About the infinite body and the (im)possibility of loss

Unlike the poet Khlebnikov, who declared himself chairman of the globe, I urge you to feel like a globe.

Everywhere is my eternal home, my endless body.

— Fedir Tetyanych

The works you are about to engage with have been saved; however, their salvation remains partial and temporary. Some of them were stored in Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine and had been evacuated at the request of the artist’s family following the first wave of artillery shelling in Kyiv. The rest has been kept in a Kyiv apartment until last week. Today, Russian missiles are reaching the center of the Ukrainian capital again.

Through these works, we wish to conceive an informative and striking exhibition. Hopefully one day, this will be made possible. For now, what we are able to present to you is an open archive of the rescued works, an archive that has yet to acquire a clear structure.

The works of Ukrainian artist Fedir (Feodosiy) Tetyanych are threatened, though not only by rocket fire. For decades, these objects and forms, which can be divided into collages, assemblages, sculptures, installations, costumes, sketches, and paintings, were disintegrating. They were made from found materials following  the artist’s ecological approach, and were not meant to exist forever. Having not received enough public attention to be preserved and restored, they gradually turned into garbage, returned to the landfill from which Tetyanych had once taken out elements for the conception in the first place.

There is very little information about Tetyanych who died in 2007. The known fragments of his biography are unsystematic and partially mythologized. These myths began during the artist’s lifetime and were, in fact, driven by his own efforts. The physical decay of his works and the uncertain nature of the knowledge surrounding  them became elements of a rather effective machine of forgetting. Tetyanych kept secret the meaning of the word “Frypulya”— another version of “Fripulya”—which was his pseudonym as well as the name of a worldview system that combined elements of cosmism, ecological thinking, and transhumanism, and involved blurring the boundaries of one’s self. In a network of multilevel connections between human and nonhuman elements, “everywhere is my eternal home, my endless body,” he wrote in his poem-manifesto. Postulates from this poem, garbage sculptures, projects of “biotechnospheres” (individual modules for the existence of the human body in the future), street actions and performances, and all other signs of Tetyanych’s presence appear as  manifestations, under which the existence of a hidden system can be located, its scale and integrity remaining in the realm of speculation.

Fedir Tetyanych was born in 1942 in the Kyiv region. From 1961 until 1966, he studied at the Kiev Art Institute, and quickly became a monumental artist. He carried out state orders to design public spaces—institute lobbies, factory checkpoints, facades of educational institutions, public transport stops—in the USSR and its political predecessor, the RSFSR. In the 1970s, he began to develop the doctrine of “Fripulia-infinity,” an open system in which clothing could be an extension of the human body, houses an extension of clothing, and spaceships an extension of houses under constant transformation. The earth and everything that grows out of it in this system are a continuation of the soil that covers the artist’s canvas, and planets are depicted as organ of his own body. Later, in the 1980s and 1990s, elements of this system built up to the biotechnosphere; the recycling of all possible used materials, the reorganization of industrial production as a public spectacle (the idea of ​​a “theater factory”), and street actions in costume. In the late 1980s experimental works of the artist began to be publicly exhibited. In the 1990s and 2000s, he often participated in performances organized by independent alternative music groups, becoming a cult figure for a new generation of artists and musicians.

Having been partially forgotten and mythologized, without any museification efforts, a few sporadic attempts were made to reveal at least some aspects of the giant authorial system of Tetyanych. The most extensive was the exhibition Fedir Tetyanych. Canon of Fripulia at PinchukArtCentre in 2017.

The gradual destruction of a large number of works followed.

The beginning of the war in 2014, and its intensification in 2022, paradoxically shed light on Ukrainian culture and its phenomena, which we are presently at risk of losing forever. But Tetyanych’s system is about the impossibility of complete loss, the self-preservation of human life and creation through the establishment of more equal and non-hierarchical relations with the nonhuman world. The keys to this system still take the form of sheets of yellowed paper, collages from Soviet magazines, canvases with a damaged layer of paint, assemblages that gradually disintegrate — a world of fragile material objects, whose vulnerability in the face of war risks overexposure.