“CITIES OF WAR”, The UN International Court of Justice, The Hague, NL, 2023. © Daria Pugachova. Photo: Hosein Danesh (1), Milton Verseput (2,3)


The war that Ukrainians carry within themselves turns every city we come to into a city of war. Being in a safe place like The Hague I keep living in war. The loss of our home, the loss of our country – Ukrainians carry this loss within themselves. Whenever we go, trying to hide from the war, it’s impossible to escape. The war keeps living and growing inside. The war paints our lives into blackness. The war never ended for us.

I want to keep doing this performance in the ‘peaceful’ cities of the world to show that war never ends when we come to safety. There is no peace. Because we are here. This is how we feel in our fragile homes in Ukraine. And this is how we feel here, being surrounded by peace. There is no peace for us. Any city is a city of war.

With the victory of Ukraine and acknowledging all Russian crimes that they committed to our country and people – the war should end.


“CITIES OF WAR”, The UN International Court of Justice, The Hague, NL, 2023. © Daria Pugachova. Photo: Milton Verseput (1-2), Hosein Danesh (3-4)

The Cube

The architectural project of The Cube was undertaken with the assistance of Michael Hadjistyllis, an architect from Cyprus whom I met in Rotterdam, and he kindly offered his help with the design and installation. I also consulted with my friends and fellow architects, Eugene Bogira and Svitlana Usychenko, who contributed their ideas to the project's design. I have known them since my time studying at Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture.

The laser cutting of the cube was carried out in my hometown of Rivne by the local company PSDRUK. The Cube was delivered to the Netherlands by Max, a driver who regularly transports people from Ukraine. It took two days for The Cube to travel from Rivne to Rotterdam. I am genuinely grateful to all these individuals who made both small and significant contributions at each step, bringing The Cube to life and ensuring its safe arrival.

“CITIES OF WAR”, The UN International Court of Justice, The Hague, NL, 2023. © Daria Pugachova. Photo: Milton Verseput


The costume that I am wearing is a result of a collaboration with Dutch artists – Aliki van der Kruijs & Jos Klarenbeek. Their project known as Kadans 2.0 examines how the motion of the sea can be a direct source for an ever-changing weaving pattern. Their project sprouts from a shared curiosity for invisible natural processes and uses these as a source of information for developing patterns and materials. Textile production combines sciences, including oceanography and mathematics, constructing a soft output of complex data generated by sea waves' motions.

I discovered Aliki and Jos's work while visiting an exhibition at Garage gallery in Rotterdam, where I was captivated by their unique textiles, particularly the camouflage patterns generated by data from the sea. I proposed a collaboration with Aliki and Jos to create a suit for the performance featuring their patterns. Unlike conventional military camouflage produced for war purposes, this camouflage is created by the sea's natural expressions, emphasizing that nature does not create for war. This suit symbolizes the artist as a warrior, advocating for freedom and a peace with a weapon of art. I cannot express enough gratitude to Aliki and Jos for their generous artistic contribution and willingness to collaborate, bringing my vision to life in this performance.

The bodysuit was created by my friend and talented designer MAKI, who owns his production facility in Rivne. After the full-scale Russian invasion, MAKI voluntarily sewed uniforms for the Ukrainian armed forces. MAKI’s mother, Svitlana Tsypan, was the one who sewed this suit for me in such a short time. I am incredibly grateful to MAKI and his team for their high-quality professional work, even under the pressure of war. During the production period, Rivne, Kyiv, as well as many other Ukrainian cities, were once again attacked by Russia.


I would like to express my gratitude to the Ukrainian Embassy, Ulyana Bun, and the Vataha organization for their assistance in obtaining permission for this performance. I am also thankful to the Goethe Institut for providing a space to live and work peacefully in Rotterdam. Special thanks to the INSPIRE research project for supporting my artist residency in Rotterdam and the creation of this piece.

I want to acknowledge my co-residents, artists Diala Brisley, Khalid Shatta, and a professor-researcher Cindy Horst, with whom I have been working in Rotterdam on topics of war and oppression. They have been incredibly supportive throughout the entire preparation process.

I also want to extend my appreciation to my friend, playwright-director Kevin Doyle, who traveled all the way from Denmark to the Netherlands specifically to support this performance. Last but not least, heartfelt thanks to my parents, Marina and Euvgen Pugachovy, who have supported me every step of my life up to this moment.

This performance is dedicated to the brave Ukrainian people who are fighting against russian agression for 580 days, protecting their homes, lives and freedom.


“CITIES OF WAR”, The UN International Court of Justice, The Hague, NL, 2023. © Daria Pugachova. Photo: Hosein Danesh

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