A roof over your head and a space for art – German art institutions like ZKM in Karlsruhe are awarded to Ukrainian artists. Scholarship holders have shattered their dreams. The courage of despair.
When the war broke out, Tatiana Kochobinska was in the middle of preparing for a major exhibition project. In June, she wanted to work as a curator in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro, where she implemented Dejan Kalodjirovich’s international art project “Conversations” for Ukraine. Children from different places should talk about their fears and desires. The vocal installations of children’s voices were meant to show the ways of peaceful coexistence despite all the differences. “I had big plans,” says the 36-year-old from Kyiv. Their dreams were shattered on February 24 with the Russian attack on Ukraine. Just like the 29-year-old artist Alina Bukina.
The two women stand somewhat lost in front of the Karlsruhe Center for Arts and Media Technology (ZKM). The Foundation accepted her as an associate. Just like three other artists from Ukraine and a media artist who fled Russia. They receive 1,000 euros per month for six months, accommodation and room to work. “This is a great opportunity,” says artist Alina Bukina, who has made a name for herself with a delicate one-line series, a face, and a sketch. She left all her work behind. In a safe place, meditate. She wants to use her stay abroad to introduce Ukrainian art and artists. “I help my country too.”
In addition to ZKM, Kunstverein Stuttgart also offers assistance
ZKM has been supporting politically threatened artists for a long time and working side by side with “artists at risk”. The network organizes the stay of guests in cultural institutions. Internationally, more than 300 institutions have provided assistance, and there are currently 35 institutions in Germany, including ZKM and Haus der Kunst in Munich and technical associations in Stuttgart and Munich. It is expected that another 50 institutions will be established through cooperation with the Goethe-Institut. More than 600 artists from Ukraine and 240 opposition artists from Russia and Belarus have requested assistance from artists at risk since the outbreak of the war.
About 20 guest stays have been implemented across the country through the network. But the number of Ukrainian guest artists is likely to be much higher. A lot happens through private communications, collaborations, or other software. For example, the house of the world artist Villa Concordia in Bamberg helps twelve Ukrainian artists with 1,500 euros for five months. More than 70 theaters and cultural institutions in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein also provide assistance, including Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Berliner Ensemble, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus and Thalia Theater Hamburg.
Theaters and ballet companies also provide assistance
The Hamburg Ballet John Neumier accepted ten Ukrainian children aged 6 to 15 until Easter. Twelve additional children are being considered. “Be sure we will do everything we can to help these people,” says Ballet President Neumeyer. Sixteen children from Ukraine found shelter at the Kranko school in Stuttgart. Dancers from Russia and Ukraine are attracted to Staatsballett Berlin. Director Christian Theobald counted 200 inquiries before Easter. “Dancers need opportunities to train,” she says. It must be possible.
The Sprengel Museum in Hanover offers Ukrainian and Russian artists a platform with an Instagram takeover under the hashtag #takeover. The Federal Acting Association (BFFS) assists others in their job search via “new-start.media”. State Minister Claudia Roth (the Greens) provided one million euros in emergency aid to media professionals who fled Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Possibilities to increase scholarship programs for media professionals and support new projects are currently being studied, according to the company.
Torn between the horror at home and German normality
Peter Whipple, director of ZKM, born in Odessa in 1944 whose biography was shaped by the war and its aftermath, believes that “War and politics are too important to be left to military and professional politicians. Art tries to heal the wounds caused by politics and the military.” ZKM is in contact with other artists , says Senior Coordinator Philip Ziegler.
Alina Bukina considers herself lucky to be able to work at ZKM. She doesn’t know what will happen to the work she left behind. She is afraid of being destroyed. But she fears more for the people of Ukraine, her boyfriend, and her family. It’s hard to reconcile the horror there with the normal here. “I feel guilty that I was not in Ukraine,” said the 29-year-old from Zaporizhia. “I can’t describe the pain.” Your drawings will tell us about it.
Tatiana Kochubinska is also torn between gratitude for being able to live without fear and being welcomed in a friendly way and the idea of a home. The former coordinator of the Kyiv Art Center PinchukArtCentre has always wanted to work at ZKM. “But not under these sad circumstances.” She feels helpless and blames herself: There has been a war in the Donbass in eastern Ukraine since 2014. But it only became visible when the current war reached the borders of the European Union. “We should have been louder,” she says.