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The Battle of Good and Evil


by Zarina Zabrisky

Freedom defines Ukraine. The air in Ukraine vibrates with defiance and courage, beating like the sky-blue and sun-gold of its flag. Theirs is the realm of the future. Ukraine lives outside of the Kremlin’s matrix, outside of its dark and dense slavery tradition. It strives to rear away from the past. It rejects the Kremlin’s construct called the “Russian World” and pays for its freedom with thousands of lives. Ukrainian idea of liberty, democracy, and justice stands up to the “Russian world” dogmas of slavery, autocracy, and terror.

The “Russian World” masquerades as an idea of the Great Empire. Behind the drumbeats and banners hide kleptomania, the insatiable thirst for power of the rulers, and a yearning void. In Putin’s Russia, serfs slave and soldiers kill for the state and the KGB grey suits sniff out the enemies and traitors. Priests and propagandists brainwash. The Tsar on top of this dead matryoshka pyramid is planted in the collective unconscious. Dictators come and go. The mummy in the Red Square stays and spreads the disease over the swollen domes and puss-filled crosses. Russia stares into the past, black blood streaming from the empty sockets of its skull. The plague of the “Russian World” crawls over the cancerous brick of the Kremlin and out into the free world—but Ukraine stands at the border. The hordes of Russians outnumber the Ukrainian army. They scorch the earth to sow fear and spread lies to cause panic but they fail to defeat the Ukrainian dream.

Art vs. propaganda

The war is in the brain. The battles rage in cyberspace, a projection of human desires and fears. Comatose Russia is tube-fed the sludge manufactured by the zombie boxes of TV sets. Its collective nightmare blends Genghis Khan’s massacres, the public trials of Ivan the Terrible, Stalin’s xenophobia, the KGB’s paranoia, neuro-linguistic engineering, psy-ops, monuments, mummies, and rituals. The propagandists wake up primeval, tribal instincts, parroting “Power, Opposition, Oppression, Resistance, National Identity, God, Faith” until every meaning had disappeared. They construct the “Russian world” out of the black-and-white junkjard of hatred and zeal, crusades, inquisitions, and holocausts. Victory mania turns into mass hysteria.

The Unconscious

A collective geopolitical nightmare: an enormous sea monster moves its octopus tentacles in peoples' heads. Hydra-like heads rotate like tank cabins. It breathes out black ink, spitting out toxic fumes of slogans, paralyzing the very ability to think. It wants to devour all. Millions of steel teeth, rotting teeth, and bullets in the torture chamber of the absent heart are screeching in our heads and life splits into myriad mirror shards.

The “Russian World” is a travesty, a reality show featuring serial killers. The whole nation is kneeling, bowing, and jerking in pagan throws, in paroxysms of patriotism, wallowing in their suffering. Z-zombies send their brain-dead children to trenches and get off on the masochistic slaving for the Tsar. The state matrix strips them of identity. The meat grinder of myth-making churns them into the sausage-like minced human meat, dense soup of dead heads, soldiers’ severed limbs. Stalin’s slaughterhouse becomes Putin’s massacres in Ukraine: Bucha, Irpen, Mariupol, Kharkiv.

With thousands of deaths blurring the border between good and evil, morality fades away. The “Russian World” kills not just bodies but souls. Art breaks the conveyer of meanings and the cult of death by questioning everything. Art is the realm of nuances and of doubt. Complexities undermine the crowd mentality, military discipline, and blind obedience.

Ideas in Space: The Battle and Rebirth

Reva translates the epic battle of the world orders into the matter. He carves the fight of the abstract ideas—liberty vs. slavery and Good vs. Evil—into space. The language of the war is non-verbal, and the sculptor transforms concepts of new, archaic, democracy, and authoritarian rule into 3-D images. To give corporality to the unspeakable, he erects funeral mounds from the melted metal scrap parts of the Russian rockets and rusty tanks. To depict the horror, he deconstructs the habitual, warping space by cramming it to the brim with coarse structures. The Boschian grotesque bursts with hell fire. Saturated paints and jarring shapes explode the calcified meanings. The richly textured, tapestry-like Lovecraftian chthonic hallucinations burn the retina. The disturbing visions, dense with symbolism, drill deep into the unconscious.

The Evil, Unleashed

The Dragon, the Great Empire chimera, half-dead, lethargic, slithering over the mound of humans skulls and bones in his hidden bunker, obsessed by his lust for gold, wakes up, roaring, raging to devour the world, drink blood, kill, kill, kill, turn the Earth into the into radioactive dust. It howls like a thousand air-raids, squeaks like millions of rats, and rises into the darkening skies, its withering leathery-steel body all dusty tutus, rusty tanks, rat teeth, janitor’s jackets, barbed wire, bloodthirsty matryoshkas' smirk turned into grimaces, interlaced, rotating on repeat, the ballet of chaos and death; screeching and screaming, limping, limbs numb, dragging behind. Up it rises from its damp, dark cave, like a helicopter, down it plummets breathing hell fire, scorching earth, burning cars alive, gnawing on high-rises, and swallowing children, its gray stubble stained in blood. The Dragon needs war. It craves immortality. Its bellowing calls for Empire are agony.

The war rips the very fabric of humanity; Reva’s creations’ curved claws, toenails, and teeth tear through the mental realm. His art, like folk fairytales, gives means to process the ancient horror and the shifting world. They give language to fear and rage. The artist molds a cosmology with Good defeating Evil, mixing sacred shamanic rituals with the ancient totem pole carpentry and AI technologies. A cleansing ritual, initiation, it is a catharsis that rebreathes sense into our collapsed universe: a rebirth. In the midst of the war, art evokes the spirits of the dead and heals the souls of the living—through catharsis, shock, through passionate thinking.

The artist channels the collective ethical and moral power. The break through the representational barrier into abstraction shakes the petrified world of the Kremlin to the ground. By unmasking the disguised visage of the ancient horror, Reva destroys the “Russian World” myth.


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