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  • “Ilyich is just an avatar” Ukrainian space traveller comes to Berlin


“Ilyich is just an avatar” Ukrainian space traveller comes to Berlin

Read the words of Ukrainian performance artist and space traveller Ilyich, who will be performing at CCA on September 2.

Photo: Ilyich

Ilyich is a vehicle. Ilyich is a middle name that disappeared during the refugee process from Ukraine to Germany in the early 2000s. It just got eradicated from all documents.

Then, at some point, it started knocking on my door again, suggesting that the disappearance of something has its own presence and that absence is also a very dynamic starting point for making music and for practising art. Reclaiming this name also means being in the middle again. In this way, Ilyich became something transient, a little bit like a radio.

A radio can receive, but it can never become the actual content it is transmitting. In this way, Ilyich is just an avatar, an incarnate if you like. It’s interesting because as soon as you think of something in terms of identity and representation, you start looking for names, and a good start is to look inside.

A middle name in Ukraine is a reference to your lineage — son of Ilya. These middle names, however, were not only references to the father but also a way for mothers to claim their baby-daddy. A way of making men responsible for their actions, considering how many single mothers there are. For me, in a strange way, it also means honouring motherly aspects at the core of music, myself, and everything that is created.

However, while I think it all might feel and sound like travelling in the high and abstract realms, it is good to remember that there is a lot of hard work involved in making and sharing music and art. And yes, while we are all in this together, everyone’s experiences are very specific. Yes, you have a body, and I have a body, but people also have particular sets of skills, accesses, privileges, politics, possibilities and contexts. In understanding that, starting to listen is the most important thing.

We need to hear about ourselves in many other good and wicked ways without taking our experiences for granted. Listening is very concrete, and it carries our intention, motivation and our agency. Without it, we will keep missing the ways that our presence and practice influence others.

For me, presence and practice, pragmatics and aesthetics, are key. These are the coordinates between which Ilyich travels.

  • ILYICH 2 Sep CCA Center for Contemporary Arts, Tiergarten.