Performance and Art

Simon O'CorraMay 24, 2022

What else makes a culture? Apart from the devastating loss of many bricks and mortar symbols of Ukraine's culture, what else could the Russians be interrupting or destroying by dint of their merciless attacks on Ukrainian soil?

Performance and Art are both emblematic of Ukrainian culture, as witnessed by the countless centres of excellence in these fields, which I have spoken of in previous articles concerning the destruction of the buildings that house them. But. Never let it be said that the Ukrainian spirit is dimmed in any way, and with this in mind the prevailing attitude seems to be we will still perform and still create come what may. People seem to want to make art of all kinds and even to include their day by day reflections on the invasion.

A recent exhibition The Captured House, hosted in a Berlin basement of a building, echoes for the visitor the experience of underground living now so widespread in the Ukraine. The show featured some 40 Ukrainian artists' response to the invasion and to open a dialogue about the occupation of Ukraine in relation to the ‘shared house that is Europe. After May 15th the exhibition will move to Paris, Amsterdam and Rome.

Day of Insects, Mikhail Ray, 2022

Solidarity is a strong theme here, and the visitor is drawn into a world which they can relate to, because Ukraine is part of a larger house, and if Ukraine is attacked so, in essence, are other European countries, We all are sovereign states which could be potentially obliterated by an aggressor, or an expansionist practice, which begs the question, how far will Russia go if they get away with this invasion?

To begin with, the word in Lviv is that all the main performance venues are still working. This includes the Opera House, the Organ Hall and The Philharmonic, with its Classical concerts. Also, some composers are trying to work through the troubles, finding solace in the creation of beauty in music, even allied to film. One composer friend says that this practice feeds him and his spirit during the darkest times.

In Odessa there is still hope that Opera House will re-open for its scheduled season but in the meantime performances went on outside the building in March 2022. Opera Performers gave a performance on March 12th.

Opera House Performers gave a concert in March

International Women's Day also saw the Navy band give a performance including ‘Don't Worry, Be Happy', an interesting choice give the constant threat of shelling from the Russian Navy in the Black Sea.

The Ukrainian Band, playing ‘Don't Worry Be Happy' in front of the Opera House in Odessa.

On the same day a local Jewish band called Maminy Deti gave an impromptu concert singing songs about Odessa some from over 80 years ago, ones that soldiers in World War Two would sing at the Front. One member said that they were ready to do whatever they could to help.

Maminy Deti

Elsewhere, a new initiative by students and professors of UNIAN, The University of Art in war torn Kharkiv, is Anima Art for Peace encouraging artists from all over the Ukraine to create an artistic flash mob entitled Art for Peace. The idea is to ask people to create a short video of a performance, drawing, dance, writing anything that inspires, motivates and calls for peace in these troubled times.

A house made by a student from ANIMA Art for Peace and his 10-year old brother Wadym and Anton Balkowy before they escaped Kharkiv.

Voices for Ukraine is another European collaborative project, encouraging Ukrainian Artists to work with non-Ukrainian artists. The process happens anywhere for the Ukrainian artists, where it might be possible to create; in basement hideouts, bomb shelters and even on the streets.

What a joy it is to hear of such initiatives at a terrible time in the history of Ukraine. And, what a revelation technology is proving to be in cross border arts initiatives, when coupled with the human spirit which is in making art and maintaining culture on the ground, where so much pain is being inflicted by a merciless foe.

Simon O'Corra has been a creative since childhood, working in theatre and film and also as a designer and artist. He now combines all these skills to write monologues, duologues, short and feature films and plays. He also has experience in the following: copywriting, research, mind mapping and brainstorming, script editing and mentoring. Simon is a people's person and is a great networker. He currently has a range of short and feature films in development and plays also awaiting production dates post-Covid.

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