News Article

“Icons on Barricades: Incredible Ukrainian Protest Art” by Konstantin Akinsha and Alisa Lozhkina

In January, violence erupted between the Ukrainian anti-government protesters and special forces. At the center of the event was an artist named Maksim Vegera. He said that he couldn’t resist the call of history, and he wasn’t alone. Another famous protest pieces is Koliyivshchyna: The Last Judgment, is an unfinshed mural by Volodymyr Kuznestsov.  This mural depicted the revolutionaries in front of a caldron that held police force, church leaders, and other people that supported the government. But this mural was covered in paint when it was found to be immoral. This wasn’t before it had greatly influenced the Ukrainian art world.  A series of called “The Ghost of Revolution” by Vasilii Tsagolov is another representation of the growing political strains in the Ukraine that was meant to be street art. Yevgen Samborsky and other members of the Open Group created a papier-mâché sculpture called Revolutionary, that was put on display a few days before the uprising began.  The artist moved it around the barricade with him, he was a non-violent protester. The sculpture was knocked over many times, and finally placed in front of the Trade Union Building until the sculpture burn in a fire. Another artist . Lesia Khomenko, from the group Revolutionary Experimental Space sketched pencil portraits and gave them away. She felt this was to show them the importance in the history they were living. Alina Yakubenko brought small pieces of paper to Maidan and asked protesters to write their thoughts and ideas about the protest, she was searching for individual slogasn. Her goal was to show that even though all these protesters came together for a central cause, they still remained individuals. Musicians also came to play classical tunes on the piano in front of the police line guarding the presidential building. In another performance called “The Kingdom of Darkness is Surrendered,” the performers of all ages formed a line and faced the police while holding mirrors shaped like shields, this forced the police to look at themselves during the performance. This performance was seen as a political act by activists who prepared the performance. On February 18, the police and special forces were ordered to disperse the crowds of rioters with live bullets. A group of women painted this scene in psychedelic colors added to the surreal-ness of the scene. 

Out of all the great works that these protesting artists created, the one that touched me the most was the work of  Lesia Khomenko. Her work was not meant for public viewing, her goal was to remind citizens that they were creating their history and choosing their future. Alina Yakubenko’s work was also touching, it was unique to see this type of perspective from all ranges of protesters. I was happy that music performances were included in the protests, I know that music has been a large part of protest in America. And I was happy to see that protesters were able to express themselves in this manner. I thought that the mirrors in the performance were very creative and a great addition to the art within the protest.  It is sad to see that the violence is continuing in this region.



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