The body in war mode

The body in war mode

e-flux Notes

Ilya Isupov, Igor Girkin Carries the Sprouts of the Russian World, 2018.

April 20, 2022
The body in war mode

As the war in Ukraine enters an unsettling new phase, with Russian forces launching a concentrated assault on the east of the country, e-flux Notes continues to provide a platform for first-hand testimony and critical analysis of the conflict. In a series of moving essays, Ukrainian artists and writers have borne witness to the emotional and physical toll of the invasion. Nastia Teor, enduring the Russian bombardment of Kyiv, describes an altered relationship to her own body, which “lives in war mode now.” In a similar reflection on the body, Olexii Kuchanskyi writes that “Putinism,” with its love of military technology and destruction, “evinces a hatred for the body.” This is a body that experiences the terror and chaos of air raids, but also, in Evheny Osievsky’s telling, the surreal mundanity of the lulls between attacks. Writing from Russia, Oxana Timofeeva describes the courage of anti-Putin peace protesters there, who bring their bodies into the streets despite severe government repression.                       

Zooming out from these on-the-ground accounts, other contributors to e-flux Notes have examined the discursive dimension of the war. In debates among leftists about sending military aid to Ukraine, Jörg Heiser discerns curious sympathies and troubling arguments. The rhetorical tactic of “whataboutism,” writes Heiser, is too often an “excuse for doing nothing.” Meanwhile, Bilal Khbeiz fears that media coverage of the war is leading to a hardening of ethnic and national identity, not just in Russia and Ukraine but around the world.

The invasion has also provoked intense discussion about Russia’s relationship to colonialism. In an essential piece at e-flux Notes, philosopher Adrian Ivakhiv distinguishes between calls to “decolonize Russia” that advance the cause of emancipation, and those that advance an ultranationalist agenda.

e-flux Notes is our new platform for short-form writing and image-based art. Designed as a companion to e-flux Journal, the platform is a hub for topical interventions and cultural debate.

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