The city of Mariupolis is by the Azov sea. Most of the city’s residents, half a million according to the last census, are working for the steel factory and do fishing, for leisure or food, in between shifts.The rail bridge has been blown up recently; these are times of war. More precisely, and accordingly to Ukrainian officials and the representatives of the newly established pro-Russian republics in Eastern Ukraine, it should be truce peremirja, literally in-between-peace. As the bombs fall in the outskirts of Mariupolis and gun battles are louder than the church bells, it feels like war is coming to the city, instead. A Greek play is being rehearsed in the House of Culture; lions, llamas, and cows are exhibited in a semi-functioning zoo; a paramilitary group occupying a library is fighting the enemy which has settled in the school few hundred meters away. Dancers, soldiers, and workers fix their shoes with the shoemaker Sevelijus, who has a shop at the very center of the city.
Mantas Kvedaravicius teaches visual cultures and critical theory in Vilnius University and conducts a long term film project in Athens, Istanbul and Odessa. He holds PhD from University of Cambridge and has standing academic and cinematic interests in absence, materiality and body in their performative and political manifestations. His last project concentrated on disappearances and dreams in Chechnya and resulted in an award winning documentary essay “”Barzakh””.