When You Are Asleep/// Volodymyr Kuznetsov

When You Are Asleep/// Volodymyr Kuznetsov

For Volodymyr Kuznetsov, the recent nighttime meetings of the Polish Parliament became a metaphor for contemporary representative democracy whose participants are being lulled to sleep with a lullaby on how the belief in their own agency is a sign of ignorance or, at best, childish naivety.

Until recently, it might have seemed that twenty-five years ago Poland had witnessed a triumphal come back of parliamentary democracy which, allied with the neoliberal version of capitalism, provided an unstoppable force. No one seriously considered a possibility of regress, while all malaises of the new system were accounted for by Polish masses being still not fully skilled in democracy, that they needed time to learn it, while politicians were right on the point of becoming mature enough to appropriately represent the people. The monotonously repeated thesis of “learning democracy” slowly yet steadily brought us into the state
of blissful sleep.

At present, under the cover of the night, politicians effect exorcisms on democracy, seeking to expel its ghost from the newly resurrected national body. Our relation to parliamentary democracy in Poland no longer resembles a heavy sleep that allows one to release past traumas. At present, we are in a state of deep sleep paralysis, when we fearfully observe our own impotence. Images of politicians move in front our eyes, yet we cannot open them paralysed with the weight on our chests and petrified with the feeling of involuntary fall into the abyss.

Although sleep paralysis usually does not last long and moves smoothly into sleep, one can wake up from
it – suffice to remember about one’s own breath and take control over it. Democracy does not have to be
a vision and an empty dream, but it can become the very air that we breathe every day.

Hubert Gromny


Volodymyr Kuznetsov (1976, Lutsk) attended the department of art of Lviv Art Academy between 1999 and 2005. He is the co-founder of the Straight Line group, the Artistic Council, the CCCK – Centre for Communication and Context, as well as the artist group R.E.P. (Revolutsijnyj Experymentalnyj Prostir / Revolutionary Experimental Space). He was and is still involved in Maidan and post-Maidan activities, such as assemblies and self-organized initiatives. He takes part in solo and group exhibitions in Ukraine and abroad.

In his practice, Volodymyr Kuznetsov is interested in topics which combine the private and the public, the old and the new, and in which different contexts and unexpected meanings are interlaced. He focusses on the aesthetics of everyday practices as well as on the presence of the archaic in the contemporary. He considers memory as a sort of experience and generates new concepts through personal and collective knowledge. Volodymyr Kuznetsov lives and works in Kiev.