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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.


Whats Up?

Sculpture Gives Yulia Nude Treatment

In a move that will appeal to many local male ex-pats, for whom Ukraine’s prime minister is somewhat of a fantasy object, or maybe to the boys up in the Kremlin (who you just know are tortured by sweaty dreams about Yulia), a Luhansk sculptor is putting the finishing touches on a nude sculpture of Prime Minister Tymoshenko. As far as we can tell Yulia didn’t personally pose for the sculptor, Mykola Smatko, who’s calling the sculpture ‘The Ukrainian Aurora’. He says it ‘combines a fighting spirit, strength, and beauty.” The life-sized, classical-style white marble sculpture, which has the naked prime minister in a sort of contraposto postion, much like one of Michelangelo’s nudes, doesn’t look completely like the illustrious politician, in our opinion. (We have in mind the face – the rest we can’t vouch for.)

Smatko’s Yulia is chunky-faced and cheerful-looking – more like a friendly librarian in provincial England, perhaps, than dark-eyed, part-Armenian Tymoshenko, who’s arguably the least likely woman to smile benignly from behind a library counter in the world. Yet the trademark peasant braids are there atop the sculpture’s head. She also wears a thick string of pearls around her neck, the clasp of which is emblazoned with Tymoshenko’s Cyrillic initials.

“It seems to me that every artist – a poet, a sculptor, a writer – endeavors to reflect his times and the heroes who incarnate his intentions in life,” said Smatko. “I decided to work in two directions and say that Yulia Tymoshenko is a special person, she embodies the fighting spirit, and at the same time I’d underscore that she is Ukraine, the true Ukrainian woman.” He estimates that the piece will sell for half a million dollars, and wants someone to buy it and exhibit it in one of Ukraine’s best art museums.

This is not the first time that Tymoshenko - whose looks combine with her ambition, power, and ability to destroy her (mostly male) political opponents with sneering invective make her irresistible to men who like that sort of thing - has been cast as a sex symbol. Those into Slavic smut will remember that ‘Yulia’ featured in a series of Russian-made porn movies in aftermath of the Orange Revolution. The porn version of Yulia, wearing the famous braids, did X-rated things with an actor who looked somewhat like Georgian President Mikhail Sakaashvili, in a film that combined hatred with prurient fascination to an extent that even Freud would have found shocking. Anyway, we suspect Tymoshenko’s ego will be gratified by Smatko’s gesture and we hope that he’ll go on to create a grotesque series of other nude Ukrainian politicians, starting with Nestor Shufrych, Natalia Vitrenko, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

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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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