The Theatre of War


The Mordant Family Moving Image Commission for Young Australian Artists is created in partnership with Professor Cav. Simon Mordant AO and Catriona Mordant AM, the City of Melbourne, John Allsopp from Web Directions, and ACMI

Film ACMI commissions
Image courtesy of the Artist

Homer’s epic poem The Iliad begins nine years into the bitter Trojan War between the Achaeans (Greeks) and the city of Troy. Similarly, Stanislava Pinchuk began filming The Theatre of War in 2023 – nine years following Russia’s invasion and annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea in 2014.

Across three global locations, three different performances draw on the oral traditions from which The Iliad evolved. In antiquity, the poem was presented over three days and accompanied by a lyre. The music helped performers, known as rhapsodes, recall the poem’s verses by matching the rhyming structure to the beat.

At the tomb of Homer on the Greek island of Ios, two local teens uphold that musical tradition, keeping the beat. One wears a football jersey emblazoned with kleos (glory). Visitors to Homer’s tomb endlessly rearrange the loose stones, a fitting metaphor for the shifting nature of storytelling, through time and translation. The Mediterranean Sea, where Ios lies between Greece and Troy (present-day Hisarlik in Türkiye), is also considered a ‘theatre of war’ because of the deadly passage migrants make through its waters.

A Ukrainian soldier training with British, Canadian and Australians forces in Salisbury, UK adds his voice. He is preparing to fight for his country in Copehill Down, a mock village built to practise urban warfare.

In Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slavic polyphonic singers rehearse and perform in a literal war theatre, where during the city’s siege (1992-1995) art became a form of resistance, most notably with the staging of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot by Susan Sontag.

Just as The Iliad contains gruesome descriptions of death on the battlefield, the artwork focuses on both the vitality and vulnerability of bodies in contemporary ‘theatres of war’.

Stanislava Pinchuk filmed at Operation Kudu in the United Kingdom as the official war artist commissioned by the Australian War Memorial in 2023.

About The Iliad

The Iliad was written around 800 BCE and like The Odyssey, is attributed to Homer, about whom little is known beyond the fact that his was the name attached in antiquity by the Greeks themselves to the poems.

The Acheans (Greeks) have held the city of Troy under siege for nine years. Achilles, the strongest Greek warrior is furious at his compatriot Agamemnon, who has laid claim to a Trojan woman previously given to Achilles as a spoil of war. He refuses to fight, causing the near defeat of the

Greek army. When Achilles’ friend Petroclus is killed by the Trojan prince Hector, Achilles focuses his rage on Hector and returns to the battle to kill him. The poem ends with Achilles allowing Hector’s father to take his son’s body back to Troy for burial.

Translator of The Iliad, Emily Wilson writes, “The limitless wrath of Achilles can only end once he recognises that no absolute, permanent victory is ever possible. Everyone must bear unbearable losses, for which no compensation could ever be enough. In the end we all lose. Our best hope is to accept partial, temporary limits on conflict, accepting human companionship and community as our only, always inadequate compensation for the pervasive experience of loss.”

Artist biography

Stanislava Pinchuk’s work explores the changing topographies of war and conflict zones through drawing, installation, tattooing, film, and sculpture. Pinchuk surveys the ways in which landscape holds the memory of political events and the violation of human rights. Her source materials, such as data,

documentation and detritus are collected through fieldwork. Pinchuk’s critical practice reconsiders perceptions of geopolitical borders, migration, climate catastrophe and nuclear crises.

Recent curated exhibitions include: Manifesta 14, Prishtina, Kosovo, and FREE/STATE, Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art. Pinchuk’s artwork and publishing archives are held in numerous Australian and international private and public collections.

Pinchuk was born in Ukraine in 1988. She graduated from the University of Melbourne with a double major in Art History and Philosophy. She lives and works in Sarajevo.

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