Artist Name: Sasha Shevchenko
Title: Жнець (Reaper)
Medium: Straw, pine wood, black mica paint, digital photography
Size/Dimension: 32 x 24 cm
Rich dense stalks of wheat grew around me. Living timelessly in the Ukrainian flag, living to be value and to be valued. Yellow, awkward plains carved out into the earth, and I could never find the end.
The wheat was praised into religion. It was wealth, and abundance and all good things. It tickled the cheeks of family members at harvest and at foreign dinner tables. It is our blood, our currency, and our identity – it is our land.
I couldn’t see it. When the stubbles were burned – to control aphids and to regenerate nitrogen levels. Thick smoke enveloped the gold, and I saw the soil’s silent fury. It is a practice where we are one flame away from tragedy, two flames from losing who we are. Yet, how could we not think that the land we tamed is ours.
But how can land only give to lose?
An obsolete taker. Knowing that to burn is to eat and to grow is to burn. A certain phantasm or promise. Unnerving, like the precarious nature of our wealth. What does it mean to have a practice with the land? To let it serve on our tables and in our stories, but to know that its end haunts us. The black smoke haunts us. It creeping onto us haunts us. Our land is an iconoclasm –an icon serving only to those who believe in it.