One year of war in Ukraine: Art can provide documentation

February 23 2023

24 February 2023 marks one year since Russia attacked Ukraine. The war has left its mark on Fritt Ord’s support for art and journalism in the past year. Fritt Ord has also provided funding for commemorations of the one-year anniversary.

The war in Ukraine has cast long shadows. That is evident from the photographs, drawings and other art works featured in the exhibition ’Ukraine’s fight for freedom’, being shown at Gallery Albin Upp in Oslo in February 2023.
The works include portraits of murdered Ukrainian civilians made by caricature artist Victor Melamed and photographs by Oleksandr Klymenko, who visited the exhibition on 18 February, as well as by Evgeniy Maloletka, one of the winners of the Free Media Awards 2022.
“On the first anniversary of the war, we will organise a talk about Ukraine’s situation over the past 10 years, before moving on to the big commemoration on the square at Eidsvolls plass on Friday afternoon”, says Dag Andreas Fedøy, director of communications for the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is co-sponsoring the exhibition, along with Media Initiative for Human Rights (MIHR), Norwegian Peoples Aid, the Wergeland Centre, FRI – Association for gender and sexual diversity, Oslo Pride, the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS), the Norwegian Network for Research on Ukraine, and the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR)/Oslo Metropolitan University.

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Victor Melamed's drawing of Mantas Kvedaravičius, a Lithuanian documentary film maker who was shot and killed in Mariupol in March 2022, while he was making a sequel to his film 'Mariupolis' from 2016.

The war has left its mark on the past year
For years, Fritt Ord has supported journalistic and freedom of expression projects associated with Ukraine, Russia and other countries in the region. In 2022, the Fritt Ord Prize was awarded to the Russian exile newspaper Meduza, then, together with the ZEIT-Stiftung, the Free Media Awards for 2022 were awarded to five Ukrainian journalists and photographers. In December, Fritt Ord brought together culture workers and journalists from Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Estonia in Oslo to discuss Ukraine’s cultural resistance, as well as topics like exile, decolonisation and cooperation across the dividing lines of war.
In 2022, Fritt Ord supported the newspaper Barents Observer’s hiring of two Russian exile-journalists, and in 2023, it supported new steps to circumvent Russia’s state censorship.

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The Ukrainian play 'Imperium delendum est' by the Lesya Ukrainka Theater in Lviv will be performed in Oslo and possibly also in Stavanger this autumn. Photo: Lesya Ukrainka Theater

Theatre about the war this autumn
Fritt Ord will be supporting several projects for the same reasons this year. For example, today marks the opening of the Barents Spectacle Festival in Kirkenes, and yesterday was the opening of an exhibition of photos from the war in Ukraine, both with support from Fritt Ord. This coming autumn, the Lesya Ukrainka Theater of Lviv will be performing ‘Imperium delendum est’ (‘The Empire Must Fall’), on the National Theatre stage in Oslo.
The play was written in March 2022, immediately after the invasion. It is about how art can help process the impressions from war, explains Daiva Petkevičiūtė of the Human Rights House Foundation.
The play is being staged thanks to cooperation between the Human Rights House Foundation, the Nobel Peace Centre and the Ukrainian Association. The director is Dmytro Zakhozhenko.
“This is a theatre with a long history, which is run by enthusiastic young people who see themselves as both artists and activists. They originally wrote the play as an outlet for themselves and out of national interest, but it has become a message they want to share with the world, including Norway”, Petkevičiūtė points out.
The play may also be put on in Stavanger.

The Kyiv Soloists have been touring Europe with a Ukrainian repertoire to collect money for the victims of the war, soliciting support for Ukraine. From an event at Fritt Ord, 5 December 2022


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