Ukrainians on the Côte

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The Côte d’Azur has always attracted prominent figures of culture, and Ukrainians are no exception. But few people are actually aware of this.
Ukrainian artist and painter Kateryna Kosianenko will be opening the art exhibition on 18th January
The Côte d’Azur has always attracted prominent figures of culture, and Ukrainians are no exception. But few people are actually aware of this.

“Having been part of the Russian Empire and later part of the Soviet Union, Ukraine witnessed its culture being marginalised and its representatives grouped as ‘Russian’,” reveals Dr. Natalia Burianyk, organiser of a new cultural event in the Riviera.

Perhaps the most famous Ukrainian Nicoise is Marie Bashkirseff, an artist, author of famous diaries, and one of the first French feminists. Among others are writers Volodymyr Vynnychenko and Mykola Gogl, photographer Leo Mirkin, and the artist Johanna Winnyki.

“The goal of the event is to familiarise the residents of the Côte d’Azur with the Ukrainian legacy here, as well as to introduce them to what modern Ukraine has to offer,” says Dr. Burianyk. “And, of course, the inclusion in the program of the play ‘Marie Bashkirtseff: Journal Intime’ by Frederic Rey – Nice writer and director of the La Semeuse Theatre, creates a meaningful link to the local cultural community.”

From 15th to 29th January, the special cultural event will pay homage to the past while introducing Nice to some new Ukrainian faces.Program detailsOpening the festival will be an exhibition by the art group Absinth Reality and the RITO fashion show at the Providence Cultural Centre, a leading Ukrainian knitwear brand whose Côte d’Azur collection has been specially created for this event.

On 16th January, there is a literary evening at the Louis Nucéra library involving Glagoslav Publications, an independent British-Dutch press specialising in the publication of Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian authors in English. The 18th January will see another exhibition, this time by Ukrainian artist Kateryna Kosianenko – one of the country’s most promising artists.

And the public can enjoy a theatre performance on 19th January at the Beaux Arts Museum entitled ‘Marie Bashkirtseff: Journal In Time’, based on the artist’s famous diaries.

In researching for the January 2013 event, Dr. Burianyk says she has come across some interesting history. “I discovered that the well-known Ukrainian writer Volodymyr Vynnychenko was buried in Mougins. He was also a playwright, artist, and head of the first Ukrainian government after the October Revolution. He moved to Paris and then to Mougins in 1934 and died there in 1951. Mougins is unaware of its famous resident.”

Little by little, Dr. Burianyk says, Ukraine is becoming more known in the world for its cultural accomplishments. She hopes that the event in Nice will contribute to this. “All my Ukrainian participants, despite the political and economic mess in their country, lack of funds and difficulties with visas, felt very strongly about coming to Nice to share their work with the local community. I am in awe of their love of creativity and devotion to art, and this fills me with hope for Ukraine.”

Cassandra Tanti