About Ukraine

Are you alive, brother? An article to read.

My Facebook feed has been a lot quieter with news from my friends and colleagues in Ukraine lately, which is where I learned so much about what was happening in Kyiv starting last November. It was truly an amazing source for updates and news. Now that the pictures of babies and cat videos are bubbling up to the surface again, I was reminded of a poignant article by Sophie Pinkham, a smart woman I met during my time in Ukraine. Sophie lives in New York, too, and she captured the days in February when we were all glued to our screens just hoping and praying.

Give this article a read.

Shche ne vmerla Ukraina/Ukraine has not yet died

Shche ne vmerla Ukraina is the title of Ukraine's national anthem,  translated as "Ukraine has not yet died." Growing up, this beautifully somber tune was part of almost every cultural event I attended. It was sung seriously, we were required to memorize it, and we stood at attention while singing it at Ukrainian scout camp. It was, of course, outlawed to be sung during Soviet times so singing it freely in America was a strong point of pride. To this day, it is one of the three songs that run through my mind's subconscious, bubbling to the surface when walking alone, during times of concentration and when I feel the need to sing, this song bursts out of me. It's strange, I know, but I attribute it to it's intensity and power.

Never have the lyrics been so poignant in my lifetime as they are now during the war that has erupted in Kyiv over the past few days. Below I have posted several accounts of the anthem being sung by Ukrainian protesters since November. The lyrics are translated below, they powerfully represent the act of solidarity between Ukrainians fighting for their freedom. 

February 18, 2014

February 2, 2014

January 1, 2014

December 14, 2013

December 1, 2013

Lyrics translated into English:

Ukraine has not yet died, nor her glory, nor her freedom,
Upon us, fellow Ukrainians, fate shall smile once more.
Our enemies will vanish like dew in the sun,
And we too shall rule, brothers, in a free land of our own.

CHORUS(×2)
Souls and bodies we'll lay down, all for our freedom,
And we'll show that we, brothers, are of the Cossack nation!

We'll stand, brothers, in bloody battle, from the Syan to the Don,
We will not allow others to rule in our motherland.
The Black Sea will smile and grandfather Dnieper will rejoice,
For in our own Ukraine fortune shall shine again.

CHORUS(×2)

Our persistence and our sincere toils will be rewarded,
And freedom's song will throughout all of Ukraine resound.
Echoing off the Carpathians, and across the steppes rumbling,
Ukraine's fame and glory will be known among all nations.

CHORUS(×2)

Online/Offline, Visuals in the #euromaidan revolution

In the images I see of the huge crowds gathering during the Ukrainian revolution, I have been moved and overwhelmed at all of the hand-made signage and large gorgeous Ukrainian flags waving. At first, the meme that was everywhere was Keep Calm and Carry On, adapted to:

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From Cleantechnica.com

From Cleantechnica.com

Changing one's profile picture to these images and sharing them around social media have been powerful ways to show support and solidarity with the Ukrainian citizens. 

I was really pleased to see this article in Korydor* by Catherine Sergatskova explaining how an individual designer or artist can have a huge impact by allowing their visual messages to spread freely through downloading, printing and using posters on the streets. This article brought to light a very important dual effect that can happen during mass protests: A viewer can take action and become a participant by showcasing these posters in public and the designer of these images can produce a great impact while remaining (preferably) anonymous.

Strike Poster (Страйк Плакат) is a group formed to do just that: share posters to be used during the protests. They write the following on their Facebook page: 
"We are convinced that the fate of the country is being decided today . We encourage all creative people to join nationwide strike and make posters or any other materials. We've created a resource where artists , illustrators , designers can post their works, and anyone can download them to print or put on their pages on social networks." In other words, this system allows a viewer to then become a participant. You can send your works via Facebook or email them

*Korydor is an online journal about contemporary art and culture in Ukraine, put out by the Foundation Center for Contemporary Art in Kyiv. (If you can't read Ukrainian or Russian let your browser translate for you and you will get the gist of most articles.) These are young, smart contributors who are really analyzing and thinking about their country.

From the  Strike Poster Facebook page   Image depicts Ukrainian President Yanukovych

From the Strike Poster Facebook page

Image depicts Ukrainian President Yanukovych

This poster depicts a caricature of President Yanukovych.

This poster depicts a caricature of President Yanukovych.

From the  Strike Poster Facebook page   Translation: I breathe freely (over the colors of the Ukrainian flag)

From the Strike Poster Facebook page

Translation: I breathe freely (over the colors of the Ukrainian flag)

One of the themes that is seen everywhere is the blue and yellow water drop, illustrating the mass movement of protestors: "I am a drop in the ocean, which will change Ukraine." The KRAPLYA website (kraplya translates as "drop") is incredible, and has a page for downloads. The designer of this message remains anonymous as of now, but I hope that this person (or people) understands that it's a powerful, poetic message that is rare to see in the barrage of brisk headlines, flames, and photographs of corrupt politicians.

From the Kraplya website

From the Kraplya website

From the Strike Poster Facebook page: "Italian creative station  H-57  expressed support us and sent his poster. Wished "Che la forza sia con voi" (yes you will arrive with force)"

From the Strike Poster Facebook page: "Italian creative station H-57 expressed support us and sent his poster. Wished "Che la forza sia con voi" (yes you will arrive with force)"

And in the States, when too many people were paying attention to the fate of Justin Bieber, Andrea Chalupa organized #digitalmaidan to tell the rest of the world what was happening in Ukraine. This article and the images below explain it all. 

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Ukraine Right Now- collecting through social media

Since November 2013, my eyes have been glued to news in Ukraine. What started as a peaceful protest has gone horribly astray, due to the criminal government in power. The rights of the Ukrainian citizens are not being respected and it's heartbreaking. BBC, New York Times, Huffington Post, Kyiv Post and other major news sources are covering stories, but the major part of my information is coming through Facebook from friends and colleagues living through this nightmare. Their friends and loved ones are now getting hurt, since new draconian laws were passed on January 16th and violence has exploded around the city.  The images and statements that everyone is sharing is so powerful, and they come through in droves throughout the day, when we here are going about our workdays and watching anxiously from too far away. I am collecting them here, and keeping the anonymity of the source of the posts. This collecting is forming a powerful, informative archive. 

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Photograph by Danil Prikhodko/Demotix/Corbis from  this article  that quotes:   "On paper, Ukraine is now a dictatorship. President Viktor Yanukovych, in having the deputies of his Party of Regions endorse an extraordinary packet of legislation, has arrogated decisive political power to himself. After hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians spent weeks in the cold demonstrating for basic human rights and a stronger association with Europe, the president has responded with a violation of human rights and a rather sad imitation of Russia."

Photograph by Danil Prikhodko/Demotix/Corbis from this article that quotes: 

"On paper, Ukraine is now a dictatorship. President Viktor Yanukovych, in having the deputies of his Party of Regions endorse an extraordinary packet of legislation, has arrogated decisive political power to himself. After hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians spent weeks in the cold demonstrating for basic human rights and a stronger association with Europe, the president has responded with a violation of human rights and a rather sad imitation of Russia."

Photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters from  this article

Photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters from this article

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Food and Euromaidan

Thousands of peaceful protestors on the streets of Kyiv and they all have to eat and stay warm. This is a great article about food on Euromaidan, on the Pickle Project, a blog that is an "ongoing effort to document and share traditional foodways in communities large and small throughout Ukraine as a way of understanding issues of sustainability, change and community." The impact of the group, kindness, and generosity are fueling the kind citizens of Ukraine as much as their hunger for positive changes for their country, legitimate chances for opportunity, and the downfall of a corrupt government. 

Image by Vassil Garnisov, via  The Pickle Project

Image by Vassil Garnisov, via The Pickle Project

Performativity

From the  Performativity website .  

PERFORMATIVITY Educational Art Project was initiated and produced by TanzLaboratorium (Larysa Venediktova, Olga Komisar, Oleksandr Lebediev, with Larissa Babij) in 2011. For two weeks in Kyiv in the summer, choreographers, theorists, artists, and curators from Portugal, Russia, Poland, Canada and other countries converged for a series of events including research laboratories, lectures, performances, and discussions.

This project was really great to attend and see that through passion, concern, a hunger for dialog about art education, and what is actually happening in Ukraine,  a new annual series could emerge. By inquiring about new alternatives, they have begun to establish one.

Larissa Babij, an American living in Kyiv and part of TanzLaboratorium, provided the following on their site: 

"In Kyiv, there is little intercommunication between traditionally divided artistic disciplines (theater, dance, visual art, etc.). The lethally stagnant, formal approach to culture results in most artistic activity being either the repetition of old, established canons or the repetition of "new" international trends; neither of which involves significant reflection on art as art, as Ukrainian art, as part of a local  and  international artistic community-network.

Four members of TanzLaboratorium are discussing the need for alternative art education in Ukraine, more precisely, a platform that could propose a whole new kind of communication – through working together, learning by doing, exploring the concept of performativity. In the context of the project, we understand performativity as "time-based artistic activity that thematizes temporality; it researches the process of transformation of concepts (nouns) into action (verbs)." 

She summarized it quite perfectly.