The Culture Fights Back project shares stories of cultural figures in the Armed Forces of Ukraine

The Ukrainian Institute, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ukraïner, has launched the Culture Fights Back project, sharing the stories of artists and civil society representatives who have joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

After the full-scale invasion began on February 24, 2022, the entirety of Ukrainian society, united together, standing up in defence of Ukraine. Not only the professional military, but also cultural figures – those who once performed concerts, readings and premieres had to put their professional life on hold, taking arms into their hands. This huge challenge for the cultural sector has not stopped them, and in the trenches, they continue to write poetry, think over movie scripts, and share the atrocities of the Russian army with the world. It’s a demonstration of Ukrainian society’s integrity, where everyone understands the need to fight for their survival.

“When we were designing the Culture Fights Back project, we wanted to show the world that the struggle for freedom and statehood unites people of completely different professions. It is a manifestation of the integrity of Ukrainian society, where everyone understands the need to fight. We also want to draw the attention of the international community to the losses Ukrainian culture faces,” stressed First Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Emine Dzhaparova.

The Culture Fights Back project collects stories of Ukrainian heroes from the film, music, literature, civil society, performance and visual art sectors. Each story is illustrated with  photographs: one from civilian life and the other from military service, often taken by comrades-in-arms. You can also view their works, further learning about their personalities and art.

“At a time when they are trying to destroy our culture, it is essential to speak about it as loud as possible. We want to show the international audience the bravery and beauty of our people, our artists. We want to remind the world who is behind this battle — singers you might have heard before, writers you might have fallen in love with, or actors you might have admired,” says Ksenia Kalyna, Head of Communications at the Ukrainian Institute.

The stories of 30 artists are now available, but information about other heroes will be added over time. Unfortunately, there are fallen heroes among the artists, such as the ballet dancers Oleksandr Shapoval and Vadym Khlupianets, film director Viktor Onysko, opera singer Vasyl Slipak, and civic activist Roman Ratushnyi. We need to be aware of the scale of loss that Ukraine’s culture faces.

The Ukrainian Institute team also plans to organize photo exhibitions abroad, drawing attention to the war’s impact on Ukrainian culture.  

This project’s design was developed by Projector Institute student, Iryna Pugach.