What prevails most in the arts is the role of art as a container of memory. Memory is not passive and essential to the action of a people. Art has not been and is not passive in this struggle. What was intimately felt at Fragment Gallery was a renewed willingness of cultural producers to use their platforms to critique and strategize against Russia’s authoritarian regime. That essentially, if art is the container of cultural memory, it is also what ensures the future of a people and its community. These tangible results of community gathering precisely demonstrate the role of art – particularly abroad, in times of conflict and in community space – to literally bring people together and create space for grievances, healing and support.
New York artists and gallery owners react to the crisis in Ukraine
This international community of support and exchange is evident in the Fragment Gallery site in New York, which is essential for establishing cultural ties and redistributing resources enabling artists to relocate and ultimately bring public opinion home. . This can be seen in the gallery’s decision to livestream the recent community exchange and distribute Brooklyn-based multimedia artist Rachel Rossin’s hacktivist DDoS hub to break Russian censorship and dispel misinformation about the invasion. That these strategies are shared and reflect the tactics of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement initiated to support the Palestinians is not accidental, as Svyatsky echoed last night in a crucial exchange with a participant. Although horrific, the Ukrainian invasion is not without precedent; there are humanitarian crises in Somalia, Palestine, Syria and many others that correlate with the same imperialism that drove the Russian invasion.