‘Visibility Means Survival’: How the Art World in Ukraine’s Besieged Capital Is Fighting Back

This week, dispatches from two arts workers who have stayed in Ukraine as the war rages on.

Statues are wrapped up around Lviv Town Hall in Lviv, Ukraine. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Statues are wrapped up around Lviv Town Hall in Lviv, Ukraine. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Artnet News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join us every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more with input from our own writers and editors, as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.

 

Less than a month ago, the world as we knew it was utterly upended by the Russian army’s invasion of the Eastern European nation of Ukraine.

Spurred on by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s dream of restoring a quasi-mythical version of the Russian empire, the assault has unleashed devastating carnage, widespread damage, and a complex political and socioeconomic crisis whose effects have been rippling around the globe ever since.

Yet stories of breathtaking heroism and selflessness have also emerged from the fog of war, and the indomitable spirit of the Ukrainian people has won hearts and minds across continents, leading millions in the West to stand in solidarity with them.

 

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A post shared by Nikita Kadan (@nikita.kadan)

As in any armed conflict, however, culture can become collateral damage. Putin’s war machine has already inflicted irreversible harm on some of Ukraine’s most cherished museums, heritage sites, and it is threatening to do the same to the country’s vibrant homegrown art scene. But as with the rest of the nation, that art scene has much more fight in it than most outsiders knew, and the individuals that comprise the community are banding together.

Two such individuals based in the city—Vasyl Cherepanyn, the director of the Kyiv-based Visual Culture Research Center, and Nikita Kadan, an artist whose work is deeply imbued with his political activism—spoke to Berlin-based Artnet News Europe editor Kate Brown about what it’s like watching the war unfold on their doorstep, and how they are working to counter the crisis by any means.

 

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