“The Hole. August 2014” Exhibition in Kyiv
The exhibition showcases how Donetsk was captured by Russian-backed militants and the author's resistance
In Kyiv opened an exhibition called “The Hole. August 2014” showcased a graphic novel by Serhiy Zakharov. Through his work, the artist from Donetsk depicts how his hometown was captured by Russian-backed militants and his own endeavor to resist through art.
FIve years ago, Serhiy Zakharov lived and made paintings in his native city of Donetsk. In the spring of 2014, his city was occupied by Russian-backed militants.
“Something would change beyond recognition every day. However, after the militants entered the city, there was already a feeling that the city was lost. Before that, it seemed that it was still possible to bear with it and that all this would pass, and that everything was not so serious,” he said.
Serhiy says at that time he couldn’t bear watching nameless armed men walking around the streets of Donetsk. He couldn’t oppose them openly, so he decided to do it secretly, with the help of a brush, and a pencil as his weapon.
Serhiy created an art-group of resistance, called “Murzilka”. During the day he painted caricatures making fun of the militants, and he would put them on the walls of buildings of occupied Donetsk in the early morning.
“I would just walk around the city and take note of places where I could put up my works. I used to mark the spot, it was never a spontaneous decision. I always checked if there were video cameras nearby, always thought of ways to escape, where to park my car, how to deliver the painting to the spot and how to hang it,” he said.
However, even extra discretion didn’t help Serhiy escape captivity. In August 2014, the occupiers figured out who the artist was and arrested him.
“People were lying on the floor in the basement. The floor of the basement was literally covered with bodies. A lot of them were already crippled. I was beaten during the first interrogation. Then during the second one and then – the third. I found myself having trouble breathing. Only later I found out that my ribs were broken. After my first interrogation, the militants staged my first (mock) execution,” he said.
Interrogations, starvation, torture and mock executions: for six weeks Serhiy lived in hell. His friends helped him escape and move to the government-controlled territory of Ukraine. Here the artist came up with the idea to tell his story in a comic book.
Serhiy called his comic book “The Hole”. He says that’s how Russian-backed militants refer to the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic. The book has already been translated into eight languages.
In the near future, Ukraine’s Ministry of Information Policy is going to work on the distribution of the graphic novel, titled “The Hole. August 2014.”