EuropeStoryLooking for – Viola Andrushchuk

Militarization, propaganda of war, increase of military costs... This is the reality of recent Russia. But this way is acceptable not for all Russian citizens. This project has united participants of different social initiatives together, for whom anti-war appeal is a basis for their work. 

Militarization, propaganda of war, increase of military costs… This is the reality of recent Russia. But this way is acceptable not for all Russian citizens. This project has united participants of different social initiatives together, for whom anti-war appeal is a basis for their work. 

Activists are also representatives of various social groups, they use different practices for their representation, but all of them argue in favor of necessity of public dialog. 

In the project are involved as relatively small groups of like-minded fellows, which were created as an answer on the situation in the Ukraine in 2015 (antiwar iniciative «Lights Of Eirene», «Orthodox of St. Petersburg for peace with Ukraine»), as participants from international organizations, centered on anti-war appeal («Rythms of resistance»). Activists use various means of communication with the social realm in order to make their messages visible – actions, performance art, exhibitions, readings and meditative praxes. Each of the message is created for search of new like-minded fellows, co-operation of people and creation of opposed towards war and aggression position.

About Viola Andrushchuk

Viola Andrushchuk was born in 1988, in Navoi city (Uzbekistan). In 1994 the family moved to Voronezh city, Russia. Here she graduated a Secondary School, the Voronezh Institute of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russian Federation with a specialty “radiotrician” and for 3 years studied at the Faculty of History of Voronezh State University. In 2014 moved to Saint Petersburg, Russia, where studied for 2 years at “DokDokDok” Photojournalism and Documentary Photography School and completed courses “Documentary photography and photojournalism” and “Post-documentary photography and other media”. Have been published in Russian and foreign publications, hold a personal exhibition in St. Petersburg (Russia) and participated in group exhibitions in Brighton (UK), Berlin (Germany), Minsk and Brest (Belarus).

I wouldn’t call myself a photographer in the literal sense, rather a visual artist. I think that some stories are easier to tell about in the visual language of photography and it will be more understandable for viewers that way. I’m interested in different topics such as ecology, human rights, anti-war agenda, feminism, gender and corporality. Currently working on few photo projects. [Official Website]

Viktoriya Komarova, 24 years
Organizer of the initiative «Days of movement to peace» in St. Petersburg.
I think, that in current for Russia and countries of former USSR social-political situation, it is necessary to remind people about impermissibility of war, about its dangerous outcomes. It is necessary to talk about ambition for peace, underline, that life of any human is much more valuable than any political interests.
I want more people to realize what is happening now and then even for a bit, but changed their views and their lives. And refused the war, the aggression, the violence. This may not be the result of one week, it will take years. But I hope that by making «Days of movement to peace» we will initiate it.

Props for performance «The Motherland will give more birth!» by group «Rodina».
«It will give more birth» is a bio political performance made by a group of artists «Rodina» («Motherland»).
The group reflected on the value of a human life in modern Russia. Is sorrow possible in a place where life and death are not admitted? The artists ground tomatoes saying «The Motherland will give more birth!». The tomatoes were painted white. This was a metaphor of a human body which is white outside while there is blood inside it. This was the metaphor of life and death.
Before the beginning of the performance spectators were asked to write a few words about themselves: their name, age, hometown, occupation, hobbies etc.
Two artists read a text, which contained fragments of brief biographies of various people. At first there were stories describing people who had been caught in a «State slaughter» and who became expendables.
Then artists read biographies of ordinary people from different social groups and with different political preferences, their social networks status, favorite quotes – randomly selected from spectators response, they wrote at the beginning of the performance.
After reading each story the artists took a tomato and ground it (one tomato refers to one person) saying «The Motherland will give more birth».

Darina Zabludovskaya, 21 years
Activist of The Movement of conscientious objectors to military service.
Movement of conscientious objectors (CO) – is a community of people pushing the idea of escapism from all forms of military service: from alternative military service to the impossibility of service due to the health grounds.
Among our volunteers are former recruits avoided military service with our help, but they are not the only ones as there are many people with pacifistic and antimilitaristic mind who find the conscription a social disaster which is impossible to make peace with.
Usually to our consults come people motivated by the thought «how to dodge the draft free», but we try to help the people understand the reason of their refusal and make a conscious decision. Some of them start noticing the irrationality and absurdness of the governmental system in whole.
I help the CO because I’m no stranger to the militaristic structures and I know how hard is it for those who are not accustomed to the survival there. I reckon that military service should be a free choice for everyone, not a duty.

Badge with the symbol of initiative «Orthodox of St. Petersburg for peace with Ukraine». Made by participant of the initiative.
Orthodox of St. Petersburg for peace with Ukraine are group of like-minded, that appeared in early 2015, as a reaction to the events in Ukraine. From the description of the group on the site: «Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, citizens of Ukraine! We, Orthodox Christians of St. Petersburg, the parishioners of various churches, are writing to you with words of peace and brotherly love. We can not speak on behalf of the whole Russian Orthodox Church. We are talking only on behalf of part of the Orthodox Christians of the city on the Neva. We are against this shameful and disgraceful war <…> The Word of God, the word of peace, certainly will defeat the spirit of war.»

Masha Luk’yanova, 29 years
Member of the sewing cooperative SHVEMY.
Shvemy are dressmaking and tailoring establishment as well as art-project, but first of all it is a group of equal ones. Such principles as joy from the process of work, self-enlightenment, co-operation and solidarity, realization of value of any labor, creative work, ambition for decrease of the amount of consumption and protection of environment lay in the basis of the work of the project. We can not stay indifferent towards the problems in the society, that’s why we use our professional skills in needling for creation of banners, braids, participation in various actions, express our position.

Exhibit «War is the suicide» of the antiwar exhibition {NE MIR} ({NOT PEACE}).
{NOT PEACE} is a series of art-interventions in public places, within which artists talk about the nature of different conflicts – social, artistic and political. One of the main goal of the group as an activist platform is opening up new fields and grounds, networking between artists and activists from different regions and countries.

Marla May, 23 years
Participant of the antiwar initiative «Lights Of Eirene».
Peace-building for me is a way, which is formed from day-to-day tiny steps from each humans, over time this way will be a broad and reliable track, which will lead towards peace, creativity, non-violence and mutual respect. And for me it is primarily about the peace within yourself, because without inner peace, outer peace is impossible.

Props used by initiative «Lights of Eirene» for creating antiwar cover version on the photo of 1969 year.
Lights of Eirene, a termless action for peace in Ukraine named after the Greek goddess of peace, started in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other countries on January, 1st., 2015. Every day participants of the action light candles and send thoughts to where peace is most needed. As activists claim «Lights» will be light up every night until the war is over.

Nastya Pervomaiskaya, 23 years
Member of the «Food not bombs» initiative.
I have been participating in this enterprise in St.-P. since 2015. I was carried away by the fact that people in different cities do the same thing: they give out free portions of food to the homeless, pauper and anybody who wants to. At any season at the same place and time there reigns the odor of buckwheat with vegetables, black tea with sugar, froufrou of disposable cutlery.
«Food not bombs» – a local organization or nonprofit group – as it comes. We buy all needful on our own.
Different people, generally elderly, come to our actions which are held each Sunday.
We are not the only ones who does that, but our peculiarity is that we are not supported financially by any organization. When we are run out of money, we organize fundraising concerts, get into touch with Food Sharing or shops and restaurants, which can donate food.
The enterprise appeared in 1980-s in Massachusetts, where activists protested against building the APS, writing slogans «Money for food, not for bombs» on the walls of the buildings. Later the slogan was shortened to «Food not bombs».
People all over the world protested against the wars, which were sponsored by the government making ordinary people starving. The actions were held in many countries and nowadays is a sign of a protest and solidarity between activists and the downtrodden.

The drum of members of international network «Rhythms of resistance» in St. Petersburg.
International network of groups «Rhythms of resistance» is a horizontal network of initiatives, which express their protest by music. Principles of all participants of «Rhythms of resistance» are equal regardless country of origin. Anti-militarism is among these principles. For our group in Saint-Petersburg the separation of anti-militarism and pacifism are important.

Emma, 30 years
Participant of Saint-Petersburg initiative of international network «Rhythms of resistance»
The anti-militaristic agenda of initiatives in which I participate is important for me. I am convinced that the anti-militarism in the 21st century – it is one of the most important principles and the result of reflection or simply the historical experience of critics of imperialism, colonialism and racism. In my opinion, the reflection on this subject at the society level in Russia is insufficient, almost no one set anti-colonial agenda, this applies to anarchist, anti-fascist initiatives and feminist, and queer. For me it is very important to divide concepts of pacifism and anti-militarism. I’m not a pacifist, pacifism devoid of self-reflection, there is no anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism and anti-racism.

Accessories for needlework and a work fragment of one of the member of the sewing cooperative SHVEMY.
«Shvemy» – from the word «seamstress», but the last letter «I» replaced by the amicable «we». (In Russian, word «seamstress» (швея) ends with the letter «я» that means «I». In the name of the initiative this last «I» (я) replaced by «мы» that means «we»).

Dar’ya Apahonchich, 31 years
Painter. Art group {Rodina} (Motherland), participant of the antiwar exhibition «NE MIR» ({NOT PEACE}).
Mainstay of «Rodina»’s activity is a performance social art, field studies and experimental investigations of patriotism, a problem of regime’s institutions and language. One of the topics the artistic group is often referring to is the topic of war as a war is a situation of a strict control and submission.
Suprematistic kokoshniks are made by Max Evstropov, the Rodina’s member. There’re 3 kokoshniks: a red circle, a blue square and a yellow triangle. Kazimir Malevich also had 3 main figures, but used a cross instead of the triangle. In that case we can consider the triangle as an euphemism to the cross, but it’s also clear that triangular shape refers to the traditional russian kokoshnik’s form. The kokoshniks are a counterintuitive artifact: from the one hand, it’s a form of abandonment the nation for the art (wearing it is sending the message «My nation is suprematism»), from the other hand, the traditional culture constituent is immense and s impossible to ignore. This paradox is of utmost importance for me as I consider it common to the different types of art: simultaneous multidirectional movement to the overcoming my identity while saving it.

Svetlana Stavniychuk, 33 years.
The ideological inspirer of the initiative «Orthodox of St. Petersburg for peace with Ukraine».
We are not a political movement, but moral. Christians very acutely feel their responsibility for everything that happens around. The church should point to the diseases of the society, however, should not make it from the positions of strength.

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