A mural of a hugging Ukrainian and Russian soldier and variants of that theme are being criticized all over the world. “This is deeply insulting to all Ukrainians. The mural creates a sense of false equality between the victim and the aggressor.
It was an Australian sociologist from the University of Sydney who rang the bell on social media. Olga Boichak – herself Ukrainian by descent – specializes in digital cultures and noticed the mural of the soldiers in the city of Melbourne. “Russia’s war in Ukraine is not a conflict between two nations, it is an invasion,” she added.
She insists that a false equivalence between victim and aggressor is “dangerous”. “It implies that peace can be achieved if both sides agree to lay down their arms. By now we all have a clear idea of what would happen if Ukraine stopped fighting. This ‘art’ takes away the legitimacy of experiencing resistance.”
Similar themes are popping up all over the world, including in Russia. “The latter is not surprising,” said Boichak. “If you’re an artist interested in contributing to the idea of peace, reading about Ukraine’s postcolonial history is a great place to start.”
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According to Boichak, there can only be peace in Ukraine if the occupied territories and their populations are liberated. “Until then, images of peace will only be created by networks of resistance to occupation.”
The woman’s tweet received widespread acclaim and was liked and shared tens of thousands of times. Not everyone agreed with her. One wonders, for example, “if it is not simply possible for the artist to depict an alternative and preferred reality in which soldiers take care of each other instead of killing each other, without implying some form of equality”.
Others think that the Melbourne mural should stay anyway, regardless of everyone’s opinion about it. “Because as you can see here, it raises discussion, especially among people who didn’t know much about the relationship between Ukraine and Russia before.”
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