Ukrainian Activists Promote Local Culture in Donbas
31 October, 2018

Yellow caution tape is used to draw attention to potential danger. Beyond this fragile boundary one may see a hole in the ground or a crumbling wall mosaic or some other public hazard.

Yellow Line is a series of exhibitions in the Donetsk region aimed at drawing attention to local historical monuments, architecture, and monumental art at risk of being lost. Its organizers include Olha Honchar, director of the Territory of Terror museum in Lviv. She and her team have been traveling to eastern Ukraine since 2015 to help local museums bring their working methods and formats up to date.

Visiting five cities on the Ukrainian side of the contact line in five days, the cultural activists observed how local landmarks are being maintained and asked local residents whether they were ready to preserve these historic monuments. They left five public display boards in each city, reminding residents of their local heritage.

Each city has a unique cultural history, interwoven with both the Soviet and European past. For example, Druzhkivka was once a center for ceramic production. Its porcelain tea sets were common in apartments all over the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, Kostiantynivka is known for its glass industry, established by Belgian entrepreneurs in the 19th century.

In Pokrovsk the museum welcomes young volunteers and is open to experimentation, whereas Sloviansk is inclined toward preservation, especially of its public outdoor mosaics. And the coal-mining town Dobropillia has no local museum. Yet projects like Yellow Line are organized expressly to facilitate the creation and development of local museums.

Hromadske attended the openings of the Yellow Line project’s five exhibitions last winter to see how cultural activists from Ukraine’s west and east are cooperating to highlight local cultural heritage.

/By Serhiy Zakharchenko

/Translated by Larissa Babij