I Z O L Y A T S I A
Simulated environment, beta v.0.7 available for Mac OS and Windows, 2021
The digital environment simulates Izolyatsia - a former factory and art centre turned into a prison in the artist's hometown Donetsk, Ukraine. After the city's capture in 2014, russian paramilitary troops seized Izolyatsia, looted and destroyed the artworks. Now its building is used as a military base, training facility for the soldiers and concentration camp with a secret status. Detainees who were convicted without investigation are imprisoned there. Men and women have been tortured, raped and murdered in Izolyatsia for almost a decade.
The Torture Camp on Paradise Street, a book written by Stanislav Aseyev incarcerated in secret prison for his journalistic work in Eastern Ukraine, became one of the first informational sources for creating a programmed model of the place. Izolyatsia before 2014 was modelled based on archival material and artist's recollections about the place. Izolyatsia under occupation was reconstructed through analysis of survivors' testimonies and memoirs. The virtual post-war Izolyatsia is the space for remembrance, an exploration of future imaginaries while bombs still fall.
Illegal (and often secret) detention is a tool widely used by russia to oppress and control residents in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories. Researcher and author Laleh Khalili argues that containment is envisioned as an opportunity for social engineering of the people and places that are conquered. The hidden violence generated by ever-expanding empire is embodied in mechanisms of incarceration.
Navigating an incorporeal avatar the user can experience multiple dimensions of russian occupation and necropolitics by revealing insights about its nature and underlying causes, time travelling and crossing the borders in the so far unreachable parts of the Ukrainian east. Throughout the journey across fragmented narratives, the audience is invited to discover layered temporalities of memory, mourn and commemorate.