(Prints size 70x112 cm)
Kherson, Ukraine, nothing has changed. A casual conversation between two passers-by: “They should also give us money, not just humanitarian aid!” That's right, you can't argue with that. But there is more to it that is worth thinking about. Especially for those whose money “they” should give out. Life is getting better, as promised. Kherson’s strip clubs have resumed work. In the door handles of parked cars, you may find the usual pre-war advertising flyers inviting you to leave some “defitsit” cash in the deficit panties and stockings of local dancers. I don't know if they are already accepting rubles.
   On Russian armored vehicles, rockets, shells, and bombs, you may sometimes see toasts. “Zа Детей! (For Children!)”, for example. Probably, they also write “Za здоровье!(For health!)” and “Zа тех, кто в море! (For those at sea!)”. But if the soldiers of the Russian army were honest with themselves, they would now write one single toast: “For the face of Putin!” Alas, according to their laws, they can be legally and safely honest with themselves only verbally and without witnesses. There is a risk of coming to an unexpected solidarity that a dead Putin is now more useful than a living one. A corpse does not need to save face, it will be more willing to save the lives of people, international relations, and the economy of its country. But it is not only for this reason that I and many other Ukrainians bury the dictator. The first artwork I saw in March was Oleksiy Say’s Swan Lake dancers with a coffin from the times of the August coup by the State Committee on the State of Emergency in Russia. This is a strong and symbolic image, but such a death will not solve the conflict. In 1991, before the collapse of the USSR, behind the ballet on Russian television, the essence of totalitarianism was hidden - the absence of the citizen as a subject of the country's political life. The citizen was always turned off by it and did not want to turn on when the opportunity arose. He is a TV viewer watching events. He may like something, in which case he supports it, or he doesn’t like it, in which case he quarrels with the TV set. For Russia's lame identity, imperialism is a crutch. Without the personal freedom it needs to live a fulfilling life, it seeks the only way it knows to be meaningful and feel pride: defeating another nationality, some hypothetical Nazi, or a capitalist. Will it be able to live in the same form with a sense of disgrace after a military defeat in Ukraine? I doubt it. If it doesn't get its freedom, another dictator will follow, spin the turntable again, and put on the old records. It is not Putins who deprive their peoples of their freedom, the peoples create them by surrendering responsibility for their lives. It’s not the dictator we bury here but the slaves in ourselves! The Ukrainian who could say: “Okay, guys! I will sing the Soviet anthem, march with a ribbon in the victory parade, and gaze at Lenin with tears in my eyes, just don’t touch me!” The dictatorship does not rest on the strength of the ruling elite but on the weakness of the population. Fear of responsibility and power pushes people to give them away. Fear is a dictator inside ourselves, and if it is impossible not to be afraid, then let's be afraid that the progressive world will lose its values. Where will we run then?
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