Born Kharkiv, Ukrainian SSR 1988

Lives and works in Sarajevo, Bosnia i Herzegovina

Represented by Yavuz Gallery, Singapore & Sydney

Stanislava Pinchuk is an artist working with data-mapping the changing topographies of war and conflict zones. Her work is produced in full independence, and surveys how landscape holds memory and testament to political events – spanning drawing, installation, tattooing, film & sculpture.

The Odyssey
By Sebastian Goldspink

The classical poet Homer is believed to be buried in the northern part of Ios Island, now Greece, near the beach of Plakotos. Around his tomb, which bears an inscription, lie piles of stone shards. Visitors to the tomb rearrange these forms, perhaps as they contemplate the enormity of his legacy – or merely for the simple pleasure of creating temporary sculptures at this most important of sites. This place served as a potent starting point for artist Stanislava Pinchuk and her work The Wine Dark Sea. As with the source of its inspiration, the installation is an attempt to play with forms and inscriptions, and their meanings – poetical and political. Pinchuk describes the stones of Homer’s tomb as being ‘modular and stackable, forever swapped and rearranged into vernacular forms by visitors through millennia, without a single final form’.

Her work had been completed only days before she immigrated to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the historic city of Sarajevo. Clearly, the act of immigration, of leaving her home once again, is front of mind as she departs locked-down innercity Melbourne to make a life on the other side of the world. She describes the installation as ‘a personal meditation on ideas of home and of migration’. Intrinsic to the work is a call for humanity and compassion, and an entreaty to honour international commitments to providing sanctuary.

Carved onto the marble forms that comprise The Wine Dark Sea are passages extracted from Homer’s Odyssey, interpolated with near-identical phrases from leaked cables and notes from investigative journalists, these originating from Australia’s offshore detention centres, at Nauru and Manus Island. For viewers, the provenance of these lines is purposefully ambiguous, but all speak to the universal struggle of displaced people in their search for safety, shelter and freedom. The source of the texts is concealed: Odysseus might become [REDACTED], and vice versa.

In my discussions with Pinchuk about the order and placement of the works in The Wine Dark Sea, she again references Homer’s tomb and its modularity, in that she is interested in how a curator might place these works, the connections they might make between the forms and how they will work in the space; how they might bring their lived experiences to this task.

The full version of this essay by Sebastian Goldspink is published in Free/State.