[…] when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground [...] Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Gen. 2)
Icon of Roman Zilinko is always about a human being - the one we just met on the street, the one who is our relative, our friend, and the one who is our God. Humanity unites us, as well as the earth that holds and accepts us. It hurts so much that now on this earth, so old as the world itself, Saints are not Smiling. Still, it feels easier because they are sorrowful with us.
Romko takes a wooden board (from the tree of good and evil? Or the tree of the cross?), preferably an old one (it preserves memories well, has its history, and roots), then sprinkles it with earth (worthless dust of the ground? Or dust of native land guarded by our ancestors, our friends who leave us here and now?), then paints it with colors, decorates with gold, crowns (as our folk artists have done for centuries, and he continues their work) … and then - before us opens a solemn purple veil of the Holy of Holies.
And what is that we see there? Something very familiar. There is God that reveals to us his Face in a crown of thorns as in a crown of King: it is "Vera Icona" / "True Icon" and, at the same time, it is "Ecce Homo!" / "Here's the Man!". So we are trying to remember everything that happened, and we see everything that is: a sense of betrayal / Kiss of Judas; loneliness / Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane; weakness / Fall under the Cross; pain / Crucifixion; loss / Mary Mourns the Son; sacrifice / Christ in the Tomb; courage / Women of Jerusalem; reflections / Grieving Christ; hope / Resurrection… What a living thing it is for us! The events here and now have become part of the history of the world, and our passions and pains are placed in the perspective of eternity, in the image of the icon that Romko depicts with such feeling and compassion.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. […] And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
This project is not about ground. It is about home, food, purpose, life ... The earth is our perspective, where we will return finally... And the earth is our witness from the very beginning.
This project is about Passions. I did not invent it; it has just appeared as a reaction.
Fifty days after the death of my friend, a great war broke out. And there was so much pain of my own, my family, and of someone else (that is my own now).
With the pressure that split my head, the pain throbbed. We all know it now. It is recognizable in our eyes, in a half-word, in a handshake, in a hug. The pain united us. Although it is different, like the pain of people in Mariupol, Lviv, and Kyiv ...
We are united in suffering. As Christ is united with us. He descended to this ground, He became a man, He suffered, was buried and ... He rose on the third day ...
Christ is the same as we are, and we are as Christ ...
As long as there is an Earth, suffering will unite us ... Till the moment when the new Earth and the new Heaven emerges...