Andrii Dostliev, Lia Dostlieva

"Licking War Wounds"

Licking War Wounds


Long-term performance, photographic documentation


This tank-shaped salt lamp was purchased from a souvenir shop in Bakhmut in late 2016. Bakhmut (formerly Artemivsk) is a city in Eastern Ukraine famous for its salt mines. For a short period of time in 2014, the city was under occupation by Russian terrorists from the so-called DPR. Various salt lamps always were a large part of the city's souvenir industry, but this particular kind, in the shape of a tank, has only appeared recently, after the city was liberated by the Ukrainian army.

Such tank-shaped souvenirs are only a minor aspect of the general traumatization of Ukrainian society caused by the war lasting since 2014. This traumatization is yet to be overcome by the Ukrainians, a very long and complex process that might take many years. One of the many war wounds that we have yet to lick.

And we were literally licking (yes, physically licking this salt tank with our tongues) this particular one, day by day, bit by bit. This slow and quite painful process demonstrates the slow and not necessarily successful re-shaping of the object of trauma.

For four and a half years, we’ve been taking a photo each week to record the tank’s state. In July 2021, we finished this project. Hoping that the war would also end soon, giving all of us the chance to finally lick our wounds. But instead, on February 24th, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine. And all art suddenly became futile in the face of bombs falling onto peaceful Ukrainian cities.


Curator of the exhibition: Nestan Nijaradze

Exhibition organizer: The Tbilisi Photo Festival