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The Henrikh Semyradskyi Art Gallery : Lesia Maruschak : Project MARIA : The Art Work About The Famine in Ukraine 1932-33


Project MARIA opened in Kharkiv, a city near the Ukrainian-Russian border. Project MARIA, the award winning seminal work of Ukrainian Canadian artist Lesia Maruschak memorializes the Holodomor — state-sponsored genocide by starvation in Soviet Ukraine.

The Kharkiv region is one of the regions most affected by the Holodomor. Symbolically Kharkiv is now in the spotlight of the world media as a city close to the border and may be one of the first to suffer in the case of a military invasion.

For me, this project is also a contribution to the dialogue on social justice and human rights. The current war against Ukraine is based on the same weapons that were normalized during and after the Holodomor: disinformation, denial, and concealment. MARIA is a metaphor for personal and collective suffering”, — commented artist Lesia Maruschak.

The Austrian engineer Alexander Wienerberger, lived in Kharkiv in 1932 and recorded the terrible consequences of the genocide in a photoalbum which is an important record on the Holodomor. His photographs inspired Maruschak’s Counting series.

The project is named after Maria F., a Holodomor survivor who lives in Canada. Her family photograph and story were one of Maruschak’s key inspirations.

The image of Maria embodies the memory of millions of people, her story is a compilation of many reminiscences. The author’s works convey an emotional and rational response to the crime, formed on the basis of the stories of Holodomor survivors. Lesia Maruschak collects visual evidence and verbal stories in the Ukrainian community in Canada and gives a voice to the victims of genocide. The exhibition features vernacular photographs in the author’s interpretation from the series Counting, Transfiguration and Erasure as well as video by George Hupka. Curator — Kateryna Radchenko.

Invisible confrontation, tension and pressure permeate the exhibition space. Photographs of Holodomor victims are placed next to images of soldiers who committed the crime. Other works are printed on light silk, as thin and transparent as our memory,” — explains curator Kateryna Radchenko.

Project MARIA’s 2020-2023 Tour of Ukraine sponsored by the Ukrainian World Congress.


Project MARIA is on view in Kharkiv
Jan 19 – Feb 19, 2022
The Henrikh Semyradskyi Art Gallery
6 Svobody square (North building of Karazin University)
Tue – Sat 12 pm – 6 pm
Free admission. Access to the exhibition requires the presentation of a vaccination or recovery certificate or negative PCR test results. Face covering is required.

Project MARIA has been shown in nine countries, the book based on the project was shortlisted for Rencontres d’Arles Photobook Award in France (2019) and received the Grand Prix Award and Best Book Design Award at the International Book Arsenal Festival in Kyiv (2019).

In September 2020, The Guardian recognized Project MARIA as a not to miss exhibition at the 2019 Landskrona Fotofestival. The first exhibition in Ukraine opened in autumn 2020 at the National Museum of the Holodomor Genocide (Kyiv). After Lviv, the exposition will travel to Kharkiv and Dnipro, followed by additional cities in Ukraine.

To know more, visit the artist’s website:

Facebook and Instagram pages of the project:


Lesia Maruschak was born in 1961 in Saskatoon, Canada. Currently she works and lives between Alvena and Ottawa. The artist overlays and reconfigures traditional notions of imagery, often using the medium of photography as the subject itself. Her work frequently explores marginalized histories and notions of cultural identity. Her works are represented in the collections of The National Art Library, Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Thomas Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, Boston Athenaeum in Boston, City of Ottawa Art Collection in Ottawa, among many others.

Kateryna Radchenko is a curator, researcher of photography, and lecturer. Her research focuses on manipulation, propaganda and vernacular photography. Curator and founder of the international festival of contemporary photography Odesa Photo Days.

Established in 1967, the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) is the global voice for the Ukrainian people worldwide. As an international non-governmental organization, the UWC represents the interests of over 20 million Ukrainians in the diaspora, unites Ukrainian communities and organizations in over 60 countries, and works to support a democratic, prosperous, European Ukraine.

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