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HomeFashionHow Zoya Cherkassky-Nnadi turned Kiev childhood scenes into powerful responses to war

How Zoya Cherkassky-Nnadi turned Kiev childhood scenes into powerful responses to war

Zoya Cherkassky-Nnadi’s childhood Kiev was long gone when tanks rolled into her former neighborhood last February. In an effort to preserve her memory of the Ukrainian capital—which she and her family left for Israel weeks before the Soviet Union collapsed—the Tel Aviv-based artist began a project titled “Soviet Childhood,” featuring vividly detailed ( and engaging schematic style) presents some “sentimental, nostalgic” moments from her Soviet formative years. Now, a year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Cherkassky-Nnadi has dramatically expanded this work, reimagining the Ukraine she once knew in a brutally contemporary context. The work is emotional and unrelenting, and for Cherkassky-Nnadi it is a meaningful way to assess and understand.

Last week, during the final days of a group show in Tel Aviv featuring all Ukrainian-born female artists, Cherkassky-Nnadi accepted Vogue on the occupation of Kiev, then and now.

Vogue: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat. Taking a step back, you lived in Kiev until 15, right?

Zoya Cherkassky-Nnadi: Fifteen, yes .

Can you tell me something about your early life? What was your family life like before you moved to Israel?

I came to Israel two weeks before the collapse of the Soviet Union. I’m sure Kiev is the capital of the world. That’s how I see it, because it’s the capital of Ukraine and it’s a very beautiful city with a lot going on. I think, This is the center of the world . It was a period of reformation. Everything is allowed and everyone is ecstatic because this is something new. Suddenly, you can do things you couldn’t do before. Actually I was very happy when I was young, because everything is open and you can hear western music. But I think about my parents, they were kind of scared of where it was going. I think that’s why they decided to immigrate.

Over the years, after you moved, did you often go to Ukraine?


I’m working on an exhibition about post-Soviet immigration to Israel and I’ve noticed that every time I try to draw Kiev, it ends up [looking like] Berlin because They are somewhat similar. But they’re also very different, which is why I travel. I think, I have to refresh my memory. I have to remember something. But I had no idea it would be such a powerful experience. Especially since I used to go to Russia a lot – Moscow, St. Petersburg – because most of my friends are from Russia. During Soviet times, Moscow had the same vibe as Kiev, only Moscow was much bigger. But when I went to Kiev in 15, I found it very different. In the years I haven’t been there, it’s gotten richer – it now has the same vibe as Prague and Eastern European countries. Not like Russia.



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