Art Project “Icons on Ammo Boxes” Has Reaped First Million Hryvnyas and Eased Communication of Ukrainian Politicians with Members of EP
Online publication Apostrophe has published an extensive interview with Oleksandr Klymenko, in which the artist told about the art project “Icons on Ammo Boxes” and shared his views of the situation in Ukraine and the world in connection with the Russian aggression.
The project, which has already brought UAH 1 million in sold icons over one year and a half, was initiated by Oleksandr together with artists Sofia Atlantova and Natalia Volobuyeva. In cooperation with the Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital (PFVMH) the project was implemented under the name of “Buy an Icon – Save a Life.”
Although Oleksandr Klymenko and PFVMH cofounder and leader Gennadiy Druzenko got to know each other during the Revolution of Dignity, the artist explains the cooperation just with the PFVMH by that he saw a systemic approach in the hospital’s work and prudent use of money donated to it. “I made inquiries both among their personnel at the front and among the warriors to whom they had provided services. I wanted to check everything because you know: there are volunteers and ‘volunteers,'” he told Apostrophe.
The main idea of the project is the transformation of death (symbolized by ammo boxes) into life (traditionally symbolized by icons in Ukrainian culture). The icons are painted on boxes brought from the combat area. Exhibitions of the icons have already been held in many countries, cities and institutions, including Parliaments of Ukraine and Lithuania and the European Parliament.
“After our visit to the European Parliament, some of its members have kept our works,” Oleksandr said in the interview. “And the next year, Ukrainian politicians who came there said ‘under an icon it’s easier to agree’ on some question or other concerning Ukraine.”
According to the artist, many of his fellow citizens experience the war in Donbas virtually. “Sometimes an impression is that the war troubles only those who now have a brother or another relative at the front, whereas the rest just surf the net, fighting with somebody by hitting keys and discussing something… It was very important for me to draw people from this virtual perception of the war, so at the exhibitions I used to say, ‘Take these parts of boxes, keep them in hands – they came from the front, some even from Pisky, the Donetsk Airport and Debaltseve.”