In the "Babyn Yar" section of the book, I describe a walk I took in 2012. Everything has changed significantly there. What we see now is not what it was after the war — there was no vegetation there. There was a vast bare ravine where you could not differentiate the earth from the ashes. And precisely, Harlan pointed out that in some places of the concentration camps, ashy fields were planted with genista, which blooms with yellow flowers. It grows very fast and rises on ashes. I do not even know how to talk about it.
The forest of Babyn Yar, the trees we behold now, is a truly remarkable landscape. For me, this walk was like a journey in the movie Blow-Up
by Antonioni, when a person uncovers a crime, takes a photo of it, and then the films are stolen, and only the story remains in the person's hands. That is, we are in front of this space of Babyn Yar simply with its history and with scattered memories.
Then, in 2012, I had a feeling that I needed to return to the monument to Volodymyr Melnychenko and Ada Rybachuk, to some aspects of that competition, and perform something ritual in Babyn Yar. It seems to me that the biggest problem of what has been happening in the last three years is the attempt to find a total language. It is about the power over space and the power over the shared memory.
I remember the terrible scandals surrounding the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in central Berlin. It is even difficult to call it a monument — it is a large object. And if a person gets inside, it is almost a physical experience of death.