The Banality of Evil

Bucha. Spring 2022

Attached to the photographs are lists of Russian soldiers based in Bucha that I wrote. Video recording of the performance «Lists». Duration 10 minutes.
The photos were taken by me in Bucha in April 2022 in the first days after the departure of Russian soldiers. There are no people in the photographs, they died, there are no killers, they left. The pictures show the places where the Russian military killed people: checkpoints, places where there were snipers and soldiers were based. In one of the houses, Russian soldiers justified themselves by leaving a cynical inscription for the owners of the house: «Sorri, this is an order.»
The researcher of violence, Hannah Arendt, discovered the phenomenon of the banality of evil. This is thoughtless obedience to laws directed against the foundations of life. The writer watching the trial of the Gestapo who killed millions of Jews. This helped her understand how the Holocaust became possible. The great tragedy occurred through the efforts of insignificant individuals who performed their official duties. Evil is not created by supervillains, but by gray, small people who follow orders. The Gestapo man showed no hatred towards the Jews and did not reflect on the morality of the orders. He dreamed of rising to a higher rank and abandoned any moral guidelines.
When committing banal evil in the name of official duties, the reverse side is mass murder.
During a trial, a specific defendant is at the center, not the entire nation. When the former Gestapo man was put on trial, he was held responsible only for his role in the massacres. Understanding the guilt of a single criminal helps to understand the degree of involvement of others. Evil, committed as the daily work of hundreds of people, in the minds of the majority was not even perceived as a violation of something forbidden. For the Gestapo, evil in the form of the daily methodical murder of thousands of people turned into routine work, that is, into “banality”.
The Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine posted information with lists of Russian soldiers who were at the time of occupation in Bucha. I manually wrote down all the names of Russian soldiers from this list. Thus, I returned personal responsibility to every Russian soldier for the genocide in Bucha. I want to keep the names of murderers and rapists in history, evil must be named.