Culture in a Time of War
By: Claire Cao
The Russian-Ukraine War has not only taken the lives of many innocent people and decimated thousands of buildings, but has also begun to chip away at the culture of Ukrainian people. Public displays of art have crumbled to the ground, much like the stability throughout Ukraine.
The few pieces of art that do remain have been put under safekeeping as more and more monuments fall victim to the attacks.
Just outside Kyiv in Borodianka, soldiers killed countless civilians, destroyed buildings, and damaged a monument to Taras Shevchenko, the seminal 19th-century Ukrainian poet.
Many Ukrainian citizens have also stopped visiting museums, attending concerts, and appreciating arts in any form. Why indulge in the arts when the war is still raging?
However, art plays an essential part of our history, society, and culture even during times of war. In the future, the endless lines of text written in a textbook will not fully capture the harsh realities of war. However, art can help people cope with the suffering and give future generations a unique view into life during a war.
In the past, renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso have created many works of art about war. For example, Picasso’s “Guernica” exhibits universal grief from the bombardment of a Basque village during the Spanish Civil War.
Currently, a team of female Ukrainian women have been utilizing their artistic talent to use art as a medium to showcase the war from a civilian point of view. These haunting images of the everyday suffering people face serves as a call to action on the national and international stage.
As the war continues on, many Ukrainians feel that their culture, way of life, and pure existence is being targeted. As more and more cultural monuments fall, there has been a national movement to protect all that they have left.
Many iconic paintings held in museums have been locked away in fear of them being destroyed.
Volunteers are putting up sandbags around Ukrainian statues from the past in an effort to take a stand and protect their culture.
Although the war takes a tremendous toll on citizens and the arts, suffering inspired local artists to express their turmoil through art. Although Ukrainian culture is under attack, citizens are ready to give their all to protect their homeland and way of life.