Petro Dzyndra Петро Дзиндра

* 1944  

  • "Well, there were funny situations, for example, in Zabolotiv. Because when we were brought there, we lived right at the railway station for two weeks - in the open air, without any premises. We had a big three-piece closet and there was a big drawer inside. And I slept in that drawer. This was my home, this is what I know from stories."

  • "I first heard Russian in the first grade. I've heard it not at school, but during the winter holidays. During the ten days of winter vacation at school, I was sent to a camp in Yaremche. And there, in Yaremche, I heard the Russian language for the first time and that shocked me. And in general… Our language was a little different from the locals because we moved from Yaroslavl - there was a completely different language and it put a little pressure on my mental wellbeing. I stayed there for 4 or 5 days and ran away. Imagine where Yaremche is and where Zabolotiv is - it is about 70 kilometers away. The first train I came across was a freight train, and there were brake pads on those cars, the cars were old. So I jumped on a brake pad and left. And I didn't know where I headed. I wanted to go home. And it turns out that I went towards Ivano-Frankivsk and I was taken away by the police somewhere at the third station. Because in that children camp they made a big deal out of it - the child went missing. And I was taken off the train. And my aunt came and took me with her. That was it, I didn't go on vacation to Yaremche anymore."

  • "Later there was another situation with children. Next to our building, almost side by side, there was a building - some kind of stationery storage. And there was a hole in the wall. There were two of us, two guys, and we climbed there. We didn't steal anything big - we just took notepads for ourselves, just for making records. And someone told on us - I don't know how it happened. The police arrived, they started to investigate the situation. The director started telling them – "Guys, wait. Do you know what kind of children they are? You think that…", - and he says – "never in this life children from a boarding school will be a thief or a bandit. Remember it once and forever." But we were under investigation for a long time, they called us to a police department many times for taking that one notepad. But that passed and everything fell into place."

  • "In general, I know very little about my parents. It's interesting that I don't even know much about them. When we were transported here from Poland, we were brought to a small town Zabolotiv in Ivano-Frankivsk region. In just two weeks after arriving in Zabolotiv, my mother died. And my father died before I was born. I was raised by my mother's older sister. That's why I have very poor materials about my mother and father. When my mother died, it was a very cold winter, and I wasn't even there - small children weren't even taken to the funeral. And later, I don't know why, maybe that's my misstep that I wasn't interested in my mother's grave. I still don't know where my mother is buried. I know in which cemetery she is buried - but I do not know a specific place to this day."

  • "You know, the work on making a death mask is very interesting and at the same time very unpleasant because you are dealing with a dead person. Well, what are the specifics? A death mask should be made literally 2-3 hours after death. This way the mask looks better. The reason is that when more time passes, the person is either embalmed, or the body swells from death, and masks are a little deformed. So the best time is 2-3 hours after death. And, well, a sculptor comes to the deceased, and he stays with the body alone. Everyone, the whole family, steps to the side so that they don't see it, because it's a bit of an unpleasant procedure. And then a silent dialogue between the deceased and the author begins. It is necessary to lubricate the face with vaseline. Everything, where the plaster will be, should be covered with vaseline. Lubricate with vaseline. In the middle from a nape and to a chin the thin strong twine is laid on vaseline, it sticks to vaseline. And completely everything around the head is covered with some fabrics, to prevent dirt from sticking to the … to the deathbed. And the face is completely covered with plaster. When the plaster begins to harden, then the form is cut into two halves with the help of the twine. Because otherwise, I wouldn't be able to take it off, there are locks here that won't let you take the plaster off and you have to break that mask then. And so there are two halves and one is taken to this side, the other - to that side. The most unpleasant moment is the removal of the ready-made form. This is the most difficult because a person has eyelashes, eyebrows, a mustache, a beard. When a face is clean, like on this one, or Iryna Wilde, or Kos-Anatolskyi - it's not that difficult. But when there are a mustache and a beard, it is very problematic. When you start taking off this half, you have to pull harder - and a body suddenly opens its eyes and looks at you and says: "Why are you torturing me after death?" - you know, this is… Well, it's just a form. The author takes this form to his workshop, folds the two halves back together again, connects them, so they become a whole. Again, the inside is lubricated with vaseline, or you can use something else, the lubricant that is used in the sculpture factory - for example, paraffin and diesel fuel. And the sculptor puts together those two forms and pours gypsum in the middle, and then... And breaks this form piece by piece. And in the process, the cast emerges. And if you need a copy, then you need to make a form of several pieces, so that it can be easily disassembled later."

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    Lviv, Ukraine, 08.10.2020

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    duration: 01:12:28
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Ukrainian sculptor with Austrian descent: about eviction from the territory of Poland, the childhood of an orphan and the work of a sculptor

Petro Hamik during his service in the Soviet Army, 1960s
Petro Hamik during his service in the Soviet Army, 1960s
photo: Personal archive of the witness

Petro Dzyndra was born on March 28, 1944, in the city of Jaroslaw (now a county center in Województwo podkarpackie, Poland) in the Austrian-Ukrainian family of Ivan and Mariya Schalk. His father was Austrian, a car mechanic by profession. He died in 1943 of pneumonia in Vienna. His mother, a Ukrainian from the Khamik family, that gave name to one of Jaroslaw’s districts, Khamikivka, performed in an amateur theater. The family also raised Petro’s older brother Roman (born in 1943). Both sons were registered under mother’s maiden name - Khamik. In 1945, as part of the postwar population exchange, they, as well as the families of their maternal relatives, were deported to Soviet Ukraine. Two weeks later, his mother died of tuberculosis. Petro was raised by his aunt Olena Verhun, and Roman was taken in by his uncle Volodymyr Khamik. The families were resettled in separate houses left over from Polish families deported to Poland. In 1953, his brother Roman died in an accident. After graduating from school, Petro was drafted into the Soviet Army in the city of Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg, Russia). After demobilization, he came to Lviv and entered preparatory courses, and then entered Lviv State Institute of Decorative and Applied Arts. He graduated in 1976. His thesis was the sculpture “Sport”, installed near the stadium in the Park of Culture and Recreation in Lviv. In 1967 he met and the following year married Uliana Dzyndra, taking her surname. In particular, he learned to make posthumous masks from her sculptor father.