Saturday, March 19, 2022

Artists fight back for Ukraine; what would you do?

When someone posted on Twitter asking how artists, specifically fiction writers, could continue to create while bad things happen in the world, the responses were numerous. While I haven't been flooded with the creative spark recently, I have done some work, and thought I'd share a few of the many things artists around the world, and in Ukraine, are doing to protest the heinous Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Via France's Observer: metal sculptors have made barricades on roads, soldered from girders. 

'Everyone is doing what they can to defend our city, our country'

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, beginning a war that, to some Ukrainians, felt improbable until the first explosions went off. The resistance effort was immediate. 

On February 25, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged citizens across the country to mobilize against Russia’s full-scale invasion. Thousands of people lined up to enlist in the military.

Meanwhile, everyday citizens were told to take up arms to defend their cities. The Ukrainian defence ministry encouraged residents of a Kyiv suburb to “make Molotov cocktails” and “destroy the occupier.”

Analysts say the Russian military may have been caught off guard by Ukraine’s strong resistance. Bodia said that everyone has become involved in the war effort.

 Journalists are also stepping beyond 'objective' lines, as The Guardian reports:

Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at Channel One, burst on to the set of the live broadcast of the nightly news on Monday evening, shouting: “Stop the war. No to war.”

She also held a sign saying: “Don’t believe the propaganda. They’re lying to you here.” It was signed in English: “Russians against the war.”

The news anchor continued to read from her teleprompter speaking louder in an attempt to drown out Ovsyannikova, but her protest could be seen and heard for several seconds before the channel switched to a recorded segment.

Ovsyannikova also released a pre-recorded video via the OVD-Info human rights group in which she expressed her shame at working for Channel One and spreading “Kremlin propaganda.”

“Regrettably, for a number of years, I worked on Channel One and worked on Kremlin propaganda, I am very ashamed of this right now. Ashamed that I was allowed to tell lies from the television screen. Ashamed that I allowed the zombification of the Russian people. We were silent in 2014 when this was just beginning. We did not go out to protest when the Kremlin poisoned [opposition leader Alexei] Navalny,” she said.

“We are just silently watching this anti-human regime. And now the whole world has turned away from us and the next 10 generations won’t be able to clean themselves from the shame of this fratricidal war.”

Wearing a necklace in the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag, Ovsyannikova said in her video statement that her father is Ukrainian and her mother is Russian.

“What is happening in Ukraine is a crime and Russia is the aggressor,” she said. “The responsibility of this aggression lies on the shoulders of only one person: Vladimir Putin.”

CNN reports on a Russian rapper's protest concert:


Arts venues and civilians have become victims of violent attacks when Russia attacked a theatre sheltering civilians.

Russian forces dropped a bomb on a theatre where civilians were being sheltered in the besieged city of Mariupol, local officials said.

Deputy Mayor Sergei Orlov told the BBC between 1,000 and 1,200 people had sought refuge in the building. The number of casualties was still unknown.

Russia's airstrikes and shells have previously hit a maternity hospital, a church and apartment towers.

Local authorities say at least 2,400 people have been killed in Mariupol since the start of the war, although they acknowledge this is likely to be an underestimate. Many of the dead are being buried in mass graves.

An estimated 300,000 residents are trapped inside the city, where running water, electricity and gas have been cut off. Food and water supplies are running low, as Russian troops have not allowed the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Mariupol's city council said in a statement that Russian forces "deliberately and cynically destroyed" the theatre, saying a "plane dropped a bomb on a building where hundreds of peaceful Mariupol residents were hiding." (Also on BBC.)

How quickly can one become a viral war meme? If you're a ballet dancee who takes up arms, rather quickly. (Washington Post)

"Side-by-side photos of Ukrainian dancer Oleksii Potiomkin, posted recently on Twitter, capture the stark irony of his life. In one shot, he’s an elegant ballet prince, snapped midair in a magnificent leap. In the other, he’s standing in the snow, wearing military fatigues and carrying a weapon.

"In Russia, two principal dancers have broken ties, at least temporarily, with the famed Bolshoi and Mariinsky companies. Xander Parish has quit the Mariinsky, his artistic home since 2010, when he became the first English dancer invited to join the legendary St. Petersburg company, where such ballet royalty as Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Natalia Makarova once danced.

"His decision and those of other dancers protesting Russia’s aggression have impressed Kateryna Derechyna, a Ukrainian member of the Washington Ballet who grew up in Odessa and trained at the Odessa Ballet Academy.

“It is unbelievable to go from all the grace and beauty of creating this art form,” she said, “and then to have the complete opposite, standing with a gun. It’s just unbelievable to see that that would be your reality when one week ago you were dancing onstage. But that’s the fearlessness — doesn’t matter, women or men. We are very strong and fearless. I’m not shocked that the women are willing to do anything for their country and their family.”

Meanwhile, stateside, protests have taken place in many cities. This is while our former heinous president spent years sucking up to Putin, and in 2018, some Republicans even went to Russia on July 4 weekend for clearly nefarious traitorous reasons.

But what can we do now? NPR shared a list of nonprofits to donate funds.

Stars in the House, the hit YouTube series hosted by Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley, announced today that they will host a 10-hour telethon to raise money and awareness for those affected by the ongoing war in Ukraine. Donations from the event will benefit the International Rescue Committee and their humanitarian efforts.

The show will air live on Saturday, March 26 from 9am PT - 7pm PT. It can be viewed and listened to at, Stars In The House's YouTube channel, as well as SiriusXM Stars109. More info's in my short article for the Bay Area Reporter.

Every little bit helps, as actor-musician John Cameron Mitchell did in an Instagram post about his Ukrainian artist pal Lurii, who's selling stained glass art to raise funds.

When Queen performed with Paul Rodgers in Ukraine in 2008, the free Life Must Go On AIDS awareness concert in Kharkiv’s historic Freedom Square drew a live audience of over 350,000. More than 10 million watched the show live on television. In support of relief efforts in Ukraine’s challenges against a new affliction, Queen is returning to that historic concert with a YouTube special screening aimed at drawing donations for international relief efforts. “Queen + Paul Rodgers Live In Ukraine” plays on YouTube Saturday, March 19 at 10A PDT / 1P EDT / 5P GMT. Please make your donations to: UNHCR - The UN Refugee Agency. 


More music: in this moving video, 94 violinists from around the world come together to accompany violinists in Ukraine, some in basement shelters, in a Ukrainian folk song. London-based violinist Kerenza Peacock coordinated the effort: 

"In the space of 48 hours, I received videos from 94 violinists, representing over 25 different countries." If you look closely you can spot LSO violinists Carmine Lauri, Maxine Kwok, Clare Duckworth, Julián Gil Rodríguez, Alix Lagasse and Sarah Quinn. On the website you can read the whole story, donate to charities working in the region and even download the score to record your own contribution: #ViolinistsSupportUkraine 💙💛

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