Protest Art From Kiev’s Independence Square Goes up in Vienna

Myroslav Vayda, Forest, 2012 © Myroslav Vayda, Courtesy Kuenstlerhaus Wien

As unrest in Eastern Ukraine continues to spiral, art from the original protests in Kiev’s Maidan, or Independence Square, has gone up at a Vienna museum. “I Am a Drop in the Ocean” opened at the Künstlerhaus Wien last week with works of 40-some Ukrainian artists curated by Konstantin Akinsha and Alisa Lozhkina.

“Some of the artists created the art directly on Maidan,” Lozhkina told the AFP in an interview about the exhibition. “It was not something where they were sitting at home. . . . They were at Maidan, they created and improvised galleries and they spent several months together with the protesters.”

The show itself is interdisciplinary in focus. Documentary photographs show the balaclava-clad protesters who held the Maidan from November 2013 through February of this year when they toppled president Viktor Yanukovych’s government. Others document performances held during the protests’ more peaceful times. Protest art that found its way onto signs and placards is shown as is graffiti and charcoal drawings made by the protestors. Myroslav Vaydas’s Forest (2012), a sculpture made of stacks of charred tires, perhaps created in anticipation of the unrest, centers the show.

For Akinsha, the art historical relevance of the artworks presented is secondary at best to their ability to keep the spirit of the protests alive during these subsequent, turbulent times: “I really wanted to show this art. I’m not talking about quality of art, I’m talking about the spirit of the event,” he said. “The quality of the art will be judged by the visitors.”

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