Speech(less): In Defiance of War

Solo Exhibition of Pomidor Art Team (Polina and Maria)


October to November @ Pennant Place
928 NW 21st Ave, Gainesville, Florida  

Curated by Flounder Lee

This project is dedicated to the brave individuals persecuted in Russia for daring to speak the truth and stand against the war. 

The original version of the project Speech(less)** consisted of hand-sewn flags and shirts. The artists divided it into three parts. The first part, also titled, Speech(less), is dedicated to silence and all that has happened since 24 February 2022, countless individuals have been robbed of their ability to communicate freely. It’s also about being silent and not reacting to scary or unpleasant facts. The book by Eviatar Zerubavel, “The Elephant in the Room,” influenced the artists’ understanding of the nature of public silence. The works in this part have are flags with quotes from many sources, such as news stories. 

The next part was called Fearless and is dedicated to brave people who have dared to speak up openly against the war and regime. They are now considered political prisoners and have been sentenced to inhumane long prison terms or are waiting in jail for their verdict. The portion also consists of flags. 

The third part of the project was called Headless and was dedicated to intimidation and propaganda. The form is a “shirt,” which doesn’t have a cutout for a head. Phrases are on both sides of the shirt, sewn in Russian and English. The idea is that the ideal Russian citizen sitting in front of the TV is not expected to use their head at all.

Flags and standards were often used as power symbols or military signs. The artists attempted to create a new type of flag: not state flags, not presidential or military standards but those that draw attention to peace, anti-war movement, decolonization, and justice. They want to put the individual on the flag, instead of the nation.

The state’s success lies in pushing those who oppose its unlawful war and oppressive regime to vanish, go into exile, and remain silent, erasing any trace of their existence. The artists left Russia at the end of 2022 and want to use the privilege to speak out.

Pomidor Art Team consists of Polina and Maria. For Pennant Place they have taken this project and created replica flags of the handmade originals so that the message can be shared more widely. 

**Speechless – deprived for the time being of the power of speech through astonishment, fear, or other emotion; temporarily dumb; unable to answer. (from Oxford Dictionary)

About the Group

Pomidor group was founded in Moscow in 2018 by artists Polina and Maria.

Pomidor group aims to do social and artistic research and study practices of interaction and cooperation. Artists focused on the creation of socially engaged projects devoted to the themes of fellowship, community building, and emigration. The group views their work as creating situations, experiences, and spaces for the development of critical analysis and solidification of communities. Besides that, the art team focuses on social and political topics.

In 2021 the group opened the first home art residence in Russia, located in the Moscow Area in the house of group participant Maria. The Pomidor residence is a community art project, a residence created by artists for artists.

In late 2022, relocated to the UK.