documentary Theater and Performance Festival in Prague in late 2016.

In the spring of 2017, the performance “rememberMINT” was presented in eastern Ukrainian cities near to the war zone: Starobilsk, Siverskodonetsk, Kramatorsk, Bakhmut, Pokrovsk and Mariupol. In 2022, all of them would be plunged into the epicenter of hostilities. After the tour, I added new episodes to this composition.

The work existed as a performance for five years — from 2016 to 2021. Constantly acquiring a new form, it was shown in many cities of Ukraine and Europe.

In 2021, the idea arose to edit “rememberMINT” as a video work. Olia Mykhailyuk went east again, this time to photograph the Mariupol coast. She finished editing the collage nine months before the war (the full running time is 1 hour 20 minutes). The premiere took place in the spring of 2021, also in Mariupol.

After the shows, Olia always planted mint. Back in 2016, her friends brought this herb from Alchevsk. Olia Mykhailyuk had been in the city in 2014 when Russia occupied it. So Alchevsk mint is now grown in various cities of Ukraine and Europe. In 2021, Olia planted mint in the City Garden in Mariupol.
In 2022, the Russians enacted a blockade of Mariupol. As a result, a humanitarian catastrophe began, in which thousands of civilians died. Due to the constant shelling, the locals could not get to the cemetery, and so they had to bury people in mass graves in the City Garden.

“rememberMINT” is a memory and a prediction. The method of working on the piece was special — intuitive, improvisational. There was never a script. Instead, there were personal photos, videos and audio notes. At some point in 2016, it became clear that this multi-genre material could be an organic and holistic background for my performance. But in 2021, I felt the need for a new form for this material. I was no longer ready to take part in the work as a performer. I decided to record everything and combine it into a new video work. And even then, there was no plan, only a natural flow of files and memories — from one episode followed another, and so on.
“rememberMINT” could be a work of anticipation, if the war had not been going on in eastern Ukraine for eight years. But then it would not have had contained specific examples of trauma and its treatment. It is a prediction and instruction on what to do next — how to go through a harrowing experience, that is now double
Olia Mykhailyuk