Artworks Depicting Dark Parts of Russian History Will Now Support the Future of Ukraine
More than 30 artworks from the “Sandarmokh – where trees have faces” exhibition, which recalls a dark chapter of Russian history, will be on sale in the UAuction online charity event. Photo credit: Gulag.cz.
Brno, Mar 3 (BD) – Exactly one year after the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, the UAuction online charity event is starting to help Ukraine. It will offer more than 30 artworks from the “Sandarmokh – where trees have faces” exhibition, which recalls a dark chapter of Russian history.
“Dear friends. On this memorable day and in these difficult times I would like to say hello to you… from those places where I am. I greatly appreciate the demanding work that you do to maintain memory. However, I think we did not completely make it. At least those who were involved in the preservation of memory in the Soviet Union and Russia. Maybe that’s why there are such difficult times now. Complicated and tragic. I think we must not resign ourselves, but we must continue to deal with what we have dealt with, and talk about what happened and what is happening now. There is a direct connection between the past and the present. Good luck to you all!”
The above message was sent by Yuri Dmitrijev, the discoverer of the Sandarmokh scaffold from the times of Stalin’s terror, to mark the opening of the “Sandarmokh – where trees have faces” exhibition. While the Russian historian and member of the persecuted Memorial Group is still being held in a prison colony based on a fabricated trial, Russian troops in Ukraine are commiting crimes similar to those which Yuri Dmitrijev and his colleagues revealed in Sandarmokh.
To not repeat history
The task for all of us now is to learn from the past and strive to stop the crimes of the invading army as quickly as possible, so that everything that happened in Ukraine during the last year will not be remembered in the same way as the execution site hidden in the depths of Russia’s Karelia region.
The exhibition, curated by Gulag.cz together with the Memorial organisation, was created not only to remind everyone of an important piece in the puzzle of Russian history, but also to help those exposed to the threat of today’s Russia. Artists from all over the world, including Russia, have contributed. Moreover, many of them not only agreed to honour the more than 6,000 executed people with their work, but also allowed their creations to be used in the charity UAuction, whose proceeds will be used to help Ukraine.
The two-week online auction began on the sad anniversary of one year since the full-scale invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine. The money raised by selling the artworks will help people who have not been able to enjoy paintings or statues in peace for a year – Ukrainians who are long term missing things as basic as drinking water or energy for lighting and heating food.
Art in exchange for drinking water
In the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, good drinking water has been scarce for months. After the Russian missiles destroyed the water network, local tap water is not even suitable to wash hands, let alone cook. In the worst cases, some of the water pipes remain completely dry. Although there are tanks with drinking water in the city, visiting them means exposing yourself to the risk of another shelling, which could come at any time.
Yet there are people in the city who pick up drinking water and deliver it to those who cannot procure it themselves: old, sick, and injured people. Where there is not even enough drinking water in tanks, volunteers disinfect and clean the polluted water. These are the people that Gulag.cz and NESEHNUTÍ, the organisers of UAuction, want to help by buying filters and disinfectants for water purification for the most vulnerable.
The constant Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure also complicate the work of organisations that take care of the survivors of sexual violence conducted by Russian soldiers – men, women, and children whose bodies and souls have been scarred by Russian invasion. The financial support raised by the auction of artworks will bring light and warmth to human lives that the Russian invasion has enveloped in the darkness. Some of the money will also head towards the Czech community in Zhytomyr, as a financial patch for the holes that Russian missiles made in their houses.
Despite the propaganda
Part of the financial support for Ukraine from UAuction will have its roots in Russia. Many Russian artists wanted to express their frustration with the current situation and the version of reality presented by Russian state propaganda. Some of them have already been forced to leave their homes because of their opinions or activities, while others remain in Russia despite the difficult conditions and the threat of punishment. Because of that, the organisers of UAuction want to thank them by supporting them with some of the money collected during the UAuction.
They echo Dmitrijev’s words: “I think we must not resign ourselves, but we must continue to deal with what we have dealt with, and talk about what happened and what is happening now. There is a direct connection between the past and the present.”
“We want to thank everyone who has not resigned and continues to perceive what is happening in Ukraine, speak of it, or support Ukraine themselves. A direct connection exists also between the presence and the future – and our help will be mirrored not only in the future of Ukraine but probably the whole world,” say the organisers.
UAuction is organised by Gulag.cz and NESEHNUTÍ. The event began on 24 February and will last until 10 March. Within these two weeks, it will be possible to buy over 30 artworks from the Sandarmokh exhibition. The collected money will be used to ensure basic needs, such as drinking water.