top of page

Unless noted, all images

©Polina Schneider


This is Dek Unu Magazine.  In Esperanto, dek unu means "eleven."   Eleven images from a single artist. Eleven artists in eleven solo issues in each publication year. Dek Unu publishes the work of a new artist-photographer in each issue. The artist's work and words are featured in individual focus as the sole purpose for each issue of the magazine.  Unlike other arts and letters magazines which might look for work from a variety of artists to support an editorial staff's theme, at Dek Unu, theme and imagery are always each artist's own. 

In occupied Paris during World War II, Picasso was asked by a Nazi officer, pointing to the painter's masterpiece, Guernica, “Did you do this?” The artist responded, “No. You did.”

A strong thread of anti-war protest art runs through centuries of history and there is a long tradition of opposition to authority, particularly abusive, entitled, anti-intellectual authority, among visual artists. Born in Russia, and now living in Germany, this month’s featured artist-photographer, Polina Schneider, gives us I, Superhero, an artist’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine since February 24, 2022. Life has changed abruptly there since that date and, with this series, Schneider, like so many other contemporary artists, is trying, in her unique and poetic way, to make sense of it.  

While a large fraction of dissident and subversive art is strident, very sharply-pointed, and focused on starkly illustrating the physical horrors of war for both combatants and innocents, I, Superhero is a much more subtle look at the very wide emotional landscape of the conflict, and the ways in which non-combatants, like Polina herself, try to manage their feelings of helplessness, outrage, confusion, and guilt as life goes on. To oppose Putinism and its devastating effect on Russian culture, she nominates Grumpy Cat, a very unusual, somewhat quixotic “superhero” who can, in the artist’s words, “…show how people really feel, how horrified they are about what is happening, and how difficult it is to remain silent.”

11 arrow as Smart Object-1.jpg

These are superbly conceived and beautifully realized photographs, darkly surreal but also almost light-hearted, clearly works of fantasy but, somehow, extra real. No one knows what’s next, the present was once an almost unimaginable future; but, just in case and, perhaps, just in time, Polina Schneider and Grumpy Cat are here to show the feeling of discovering the superhero in each of us.

bottom of page