Introducing the winning projects of the Letterenfonds Foundation!

We have great news to share with you!

Five artists from our Ukrainian community won grants from the Support Programme for Ukrainian Artists 2024 financed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands!

This means that very soon you will be presented with very diverse Ukrainian projects, which include visual art, literature, art therapy, fashion and education. All projects will take place with the assistance and support of the VATAHA Foundation.

In this article, in order to introduce you to the winners and their projects, we asked them the same three questions:

1. What kind of project will they implement,

2. When can the public expect the project, and where exactly can it be seen?

3. Who will be primarily interested in the project and why?

Anastasia Prokofieva

Installation “Fragments of Resilience”

Photo: Alexandru Vasilachi

  • What kind of project will you implement?

Fragments of Resilience is a project about an adaptation process where the emotional trauma of loss can develop into memories and a supportive frame for the future. Since the onset of Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014, and especially since the full-scale invasion in 2022, an enduring sense of loss has taken root in Ukrainian society. So as Ukrainians – at home or abroad – continue their fight for freedom and independence, they deal not only with the tangible disruptions caused by war but also with the intangible absence of their pre-war existence.

It is within this confluence of collective grief and resilience that my project is centred. It will provide a space for transforming this feeling of loss into a repository of memories that can serve as foundations of strength and resilience for the future.

The project will be executed in three phases: a combination of participatory workshops and a process of translation that I will create, that together will lead to a public interactive installation to be presented during an event organised by VATAHA foundation.

  • When can the public expect the project, and where exactly can it be seen?

The installation will be presented on August 24th 2024, on Ukrainian Independence Day at Run for Ukraine, a memorial event in The Hague.

  • Who will be primarily interested in the project and why?

This project will mainly be interesting to Ukrainian refugees in The Netherlands, people interested in art and culture, and all Dutch people who welcomed Ukrainians after russian full-scale invasion and wish to further understand and empathise with their experiences.

Anna Kakhiani

Exhibition project “Hug me with words, or maybe not”

Photo: Alina Kozakova 

  • What kind of project will you implement?

“Hug me with words, or maybe not” is an exhibition project with a panel discussion about uncertainties in empathy, language patterns and emotional and physical reactions to them. I will explore the inappropriate use of cheerful phrases such as ‘everything will be okay’, ‘keep smiling’ or ‘don’t cry’ in the context of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but also in a broader everyday meaning. This project is a continuation of my artistic research process that started in 2023. It consists of a further study of the topic in the form of interviews with a broader audience, experiments in materials to create new installations, and a panel discussion during the final exhibition.

In 2023 I started my research focusing on collected repetitive phrases commonly used in situations requiring empathy. Now I’m trying to transform these phrases into physical or media installations, utilising diverse, recognizable objects, images, and materials associated with specific emotional or sensory experiences. I will describe universally understandable experiences through artistic expression, creating a straightforward starting point for empathy. This approach appeals to the emotional intelligence of the viewers, making phrases lying on the surface relatable to people.

Currently, I’ve been continuing my research and would like to invite you to share your thoughts and experiences with me. You can join via an online survey. As a result, there will be the presentation of the works in an exhibition format and a public thematic discussion.

  • When can the public expect the project, and where exactly can it be seen?

The exhibition is expected to open in July at WG Kunst in Amsterdam. Dates of the official opening and public program will be specified soon. 

  • Who will be primarily interested in the project and why?

It is open to any audience. The issue of empathy is what we all have in common.

Nicole Katenkari

Teen Art Club 3.0 Contradictive Normality

Photo: Diana Shabshai

  • What kind of project will you implement?

Educational program for the young aged 16-18 with/without Ukrainian origin at the Fotomuseum in The Hague. The program is built around the exhibition “BORIS MIKHAILOV. UKRAINIAN DIARY”. Participants will explore the photographer’s creative method and create their own photo series about everyday life, freedom and democracy. The photos will be presented in the museum in the format of a small exhibition.

  • When can the public expect the project, and where exactly can it be seen?

The opening of the teenage photo exhibition will take place on June 15 at Fotomuseum in The Hague.

  • Who will be primarily interested in the project and why?

Primarily, this project will be interesting for the participants – the young, who are interested in art and culture and are looking for like-minded people. This program is a way to connect with Ukraine or learn more about it in person and not from the news.

Daria Lysenko

Collection of poetry “I hear you are in The Netherlands…”

Photo: Ognjen Karabegović

  • What kind of project will you implement?

“I hear you are in The Netherlands…” is a bilingual poetry book (Ukrainian with Dutch translation made by Arie van Der Ent) devoted to the themes of Ukrainian refugees and the war in Ukraine. This book will show everyday life and the Netherlands through Daria’s personal lens as a refugee who, after the full-scale invasion of Russia into Ukraine, came here to The Netherlands. 

In the collection, which is visually very similar to a diary, the reader will discover the paradoxical world of a person who finds herself in a chronic state of uncertainty, where the calm nature and cities of The Netherlands intersect with constant inner anxiety, where the Dutch try to understand Ukrainians by overcoming their stereotyped ideas about Ukraine and vice versa, where Ukrainians try to understand the Dutch in the same way. These texts are about how insignificant, mundane things that surround us are, in fact, significant, and how exactly they become points of support when there seems to be no feeling of inner strength. But most importantly, this collection is about the fact that when you don’t even seem to talk about the war and don’t see the war with your own eyes, you actually do talk about it and look at the world through the prism of war.

  • When can the public expect the project, and where exactly can it be seen?

The promotion and the tour of the book presentation will be timed to the remembrance dates of full-scale invasion in 2022 in Ukraine. Organised by the VATAHA Foundation, the book presentations held in February 2025 in the main cities of the Netherlands, will be promoted in the local community of the Ukrainian diaspora and to a wider Dutch audience.

  • Who will be primarily interested in the project and why?

The poetic voice of a Ukrainian refugee, and even more so a Ukrainian refugee in the Dutch context, has not yet been represented on the literary scene. One of the goals of this collection is also to strengthen cultural bridges between Ukrainians and the Dutch. That is why it is important that the book is published bilingually, in Ukrainian and Dutch languages. It will be interesting for the Dutch reader to see their country from the Ukrainian point of view, to see himself as if from the side, and to understand the Ukrainian refugees in their country better. For the Ukrainian reader, this book will be interesting from two sides: Ukrainian refugees in the Netherlands will definitely find these texts close, and Ukrainians who are not refugees will also be able to better understand the experiences of their compatriots.

Yaroslava Khomenko

“The Netherlands: the practice of social interaction”

Photo: Dima Prutkin

  • What kind of project will you implement?

As part of my project, I plan to involve people – Ukrainians who emigrated due to the war and local communities – from five cities in the Netherlands to join my activities. I invite them to bring their clothes, cut and combine them themselves into new textile canvases, which I then compress and transform into objects of utilitarian design. This collaboration with people who reflect their experiences in textile form and create unexpected combinations disrupts social and political roles, raising questions about refugees, decolonization, capitalist hierarchy and its alternatives.

Thus, I am experimenting with minimising textile waste on the one hand and changing sustainable habits of consumption and self-identification through wardrobe on the other. My goal is to deconstruct the consumer role assigned to people in a globalised world. It is also important for me to implement the idea of ​​New Production and to inspire people to transfer the gained experience of deconstruction to everyday life.

  • When can the public expect the project, and where exactly can it be seen?

I plan to show the final compressed objects (sweatshots) as part of the design week in Eindhoven in October 2024.

  • Who will be primarily interested in the project and why?

The target audiences of my project are Ukrainian refugees in various communities in the Netherlands and the local community that has been receiving or interacting with refugees since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. Through joint activities at the workshops, I will help them understand their experience, find new social connections, and each of the participants will have the opportunity to speak out their experience and make content visible to the social environment, which will have a therapeutic effect.
The target audience of the final exhibition of the objects created at the workshops are artists and art critics interested in participatory practices, art therapists, refugees and forced migrants, as well as local communities. Equally important to me are eco-activists and sociologists of consumption and sustainable development, the fashion community that researches and uses upcycling and recycling methods in their practice.

The Letterenfonds Foundation grant was granted exclusively to artists, who arrived in the country after February 24, 2022 as temporarily displaced persons.