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Artist Spotlight: Maryna Natkhir

Maryna Natkhir is a Ukrainian artist whose work explores her heritage and the ongoing war in Ukraine

How has your lived experience shaped your practice? 
I was born in Ukraine. After school I finished my studies in Kyiv and realised that I had no plan for the future. Back then I didn’t feel any connection to Ukraine or Ukrainian culture. I was more excited by the Western European lifestyle and dreamt of all the opportunities and a wealthy life. 

For the last 10 years I’ve lived in Frankfurt, Germany. Life abroad, speaking a foreign language and the new environment, took a lot of effort to get accustomed to and I spent the last years fighting for a working permit and full societal acceptance. Two years ago I realised that on my way of integration into the native society I almost lost my personality and my cultural belongings along the way. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine these questions became even stronger. A new meaningful purpose fulfilled me: to go back to the roots. The journey of finding myself is reflected as a main part in my illustrations.  

What are some of your biggest influences and motivations in your work? What issues are you passionate about working on?
I was never good at expressing myself via words. With illustrations I finally found a medium through which I can communicate in my “own language”. I am not afraid to be or look different anymore. Art helped me to realise that authenticity and uniqueness, based on a personality and a cultural background, have a huge value in one’s life. 

I guess the reflexive work about myself and my heritage, but also the ongoing war in my country are big influences in my work right now. The last months were so emotionally overwhelming, that performing art almost felt like meditation at this point while expressing my feelings through it.

How does a focus on women and society feed into your work?
The concepts of femininity and masculinity are always present in my works. I am interested in discovering socially constructed boundaries of gender and sexuality. In my works I often play with common conceptions about genders and sometimes hilarious connections of people and objects or illusions. The faces are almost always covered with masks and are hard to define to one of the classical gender binary. 

Where are you based and what excites you about the creative community around you?
I live and study in Frankfurt. This city fascinated me from the very first day I saw it. Frankfurt is usually associated with the European Central Bank and tall skyscrapers. But once one takes a deeper look of the city, one gets acquainted with thousands of creative communities, subcultures and art spaces. What excites me the most is cultural diversity and a great variety of events. From small art associations, underground students’ collectives or art ateliers, to national museums and galleries, Frankfurt has everything to offer.

Follow Maryna on Instagram HERE


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