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¹7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope


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28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidan’s three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the country’s stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.

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Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard – and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.

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Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.

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Kyiv Culture

Tired of the crass Hollywood product that typically floods Kyiv’s movie theatres? Then head over to the Kyiv cinema, where films by legendary Italian modernist director Michelangelo Antonioni will screen through 19 October.


This week the PinchukArtCentre launches a new exhibition of works from some of the world’s best contemporary artists such as Damien Hirst, Antony Gormley and Jeff Koons, which will sit alongside the best Ukraine has to offer.


On 18 September Arena Entertainment will host ‘Political Doll Parade 2007’, Ukraine’s second charity doll auction. It’s being organised by the Modus Vivendi Women’s Charity Organisation headed by Eugenia Gubskaya, known for establishing the Kyiv health club Favorit and a number of charity programmes for kids. What’s On talked to Evgenia about the idea behind the upcoming event.


From September 7-14, Ukraine’s Gogol Festival will be held in Kyiv’s Mystetsky Arsenal. The contemporary arts festival is being organized by Vlad Troitskyi, who is wellknown for his successful ‘Dakh’ and ‘DakhaBrakha’ theatre and ethno-house musical projects. The event will include a number of art, theatre and musical projects related to the work of Nikolai Gogol, the Ukrainian-born writer who became one of the giants of Russian literature.


Pig Parade is an annual charity arts festival organised by Kyiv socialite, restauranteur and wife of star Dynamo player Vladislav Vashchuk, Margarita Sichkar, which raises money for disabled and homeless children through the auction of ceramic pigs illustrated by celebrities. Now in its third year, the idea for the event first came to Margarita after witnessing similar parades abroad such as the International Cow Parade. After a little research she found out that various countries have similar parades which include animals as diverse as bears, camels, kangaroos and many more. Margarita thought the idea would do well in Ukraine and found the choice of subject animal easy as Ukrainian’s have always had a fascination for the pig.


Gala Radio DJ Anatoliy Vexlarsky, so long used to spinning discs has turned his hand to something new and written a play starring himself alongside other Kyiv celebrities. The premiere of ‘MoralEast’, which has a high moral content, was well received. Readers can judge when the performance is staged again this week.


This week marks the 300th Anniversary of the birth of the Ukrainian sculptor known as master Pinzel, and in honour of the great man a law has been passed declaring 2007 ‘The year of Pinzel’. There has been a great fuss recently about this figure with a number of high-ranking people visiting the museum of the architect where Western Ukrainian governors gathered earlier in the year for purely political reasons, but this time returned, united in honouring the cultural contribution of the man.


Verka Serdyuchka has created a great deal of controversy with his/her catchy Eurovision entry ‘Dancing’, the lyrics of which have been the source of much discussion. A BBC journalist visiting Ukraine to interview the Eurovision favourite brought rumours that the song, in which can be heard the oft-repeated words ‘Russia Goodbye’ is about Vladimir Putin cutting off the gas to Ukraine last winter. Verka vehemently denies that these words appear in her song, but whether her protestations are genuine or tongue-in-cheek is anyone’s guess.


The popularity of Slam poetry readings has been growing steadily in Ukraine since the first festival took place in Kharkiv in 2006. On 10 March, the anniversary of the death of Taras Shevchenko, a festival of this aggressive style of poetry started in Lviv and finished in Moscow four days later, a very positive sign that in some areas Ukraine-Russia relations are in fine fettle. And the encouragement of free expression that is endemic in any slam poetry event can only be a good thing in a developing democracy.

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Every Ukrainian region has its own toy-making traditions which are considered an important element of the many unique cultures that make up the Ukrainian nation. Historically they played an important part in the life of the region’s children and often had spititual qualities attributed to them. “Some toys were endowed with a mystical idea. Unwell babies could be cured by transferring their ailemnts onto rag-doll which were usually burned afterwards,” explains the co-curator of the doll exhibition currently running at Kyiv’s Shevchenko Museum Ludmila Davydova. Sometimes when a child died in infancy parents would even place a toy in the coffin as such folk dolls were often seen as part of the child’s identity.

 Ukrainian dolls were traditionally dressed in the folk costumes of the region, beit casual everyday outfits or festive attire. The most interesting thing about many of these dolls is that they are faceless. “The idea was for children to develop their creative skills by imagining the mood and character of the dolls for themselves. By leaving the face blank children were given the opportunity to think for themselves and create their own fantasies,” Ludmila adds.

 This exhibition has been organized jointly by Kyiv’s Pirogovo Open Air Museum and the Taras Shevchenko Museum and is being held for the fifth time. The exhibits represent traditional handicraft works by masters from different regions across Ukraine. Each visitor to the exhibition can witness the unique skills which are handed down from one generation to the next and are considered to be at the very core of Ukrainian folk culture. “The scariest thing about this tradition is that if we don’t support it there is a very real danger that it could disappear altogether as there are currently no schools or workshops teaching these ancient folk arts!” the exhibition co-curator explains. That is why the exhibition also features master classes held in the foyer of the museum by Kyiv master babushka Varvara Matsella so that each visitor can study this ancient art of doll making and even buy some examples.

 Anastasiya Skorina



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Ukraine Truth
Rights We Didn’t Know We Had

Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Univer­sal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they don’t understand the meaning of these words.


Kyiv Culture

Pulling Strings
Located on Hrushevskoho Street – the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades – children’s favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. What’s On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.

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