MICHAEL MURPHENKO

Mavka or Ukraine still hasn’t died

Vitaliy Gnativ [art critic's text]

Mavka, as a creature from both the beyond and this world, is able to define the existence of the inhabitants of this land.
While it possesses a distinctly female essence, with all the characteristic features, this fickle infernal creature remains misunderstood.
Young and beautiful on the one hand – authoritative and unhappy on the other, she clearly defines the rhythm and manner of people’s lives. Often because of her sentiments and disillusionment, people become depressed and weak, however, the hurricane within them does not subside. Mavka is ready for sudden actions.
The creatures of the other world sense time differently. They are ready to speed it up or slow it down, sometimes even “compress” it in case of necessity. Mavka is extremely good at this. When she’s interested, she is ready to speed up many processes or to slow them down or even forget bout them for several years. Once again, only for abstract feelings – worldly wellbeing is meaningless to her. This perhaps is the central conflict between the Ukrainian folk and the creature from the other world, responsible for the country.
One should not overlook the enemy of mavkas/niavkas. Tchugaistr. Male demon. A powerful, violent maniac living in the nearby forest. He hunts mavkas and niavkas and tears them in two, sometimes devours them. The issue is – why? The answer is – just because, so they don’t run around. Our Mavka knows about the danger and frequently manages to escape or turn into a tree.
Her main weapon, however, is not magic, but beauty – she herself is unbelievably beautiful. Mavka is the one capable of “saving the world” or at least help it to love itself.

Vitaliy Gnativ, journalist, art critic, curator, Kyiv, September 2009