I know a lot of artists want to keep being artists in times of danger. One is always amazed by artists who continue to produce art in trying or dangerous circumstances. Prisoners who write, for example. Musicians who perform in the ruins of war or natural disaster. It feels good. Life-affirming. You could, for example, dance ballet in the middle of a war, but what is the point? That is indirectly the subject of a bried but poignant article in The Economist magazine, “A Ukrainian ballerina goes to war” written by David Patrikarakos. The ballerina is Olesia Vorotnyk. In addition to being a dancer with the National Opera of Ukraine, she is a war widow. Her husband was killed in Russia’s earlier invasion of Ukraine, in 2014. A patriot, she signed up to the Territorial Defence Forces to fight against the Russian invaders.
People around the world have struggled about whether or not to indulge in Russian art and culture during this war. For example, I am listening to Aram Khachaturian’s Sparticus Suite right now. But Vorotnyk has a strong point of view about this.
For Ms Vorotnyk and others in Ukraine, the situation is straightforward. “Foreigners don’t fully understand our position because ballet is always associated with Russia,” she says. “But people in occupied Mariupol refused to take food and humanitarian aid from Russians—they chose to starve. It’s not fair for the ballet to perform [Russian works] while they suffer.”
I wonder if I should avoid listening to Khachaturian for my own pleasure while Russia murders hundred of Ukranians every day. And furthermore, what is the point of producing art in such circumstances? Obviously there are some practical reasons—propaganda, for example. Or to demonstrate that humanity has not been extinguished yet. For example, when composer Olivier Messiaen was captured by the Nazis in the early days of World War II and sent to Stalag VIII-A, he composed the Quatuor pour la fin du temps, a large piece written for the only instruments that he had access to in the camp—clarinet, violin, cello and piano. It was first performed in the camp, with prisoners and some German guards listening. In such a circumstance, art becomes a statement: despite you, we are still here.
But to a certain extent, it feels self-indulgent to produce art. Better to grab a rifle and join the fight against fascism. Better to die for freedom than produce artwork.
This is a subject on which I am conflicted, obviously.
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We dont throw away our talent because it is our culture that needs preserving .
As long as pysanky ( in this case native Ukrainian art, but in any case ART , any and all) are made the monster is proportionately bound
Loose our culture and we are gone .
There aren't many artists who are better off as warriors. There are exceptions, always .
But what is worth fighting for if it no longer exists?
Should everyone feel survival guilt ?( the active case of surviving) do we dumb down attempts to be positive during war time .
We have to stalk joy.
It can still have teeth though ....