Thursday, September 3, 2015

Revolution of Dignity Art Exhibit at School of Law

From August - November 2015, Professor Christopher Kelley has arranged for the School of Law to host the Revolution of Dignity Art Exhibit featuring images from Ukraine's' Maidan 2013-2014. The art created during and after the Revolution of Dignity captures the extraordinary hope, spirit, and promise of great change. For those who were on the Maidan, it stirs recalled emotions that are at once joyous and sad. Brave men and women—some young; some old—died defending the Maidan and what it represented—the beginning of an era when Ukrainians could enjoy the dignity of a people committed to the rule of law.

Ukraine is the largest country located entirely within Europe with a long regionally, culturally, and politically diverse history. It gained its current independence in 1991 when the Soviet Union imploded. Since then, Ukrainians have struggled to gain what seven decades of Soviet rule denied it—the rule of law, which is now guaranteed by Ukraine’s constitution. This struggle has been marked by a series of mass protests, two of which drew prolonged worldwide attention—the Orange Revolution in 2004 and the Revolution of Dignity in 2013-2014. Both “revolutions” reflected Ukrainians’ desire to overcome political and other corruption.

The Revolution of Dignity began on November 21, 2014, as news spread that then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych had suspended preparations to sign the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement. This Agreement would have advanced Ukrainian-EU integration and, within Ukraine, European values, including the rule of law. A wave of demonstrations and civil unrest followed, largely centered on Kyiv’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square). On November 30, 2013, riot police known as the "Berkut" attacked and injured scores of protesters near the Maidan. This enraged Ukrainians, solidified the Revolution of Dignity, and led to almost three months of massive demonstrations on the Maidan and elsewhere. Before the Revolution ended on February 23, 2014, more than one hundred people had died in the struggle against the government’s repression and corruption. Every Ukrainian was affected by the Revolution of Dignity, though some were threatened by values it embodied, values distinctly different from those encased in Ukraine’s Soviet legacy.

The Maidan witnessed a great explosion of all forms and genres of art, but posters were the most effective and popular. From original satirical works to manipulated images from internet memes, the posters quickly reacted to and documented major developments during the months leading up to the Maidan and while events there escalated until the reign of sniper fire ended.

Curated by Natalia Moussienko and Andriy Sydorenko from the Modern Art Research Institute in Kyiv, the Exhibit was first displayed in Kyiv in September 2014 and is now traveling around the world. The University of Arkansas School of Law is honored to host the Exhibit and is grateful for those who helped bring it to the Law School. Special thanks goes to the Ukraine Fulbright Program, the Kennan Institute, the Modern Art Research Institute, and the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Pictured from left are LL.M. Candidates
 Mark Opanasiuk and Valeriya Zayets
with Michael Ramirez, and Kim Tomlinson
from the University of Arkansas Art Department
Of special note, this fall the LL.M. Program will be joined by two Ukrainian Candidates, Mark Opanasiuk and Valeriya Zayats. Mark and Valeriya together with the University of Arkansas Art Department installed the Revolution of Dignity. We are especially grateful to Mark and to Valeriya for their part in bringing this exhibit to life.

For more information on the exhibit, please join us on Facebook.

No comments: