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¹7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope

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.


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.


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.


Kyiv Culture

Festival Honours the Great Gogol

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.

Gogol was one of the first masters of short prose in Western literature, alongside Pushkin and Hawthorne. His popular stories about Ukrainian village life put him squarely in touch with the Russian Empire’s literary aristocracy: he had a story published in Delvig’s ‘Northern Flowers’ literary magazine, was taken up by Vasily Zhukovsky and Pyotr Pletnyov, and was introduced to Pushkin. After the triumph of his novel ‘Dead Souls’, Gogol came to be regarded by his contemporaries as a great satirist who lampooned the unseemly sides of Imperial Russia. Little did they know that the 33-year-old author viewed himself primarily as a prophet and preacher, and considered ‘Dead Souls’ the first part of a modern-day counterpart to ‘The Divine Comedy’. Nikolai Gogol (Mykola Hohol in Ukrainian) was born in 1809 in the small village of Sorochyntsi (famous for its big trade fair) near Poltava. Gogol wrote ‘Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka’ (1813-32), a two-volume offering which was to launch his literary career, not while living on his family estate in the tiny Poltavan village of Bolshie Sorochintsy, but in St. Petersburg. ‘Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka’ was filled with fantastical descriptions of his native Ukraine. The inspiration for the book’s stories came largely from Gogol’s mother, who regularly sent her son details from Ukrainian songs and proverbs, the latest village gossip, and even bits of costume which he asked her to buy from local peasants and send to the small attic in St. Petersburg which he rented while working as a humble clerk, the lowest rung on the empire’s influential Table of Ranks. ‘Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka’ was published at exactly the right time; the literary salons of Moscow and St. Petersburg couldn’t get enough Ukrainian folk tales then, with Aladin’s ‘Kochubei,’ Somov’s ‘Haidmaki’ and Kuluzhinsky’s ‘Cossacks Hat’ all enjoying considerable success amongst cultured society types. For financial reasons, Gogol wrote all of his works in Russian – the language of the empire that oppressed Ukraine and suppressed his native tongue.

 But his status as ‘a Russian writer’ should be reassessed, because it’s impossible to understand him without taking into account his ‘Ukrainianess.’ Gogol was the product of a Ukrainian nobility that was in decline as a national phenomenon and a social force in the early nineteenth century. Kyiv is a natural place for a festival in Gogol’s name. Just as Gogol’s writing was, it’s a platform where dialogues between Western and Eastern Ukraine, Europe and Russia, and different forms and styles take place. GogolFest organizer Vladislav Troitskyi says that this year’s event is preparation for a big international GogolFest that will begin in 2009, the 200th anniversary of Gogol’s birth. ‘I want to create an international Gogolfest brand,’ he says. ‘Only our Krok cartoon festival and the Molodist film festival are known elsewhere than here. Everything else is for inside use.’ Trioitskyi says that although Ukraine should be ‘friendly with Russia’ when it comes to the Gogol question, “we have to make Gogol ours in an ambitious way. Ukrainians should remember that Nikolai Gogol was born in Ukraine and wrote about Ukraine, and that Ukraine is actually his main background.”

Exhibition Project
With the help of Kyiv gallerist Evgeniy Karas, Triotskyi got 23 prominent local artists to create Gogol-themed paintings that will appear in the ‘Portrait’ section of the festival, located on the right side of the Arsenal. Another project, ‘Open,’ will be a joint one consisting of the work of a number of young, lesser-known artists. It will be a great chance for fresh names to display their skills for a big, serious audience. The project will be situated on the Arsenal’s left side. The Open program’s best works will appear in the main program of next year’s festival.

Theatre Project
The theatre piece ‘The Death of Gogol’ will be, appropriately, a mystery - there have long been rumors surrounding the way the writer was buried. In 1931, when the Moscow authorities decided to demolish the Danilov monastery, where Gogol was buried, his remains were transferred to city’s Novodevichy Cemetery. His body was discovered lying face down, which gave rise to the story that Gogol had been buried alive.
The play is a mysterious treatment of the theme of life after death in Gogol’s biography, analyzing the metaphysics of his death. The performance will include 50 actors and unusual decorations, with music by the Mychailovsky choir and DakhaBrakha. The play, which is saturated with allusions to the Gogol works ‘Pannochka, ‘‘Viy,’ ‘Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka,’ ‘May Night, or Drowned,’ and others, is about Ukraine’s transition from paganism to orthodoxy. Troitskyi says that he likes Gogol as a dramatist very much, but this time he tried to concentrate on Gogol as a mystical writer. Two other performances, called ‘GogoShynel #3’ and ‘Gogol Et Cetera,’ will also be on the program.

Literature Project
The ‘Gogol as Metaphor’ event, organized in concert with the Lviv Publishing Forum, will see famous writers like Yuri Andrukhovich, Viktor Yerofeev, Oksana Zabuzhko, and Andriy Kurkov come together to talk about Gogol.

Musical Project
The 12-member Lviv ensemble A Cappella Leopolis, which specializes in the music of different historical eras and tries to reproduce period singing techniques, will also appear.
In addition, May 2008 will see a mini-festival of Ukrainian romantic songs, headed by Oleg Skrypka and Nina Matvienko. Troiyskyi says that he might add a Russian component, with performances by Yulianna Kamburova. On 10 September at 21.00, the band ‘Penoplast’ will perform the musical ‘Viy’ - a new project by Borya Kashapov and his team of young and creative artists.
At present there is only one film on the festival’s schedule, but Troitskyi has plans to establish a separate Gogol Arthouse festival. The short film ‘My Gogol’ by V. Yakovenko will be screened on 13 September at 18.00. 

Natalia Marianchyk

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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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