Month of work, traveling and preparations – and finally, the 12th of July and thereby the day of our vernissage had come. The days before we had already spend with shopping, preparing pictures and spreading posters and flyers where we announced our event. On Saturday, the day of our exhibition, we met for the final preparations in the Sprachenatelier Berlin. The Sprachenatelier Berlin provided us with three rooms: One great room where the main part of our vernissage took place as well as two smaller ones where we offered snacks and drinks as well as places to sit and talk.
The Grand Opening of the vernissage was at 7 p.m. – and we were more than surprised when dozens of people filled the main room, awaiting the opening. Overwhelmed by the great interest in our vernissage we welcomed our visitors and and gave the floor to our guest speaker, Prof. Dr. Gerald Geilert, Art Scholar and Professor of Theory of Visual and Audiovisual Media.
Audience listening to lecture. © Musa Aktas
Prof. Dr. Gerald Geilert. © Musa Aktas
In a highly interesting lecture he talked about origins and different forms of Street Art, presented pieces of art from all over the world and analyzed works that we photographed on the Maidan. An exciting discussion emerged as Ukrainians from the audience presented their impressions and interpretations of Street Art on the Maidan. After this instructive lecture the guests strolled around, submitted their bids for the exhibited photos in the „silent auction“ and danced to the great electronic beats that DJane Djämen mixed. All together, we enjoyed an amazing night with our guests – and we want to thank everyone that joined us at this evening.
Also, we want to submit a special thanks to Prof. Dr. Geilert, who did not hesitate a second when we invited him to share his knowledge about Street Art with us and our guest.
Furthermore, we would like to thank Margit Bäumker and Musa Aktas, the owners of the Sprachenatelier Berlin, who did not only provide us with their beautiful rooms but also captured this great evening on photo and took pictures of the vernissage for us.
Thank you everyone for an awesome night!
Our Project Group: Marina, Anna, Christian, Magdalena and Alina
“F**k Putin” – Destroyed truck on the Maidan
On our last day, we decided to take another walk over the Maidan. As the previous days, it was peaceful and not very crowded and we already had grown used to the barricades, tents and tires. But though we had the Maidan already explored a few times before, we still found new pieces of protest art every here and there. But most surprising was the discovery we made, when we passed the exit of the Maidan for the first time towards the stadium of Dynamo Kiev.
Barricades in front of the Dynamo-Stadium
Out of sudden we were standing at a place, where the violent protest was still visible – destroyed pavements, tires and barricades, a catapult. Also everywhere graffiti, insulting Yanukovych and demanding a free Ukraine.
And amidst this demolition we suddenly discovered one of our most interesting pieces: Ukraine, portrayed as a woman, looking through a telescope towards the European Union. Nowhere more we experienced the desire for a western Ukraine more than at this place.
Ukraine looking towards the European Union.
Impressed but at the same a bit sad that the time had passed by so fast, we made our way back home to pack our luggage and take a ride to the airport. Our mood was a bit gloomy – we were overwhelmed by all these varied impressions we experienced during our stay and were also a bit afflicted as we had to leave this striking and welcoming city. But at the same time we were more anxious than ever to present our exciting and diverse findings to you.
Christian, Anna and Magda
Good bye, Kiev!
After breakfast in the Hostel, we walked around our direct neighbourhood too look for some descent street art or graffiti. Since the results were scarce and not satisfying we headed to the Central Station to take a bus into Kiev’s „business district“. While being on the bus we noticed some streetart near some construction sight. We decided to take some closer look and found some interesting and very political street art:
„Im eigenen Haus gilt die eigene Wahrheit, die eigene Macht und der eigene Wille.“
On our walk through the business district we bumped into the “Heydar Aliev” Park next to the Azerbaijani embassy. It was built park in the Memory of the former Azerbaijani Politicial Heydar Aliev.
Monument in “Heydar Aliev” Park
It was a very beautiful park in downtown Kiev in Azerbaijani / Middle Eastern style. After walking further down Glybochytska Street we found a sidestreet going towards a housing project with a huge hall of fame. On this hall of fame you could basically see art from the group “Interezni Kazki”.
Street Art near Glybochytska Street
After having collected enough material, we thought we’d do something more touristic in the afternoon. We decided to drive into the old town of Kiev to take some pictures from the amazing view and to visit the famous Lawra. Lawra is also known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, it’s a historic Orthodox Christian monastery which gave its name to one of the city districts where it is located in Kiev. It is a very holy and important place for the Orthodox. It’s the biggest cave church in Europe, so exploring and seeing every single chapel and part of it was very time intensive – but definitely worth it! 🙂
Fantastic view on Lawra
On our fourth day we asked the owner of our hostel about some insider tips concerning graffiti in Kiev. He reckoned that besides the Hall of Fame along the Dnieper River, we would find also graffiti alongside the rail tracks between the rail station and sputnik park. He said that there must have been an incredible amount of graffiti and street art, which was created during and because of the UEFA Euro 2012. After a quick breakfast we headed directly towards the Central Station “Vokzalna”, since we lived not too far from it.
From the Central Station, we strolled along the tracks towards Spuntik Park (which is located about a 30 minutes walk north-west the Central Station). After a short time we noticed that we were searching in vain for street art and graffiti. In contrast, there were numerous disused factories and stadiums, military and government buildings as well as numerous housing blocks and schools. Nevertheless, the station area was very nice, and of course it was advantageous that the weather was so good. As we finally arrived at Sputnik Park, we realized that here we also wouldn’t find anything of interest. So we decided to head towards the next main road to take the bus towards the city-centre. After a brief stopover on the Maidan, we went directly to the subway station Dnipro.
Graffiti along the Dnieper River
Along the Dnieper River there was a mile-long promenade with concrete walls on the side that were consistently painted with graffiti. In graffiti jargon those were called Hall-of-Fame. These are (mostly) legal, so there has been no shortage of graffiti along the Dnieper River. Nevertheless, we were surprised of the high number and the great quality of graffiti and street art we found there. Of course, Kiev’s art street art pioneers “Interezni Kazki” couldn’t be missing. We found a descent amount of political street art and graffiti, but we would have desired even a bit more. However, residents assured us that many works of art have been painted over or removed by the government or parties. Just before we were about to leave this magical place, we took a closer look to the part that was lying immediately under the Dnipro subway station. There we found the showpiece of our trip: Putin – pictured as Hitler – playing with Ukrainian and Russian DNA.
Putin – Playing with Ukrainian and Russian DNA
Finally the day of the interview had come. We were excited, especially Anna, since she was the one to lead the interview. To strenghten us, we followed a recommendation and went to the restaurant O’Panas, for some delicious ukrainian breakfast. The restaurant is right next to the Taras Shevchenko University and was the perfect location to stay a bit longer and look a last time through the interview-questions as well as discuss our next steps in Kiev again.
Yegor – our adventurous artist
The interview was at 4 p.m. and we agreed to meet with the artist at Kreshchatyk subway station. He really is an interesting person, his appearance as well as his character. We asked him about his passion for art, how he became an artist, what „protest“ meant for him, whether he sees street art as a form of protest and some more questions. He told us that his „art-career“ began with hip hop music and was first not connected to any political position. But last year, when the „Maidan-Protests“ begun, he started to change the focus of his work and filled his paintings with political content.
Yegor was not only open to do an interview with us, he also offered to show us some street art spots and the location of Kiev’s first street art festival. Outside it was almost dark, so it was more authentic, when we crawled under the train tracks, looking for some street art. We felt like artists. It was interesting and somehow scary…only the four of us, cut off the city and other people, crawling under the train tracks and searching for some graffiti. But it was fun! (for almost all of us, Anna sensed rats everywhere ;))
Canal in Kiev
Unfortunately we didn’t find what he wanted to show us, but nevertheless we got a look inside the work of a street art-artist: sneaking around in the dark, looking for a good spot to use for a picture by crawling, climbing and hiding from the police. All this effort for expressing fellings and set an example for their dissatisfaction with the (political) system.
Remains of Kiev’s first Street Art Festival
Day 3 was not only funny and satisfying but also very productive. Thx Yegor for helping us!
As we had our interview with the artist on Wednesday, we decided to use the second day in Kiev for some sightseeing. Also we wanted to follow the hint of our hostel owner, who told us about a spot along the Dnieper River with lots of graffiti and street art.
St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery
After a delicious breakfast in a small cafe, we started our tour. Arriving at the Kiev Funicular, which connects the historic Uppertown and the lower commercial neighborhood of Podil, we took a ride up the Volodymyrska Hill. When we got to the top, we were very excited: a lot of small shops, an amazing view over the Dnieper River and a very beautiful blue church – the St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery. Already impressed by the outside image of the church, we wanted to take a look inside……breathtaking!
On our way down to the Dnieper River, we passed a memorial right next to the church as well as the Department of State. Remembering the advice of the hostel guy, we started to look for street art. We looked, and we searched, and we looked and…nothing more than some useless tags. Either we were’t at the right spot or there was nothing to find. So we searched a bit more and, finally we found one of our most remarkable pictures: the „Taras-Shevchenko-Picture“. All the trouble was rewarded. At this point of the trip, we didn’t understand the picture and to be honest, did not even have a clue of who this person was. But we did our research and found our answers.
Between the subwaystation „Arsenalnaya“ und „Kreschtschatik Boulevard“ is the famous Marynsky Palace, where we went to at the afternoon. The building was ordered to be constructed by the Russian Empress Elizaveta Petrovna and is today the official ceremonial residence of the President of the Ukraine. It is very beautiful, but in need of restauration, and it is located right next to the ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.
Exhausted from all the walking, searching and picture-taking, we decided the parliament to be our last stop and returned to the hostel, had dinner, prepared us for the interview on the next day and went to bed.
After we had arrived safely to Kiev, we commenced our stay there with a short trip around the city to check what we can expect. After passing the Golden Gate and the Opera we were suddenly standing right in front of the gates of the Euromaidan. Car tires and garbage bags were blocking the way, battered truck and tents were in middle of the road and the air was filled with a smell burnt wood. With a mixture of excitement, surprise and not knowing what to expect we started to examine protest posters placed on a wall and then we climbed the stairs to reach a small lookout point. There we found the first traces of street art and graffiti – Putin, shot in the head.
Entrance to the Maidan
Putin with a shot in the head
From above , we could see the entrance to the Maidan and observe it. On this sunny Sunday placed was filled with people, everybody was hustling and bustling and no one seemed to be bothered by the revolutionary surrounding.
Soviet monument on Lybids’ka square
After a short while we decided to continue the walk around in the opposite direction. In the afternoon, we came across the Lybids’ka square, where we found a huge Soviet monument covered with writing.
Satisfied with these initial results, we took the tube back towards the city center, where we were confronted with the reality of Maidan from the central perspective of the square. Barricades, tents, car tires, smoke and the burned out Trade Unions Building; suddenly we were surrounded by things we saw in television and the newspaper. With mixed feelings we decided to look at what was happening on the Maidan from a small hill behind the statue of Berehynia. In front of the impressing scenery the atmosphere seemed oddly relaxed: The place was very busy and families with children walked past barricades and tires. Suddenly, we heard loud singing: a gathering of people in front of a small stage was chanting the national anthem. Full of awe of this historic place and the people we left the Maidan in direction of our hostel.
„Russia, rise up!“ Maidan
Maidan: view from the hill
Euroamaidan – three months full of hope and protest, but also of fear and violence. When we decided at the beginning of 2014 to focus our research on the relationship between street art and protest in Ukraine, the protests, which were ongoing since November, were already abating. The demonstrations had erupted when the Ukrainian government – also following Russia’s pressure – announced not to sign the proposed Association Agreement with the EU. Many citizens who saw the chance for closer ties with the West and less dependence from Russia, found themselves deeply disappointed. Also displeasure with the system and the government of President Viktor Yanukovych became louder. The protests reached their peak in December. In the new year the protests on the Maidan had calmed down. This encouraged us to carry out our research trip: in the beginning of February we booked the flights for three of our group members.
But we wouldn’t expect what happened next: The situation on the Maidan escalated on February 18th. In case of severe clashes between police and opponents of the government, there were officially at least 28 dead and several hundred injured people. Two days later there were again several outbreaks of violence in which both sides deliberately shot at their opponents. On February 21st, Viktor Janukowtisch finally agreed to the contract, which provided for early parliamentary elections. But it never came so far – the same night the Ukrainian President fled, the Parliament declared him deposed the next day and a transitional government was set up.
During this time, we had great doubts if a trip to Kiev would be possible. But the weeks passed, and as we were constantly told, the tensions in Kiev were decreasing. So it came that on March 29th, three excited students were waiting at the Hamburg-Lübeck Airport for their flights. What did us expect? How would the situation be on site? And would our journey bring us the desired results?
Finally, we are happy to announce, that our project entered its last stage. In only few days we will present it to the public during a vernissage!!!!
The exhibition will take place on the 12 th of July at 7pm and will be hosted at Sprachenatelier Berlin. The event will include presentation of pictures we took during our field trip, short summary of our project and a talk about street art by Prof. Dr. Gerald Geilert. All that will be accompanied by some music and snack.
Also, if our project sounds like something you would like to support, you could do it in two ways: bring your friends along and support us on “betterplace.org“.
We are hoping to see you there!