The National Art Museum of Ukraine hosted a public discussion “Cultural Reception of Crimea: Decolonial Aspect”, organized jointly by the Mission, NAMU and NGO CrimeaSOS. The discussion will be broadcast on our social media pages tomorrow at 12:00.
At the opening of the event, dedicated to the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Crimean Tatar Genocide, the Permanent Representative Tamila Tasheva delivered a welcoming speech. She told how shortly after the establishment of CrimeaSOS, they were approached by the artist Rustem Skybin, who wanted to leave the occupied Crimea with his collection of artworks.
“His first words back then were that among Russia’s first actions would be the appropriation and looting of Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar culture, the appropriation of our history. Russia had already done the same thing after the annexation of Crimea in 1783. Both the USSR and the Russian Federation tried to ignore the Crimean Tatars, and this was clearly reflected in the art of the Soviet period. We see paintings with beautiful landscapes, but there are no people, no indigenous people in them,” the Permanent Representative noted.
The discussion was attended by:
- Olesia Ostrovska-Liuta, Director General of Mystetskyi Arsenal
- Martin-Oleksandr Kyslyy, historian, researcher, PhD, lecturer at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, participant of the project “Initiative for Crimean Tatars”
- Oleksiy Mustafin, journalist, television manager, politician
- Mavile Khalil, journalist, psychologist, program director of the Crimean Tatars website
- Oksana Barshynova, Deputy Director General of NAMU
The moderators were Maria Tomak, Head of the Crimean Platform’s Support Service, and Rustem Khalilov, journalist, author, and co-host of the Watermelon and Tobacco podcast on Ukrayinska Pravda. Participants also had the opportunity to watch a video message from Crimean artist Maria Kulikovska, who has created a number of projects dedicated to Crimea after the occupation began.
For a visual demonstration, the Museum organized an exhibition of paintings from its own collections depicting Crimea, from 19th-century engravings to Soviet-era works. Speakers noted that the paintings of the second half of the 20th century vividly depict the desolation of the peninsula, from which its indigenous population was deported.
“What we see in these landscape paintings is a generalization. A method of Soviet cultural policy applied in many places. We see the same thing in the paintings of the Carpathians, but in Crimea it is most critical: the depiction of Ukraine only as a land with beautiful landscapes, not as a territory of cultural diversity,” said Olesia Ostrovska-Liuta.
Martin-Olexander Kyslyy noted that the initial stage of the colonial history of Crimea is well known from engravings by German artists: “It is ironic that this period of depicting Crimea turned out to be the most empathetic in the field of depicting Crimean Tatars.”
“Colonization is always about simplifying a culture. That is why the Crimean Tatars do not want everyone to associate them and the Crimean peninsula only with chebureks and beaches. The culture of this indigenous people is rich, vibrant and unique, but Russia has managed to erase it and simplify it to an association with chebureks,” added Mavile Khalil in response to a comment from the audience.
The Mission expresses its gratitude to CrimeaSOS and the National Art Museum for organizing the discussion on the decolonial aspect of Crimea through the prism of art. Culture is crucial for learning about our past and envisioning our future, the vision of a free Ukrainian Crimea.