Updated: Jun 5
2023 年 2 月 10 日 (published February 2023)
This week I am hosting a blog from Svitlana Borzenko, living in exile in Frankfurt, Germany
今週、昨年初めからフランクフルトに亡命してきた Svitlana にブログ スペースを譲ります。 オリジナルのウクライナ語から翻訳されています。
Svitlana Borzenko (see biography at the end) recently returned to her home town Lviv, giving us some impressions of life there and in Kherson. Note: written before the recent rockets attacks of 10/11 October.
All photos copyright Svitlana Borzenko
She writes: "....Rynok Square is the heart of Lviv. Its spirit, charm and atmosphere are unique. You come here again and again.
For more than five centuries, this square has been the centre of the cultural, social and commercial life of Lviv. The spirit of the Middle Ages hovers here, everything around impresses with elegance, originality and architectural luxury.
The architectural features of the square were laid out in the 14th century, reflecting the ancient cities of Europe. Medieval cobblestones pave the square, and the ancient sculptures give this place a special charm.
Statues of the Greek gods Diana, Neptune, Amphitrid and Adonis have been decorating the octagonal bowls of the fountains for three centuries, and have already become one of the symbols of the city centre.
They are the work of Lviv architect of Hartman Witwer (1774-1825). It is believed that these sculptures are the best creations of the artist.
Fountains are traditional meeting places. They live almost human lives. On holidays, they are dressed in embroidered dresses. In May 2020, they were protected with masks. And now, during the war, each of the four figures is carefully protected and wrapped in a white cloth with their image in different angles. "We will admire the original after the victory" – says the inscription on the canvases.
Today, dozens of monuments or their elements are covered by protective structures in the city. Some of them - for example, stained glass windows and sculptures - are dismantled and stored in storage.
The Boim chapel, which is nearby, is one of the best monuments of the late Renaissance of the city, and is quite unique not only in Ukraine but in European architecture.
It is famous for its special energy: a museum employee said that she once forgot a basket of apples in a corner of the chapel; more than a year and a half later, she unexpectedly came across it and found that the apples had not lost their juiciness and aroma during this time.
The altar part of the chapel contains the "Last Supper", an interesting figure of Judas, who has already received the silver coins for betraying Christ and therefore the devil is baring his green teeth from under his chair. It was because of this reproduction of the devil that the then archbishop did not want to consecrate the chapel.
Today the chapel is under protective scaffolding.
Next to the chapel, blues music can be heard, colourful autumn flowers bloom and there is smell of coffee in the covered area of the café, known in Lviv as a place for kissing.
The cafés in the market squares have a special poetry. Poetry of concepts, interiors and menus. Every Lviv resident has several favourite locations. Now many restaurateurs from the east of Ukraine are opening new creative spaces.
"I will wait
I will wait for you day and night"
Vyshyvanka (traditional Ukrainian clothing) is undergoing an incredible transformation today. Walking through the streets, I was fascinated by how the symbols of Ukrainian clothing have been integrated into the modern way of life.
This is not only the taste and creativity of Ukrainians, but also the desire to live life to the fullest even in dark times.
The art of Slavic embroidery has its roots in the pre-Christian period. This is evidenced by archaeological finds, including those from the Tryplian and Scythian cultures. It is known that the art of embroidery experienced its true flourishing during the times of Rus, creating and enshrining symbols and ornaments that are popular to this day.
The princes of Kyiv supported the traditions of embroidered clothing in every possible way.
Our ancestors had different embroidered shirts for every occasion.
My feet lead me to Virmenska Street - one of my favourite places in the city.
This is the oldest central street of the Armenian Quarter. It goes back to the Middle Ages, and is still one of the longest streets in the center of Lviv.
A unique architectural landmark is located on Armenian Street - the Armenian Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
According to various researchers, the temple was built in 1356-1370. The shrine was built on the site of a wooden Armenian temple based on the models of ancient Armenian churches. The cathedral was rebuilt several times, its architecture reflecting the styles of the Renaissance, Baroque, historicism and Art Deco.
Artists, musicians, poets have two favourite places on this street - the art space Café"Dzyga" and the café "Virmenka".
"Dzyga" always has the magnetic attraction of jazz improvisations, mini-performances, creative readings and, of course, iconic exhibitions.
That's why I'm here again today.
The gallery has a new exhibition:
What do you know about Kherson?
Kherson is an important economic centre of southern Ukraine, a sea trade and river port. In the Kherson region are the most delicious watermelons I have ever tasted.
Kherson watermelons became a symbol of the region, and began to turn into a geographical brand, like Italian parmesan or French cognac.
But this year, the Ukrainians did not have Kherson watermelons. Kherson is occupied.*
* Ed. This was written in September 2022. Ukrainian forces recaptured the city on 11. November 2022 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kherson
The Kherson creative community was divided into those who remained in the occupied city and those who managed to leave. Now Kherson artists are in Ireland, Switzerland, Lithuania, Great Britain, Poland, Georgia - in Ukrainian cities - Lviv, Kyiv, Ternopil, Mukachevo. However, also in Kherson. They, like all Ukrainians, believe that Kherson will be rid of Russian occupation. But what will it be? Will it turn into a cultural desert, or vice versa - will it be drawn home by a magnet? "Kherson from the inside/outside" is a new exhibition in "Dzyza". These are works created during the occupation and in emigration.
Emigration is not a privilege, it is a compulsion and an uncertainty. Occupation is not a sentence, it is a space of resistance and the need to preserve oneself and one's creative individuality. "Kherson from the inside/outside" is a dialogue that takes place, standing on the border between free Ukraine and occupied land, between a clear statement and a nervous breakdown, between art and attempts to destroy it.
"I could not even imagine that this could happen. War, occupation, the space is filled with panic and anxiety. My wife is giving birth to a child, through the window of the maternity hospital you can see shells flying. At this moment, all horrors are pushed to the background. A gentle life rises above atrocities. A thin stem breaks the asphalt. Life triumphs." Kostyantyn Tereshchenko
Graphics, collages, photos, paintings convey an incredible range of feelings - from simple everyday thoughts to deep philosophical considerations. "Chronicles of Vyshyvanka" - pain and fear are experienced day by day, cross by cross:
"White square" - drawings with markers on a white ceramic tile. Until the tiles run out:
Are there any doubts about our victory? I have none.
Six months of occupation - what is it, how is it? Read here:
From a resident of Kherson.
24th May 2022
«Three months of war. We are in Kherson and still under deep occupation. So far, no strategically important changes have taken place in Kherson Oblast. Everything is in a kind of frozen state, there are many unanswered questions. Everyone is discussing who is to blame, and few are talking about what to do next...
People began to adapt to such a life as their conscience allows. And now almost no one condemns anyone. Everyone is focused on how to survive and save their families and children.
Intimidation and psychological pressure have intensified, lack of money and unemployment have taken over, gradually we are left with most of the freedoms and rights that were guaranteed. The gap between occupied and controlled territory is widening. It is difficult for those who are in the controlled territory to understand what state we are in here. Some say that you are already lost, you have been dragged into the swamp of betrayal and adaptation, others ask: why didn't you leave, why did you stay, they were probably waiting for the "Russian mir and his relatives", others accuse us, civilians, of preventing the ZSU from doing its work, some write : but they were warned - sit down, don't leave, that's how they run every day under hails and mines, they draw attention to themselves, they've already got these Kherson people. The remnants of the legitimate authorities constantly emphasize that there are no corridors, the risk is high, it is deadly dangerous to drive. And such a flow of information constantly.
Voluntary assistance has become incredibly difficult and has decreased several times, because the number of people in need is increasing every day, and there are very few resources to help. There is practically no way out of the region, every day shelling, explosions, tragedies of human lives. I saw women and grandmothers begging for any kind of food in the markets because there was nothing to buy it for, I saw a large number of abandoned domestic animals with no one to feed them, I saw those who hugged and shook hands with the invaders... I constantly see the soldiers of the "second army of the world" in stretched pants, burnt-out dirty T-shirt and a cap adorned with a balaclava, body armour and with a machine gun on his shoulders. Drunk, dangerous. And so they came to our civilian city to bring "a beautiful and kind world". And now they are dictating how we should live and whether we can breathe.
I would characterize this month of life as complete fear. They completely own it, as in their own house. It is impossible to solve any vital issue, "their" appointees are everywhere, you don't know how any contact with them will turn out. They can come any minute.
This month is bloody, because the number of victims among the population from shelling, explosions, and violence has increased. Every day in the summaries of local chats losses: women, men, children. The search for the missing has turned into a global problem that has no solution.
They, like a cancerous tumour, spread their metastases everywhere and every day deeper and deeper. And the longer the occupation drags on, the harder and more difficult it will be to get rid of them.
Tired, but not defeated, because there is still hope for liberation, and not a repetition of the Donetsk scenario. We are, we are waiting every day! We endure this incredible strain only because we believe. We believe in you more than you believe in us, our state!
Kherson is Ukraine!
Kherson region is Ukraine!»..........."
Note: Ed. written before the rocket attacks of 10/11 October.
Svitlana Borzenko is an artist and journalist from Lviv, Ukraine. She graduated from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Passionate about traveling and new cultures, she writes about her experiences and impressions. One of the most profound experiences for her was the Camino de Santiago walk in Spain. At the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, she moved to Frankfurt am Main, Germany, where she now lives. Each time she returns to her home town, Lviv, she writes about her impressions of daily life there.
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