BOOK of the DEAD. Alexander Krolikowski

According to statistics, tens of times more civilians than Ukrainian servicemen were killed during the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. The media write that this is genocide, not military confrontation, the recorded crimes testify to this at every step, European countries and the UN recognize these crimes as genocide. The worst crimes against civilians have been committed in occupied cities and towns. Death has become a common topic of conversation for all Ukrainians. We are even accustomed to this, or rather the human psyche works so when grief is too much.

Murders, tortures, rapes, and physical abuse, including of young children, all take place today in modern democratic Europe in Ukraine. But the hypocrisy and hesitation are constantly vibrating in different parts of Europe from people who talk about economic relations and forget about human rights.

The mission of the project is to reveal the civil status of people during the war – when we leave in the background and abstain from politics and approach the greatest value of democratic countries – human life.

The “Book of the Dead” is a creation of a cultural documentary artifact, a rethinking of the artistic experience. It is possible that in a few centuries this artifact will become anthropological material for studying the confrontation of ideologies and economies at the expense of the sacred sacrifice of civilians of Ukraine. 

The aim of the project is to turn into a holistic statement of the experience and documentary photos from the life of a morgue volunteer in the language of art. To adapt the horrible reality to consumption on an emotional level, to provoke reflections outside of geopolitics and propaganda of information media.

The hero of the project is the artist Alexander Krolikowski, who worked three and a half weeks after the de-occupation of some parts of the Kyiv region as a volunteer in the morgue of Vyshgorod. The tortured bodies of innocent victims of Russian aggression were delivered there. According to today’s estimates, it is 1290 killed residents of the Kyiv region.


From the author:

“The Book of the Dead” is a synthesis of instant photography during volunteer work with the bodies of the dead civilians of Bucha, poetic instant photography, and my own memories of meeting death.

“Book of Dead” is a metamodern iconography of one of the most important events in human’s life – Death, through the prism of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Death is an event that created or devalued meanings for all previous generations of people. And each generation of artists created a portrait of their era, describing the attitude toward death. The memory of the dead is not needed by the dead themselves, we, the living, need it to draw conclusions and learn to value our own lives and the lives of others.”

Lucy Nychai, curator NVAIR