Ukrainian Women Artists Join South African Activists in Calling for Mutual Understanding of War's Impact

Ukrainian Women Artists Join South African Activists in Calling for Mutual Understanding of War's Impact

Landmark Women's Month exhibition launches on 11 August with Ukraine-South African dialogue event.

The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation and Ukrainian Association of South Africa are bringing a specially curated exhibition, "The Womanly Face of War", to cities across South Africa, as part of a landmark collaboration by Ukrainian artists and South Africa civil society to improve public understanding of the impact of the war in Ukraine, particularly on women and children.

Curated by leading members of Ukrainian women-led artist collective 'Sunseed Art', and timed to coincide with Women's Month across South Africa, "The Womanly Face of War" is based on four female artists' personal perspectives of how the Russian invasion of Ukraine has impacted on women and girls, including the horrors of sexual and gender-based violence and how mothers have been forced into perilous roles as fighters and life-savers.  The exhibition will be free and open to the public at:

  • The Trevor Huddleston CR Memorial Centre in Sophiatown, Johannesburg (12-16 August, 09.00-17.00 daily)
  • The Desmond and Leah Tutu Museum in Cape Town (19-25 August, 09.30-15.30 daily)
  • Durban in early September (exact date and location TBC).

The invitation-only VIP opening on 11 August* will feature live poetry and dance, as well as a panel discussion involving:

  • Annah Moyo-Kupeta, South African human rights lawyer and Executive Director of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR)
  • Janet Jobson, CEO of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation
  • Nataliya Popovych, Ukrainian activist and co-founder of Sunseed Art
  • Olesya Drashkaba, Ukrainian artist, curator and co-founder of Sunseed Art.

The opening is preceded by a live-streamed online-only public dialogue between African and Ukrainian speakers (12-2pm, 11 August), on the issue of a just peace for Ukraine and the impact of the war on Africa (register here). Hosted by the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation with the Ukrainian Association of South Africa at the Mail & Guardian platform, speakers include:

  • Graça Machel, international advocate for women's and children's rights
  • Myroslav Marynovych, co-founder of Amnesty International Ukraine,
  • Victor Ochen, Ugandan peace activist and Founder/Executive Director of the African Youth Initiative Network
  • Oleksandra Matviichuk, Ukrainian human rights lawyer and head of The Center for Civil Liberties in Ukraine.

Quotes

Janet Jobson, CEO of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation: 'Desmond Tutu once said, ''If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor''. Art is how these brave Ukrainian women have chosen to speak out against their oppressors. I strongly hope that South Africans – many of whom will still vividly recall the days of our own fight against oppression – will take the time to listen and engage in the vital message that they share.'

Olesya Drashkaba, curator of The Womanly Face of War and co-founder of Sunseed Art: 'I am in love with Ukrainian art. Beauty and freedom are two components that we want to share and inspire people with. We choose the powerful voice of art, this international language, to talk about women's pain, determination, bravery and utopian hope for justice and peace.'

Annah Moyo-Kupeta, Executive Director of Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR): 'Too often, women are subjected to the worst excesses of war and conflict and the most egregious human rights violations. This is happening in Ukraine now as it has happened, and continues to happen, in a number of countries across the African continent for many years. However, the powerful images in this exhibition also tell us how, as their lives are being ripped apart by war, women are stepping up as heroes to protect their homes and families.

'Fostering solidarity and understanding across nations is crucial to tackling issues of gender-based violence and the impact of war on women and girls. I'm confident that my South African sisters and brothers will be as keen as I am to show that solidarity.'

Nataliya Popovych, co-founder of Sunseed Art: 'Art is the language that helps us grieve and communicate our losses to the world but also creates empathy and understanding of the values we defend and imagines the future we want to build together.'

Notes to editors

Interviews: To interview the artists, or Annah Moyo-Kupeta or Janet Jobson from the launch event panel, please contact

  • Phumi Nhlapo: +27 82 442 4414/ phumi@tutu.org.za  (for interviews with Janet Jobson, CEO, Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation)
  • Anastasia Koperso: +27 76 236 5824/ info@uaza.co.za (for interviews with artists or Ukrainian Association of South Africa)

*Attendance of the VIP exhibition opening is by invitation only: invites containing full details will be issued in the coming days. Please note, details of the launch event are included above for media information only and are not to be published.

Where to see the exhibition

  • The Trevor Huddleston CR Memorial Centre in Sophiatown, Johannesburg (12-16 August, 09.00-17.00 daily)
  • The Desmond and Leah Tutu Museaum in Cape Town (18-25 August, 09.30-15.30 daily)
  • Durban in early September (exact date and location TBC).

Entry: Free; donations welcome (all profits go towards humanitarian efforts in Ukraine)

About the artists

Olesya Drashkaba, born in Uzhgorod, is a graduate of the Lviv Academy of Fine Art. She is an artist, curator, and lecturer. 

Sveta Grib, who lives in Irpin in the Kyiv region, studied graphic design at Kyiv University of Technology and Design.

Asya Krasilnikova, who is also based in Kyiv, was raised by a family of architects.

Nataliya Popovych, is an activist, international communications expert, and entrepreneur based in Kyiv. Alongside Sunseed Art, she is co-founder of Resilient Ukraine and founder of One Philosophy.

Anastasiya Pustovarova, born in Cherkasy, is a young graphic artist with a master's degree in graphics and illustration.

All of the artists who participate in Sunseed Art live and work in Ukraine. For more information—including photographs of the artists and reproductions of the art featured in the exhibition—please visit https://www.uaza.co.za/the-womanly-face-of-war/

About the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation

Founded in 2013, the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation represents one of the world's most iconic leaders, and his life-long partner. The Foundation strives to ensure their uncompromised bravery is celebrated, communicated and curated for posterity. Visit www.tutu.org.za

About the Ukrainian Association of South Africa

Ukrainian Association of South Africa (NPO 189-705) is a collaborative association registered in May 2017 that promotes networks between Ukrainians and South Africans for mutual development, increased awareness and inner growth of individuals and societies. For more information www.uaza.co.za or info@uaza.co.za

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CSVR is a multi-disciplinary institute that seeks to understand and prevent violence, heal its effects and build sustainable peace at the community, national and regional levels.

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