In the winter of 2014, a real or falsified photograph from Ukraine went viral around the world, purportedly showing three crucified eagles on display at a villa once owned by the deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. The eagle was the symbol of the Berkut special militia unit that had become notorious for using force against protestors in Ukraine. What once appeared to be an internal Ukrainian conflict evolved into open aggression waged by Russia, whose national coat of arms also depicts a two-headed eagle.
This painting was completed around the same time, which explains the deliberate portrayal of two predatory birds viewed through a wide, fish-eye lens against the sky. The white fence on which one eagle has landed was also a deliberate choice, since fences are a metaphor for fragile national borders. In open disregard of such borders, one country threatens the freedom, independence and sovereignty of its neighbor. The sky is riven by green and yellow explosions and scarred by a ribbon of light resembling the trajectory of a missile.
Jurcikas was also addressing all armed conflicts over borders taking place around the world and how such conflicts might be viewed by the so-called Y generation and contemporary internet culture. The distance established by the lens effect allows audiences to view the scene as one more news report coming across their screens. The vivid, colorful and pleasing tones resemble those found in comic strips and advertisements, creating an absurdly idyllic conflict in the process.
But, much like reality itself these days, this ideal image cannot be trusted: it is infused with misunderstanding, deception and fear. The reality of the image is difficult to distinguish from a virtual falsification, much like the photograph of the crucified eagles.