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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Ivan KHIVRENKO: “Bloodshed is a road to nowhere”

24 February, 2014 - 17:48
Illustration by Ivan KHIVRENKO, 2007

A few years ago, Kyiv-based artist Ivan Khivrenko drew post-apocalyptic illustrations for computer games Cossacks, Heroes of Annihilated Empires, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R... His pictures often featured images of a destroyed Kyiv, with respirators and rifles appearing here and there amid devastation. It is unlikely that the artist could foresee at the time that his artwork would become terribly prophetic, and virtuality would become reality today. Ironically, Khivrenko worked on the project “Metro 2033 The Last Refuge.” We are now nearly two decades short of 2033, but Kyiv has already lost its “last refuge.” The Day spoke to the illustrator about his vision of the way out of the current situation.

Have you ever thought that your works can be brought to life?

“I presented this series two years ago, trying to show a dystopian Kyiv. I am most emphatically unwilling to see something like this actually happening. Unfortunately, we see that things are moving in that direction. Journalists put these questions to me frequently in recent weeks, but I would not like fame won in this way... When I was creating this work, it was intended to give people a signal, to encourage them to think really hard. When people want to live in a democratic country enjoying the rule of law, it is not enough just to talk about it, they need to do something about it. But of course, radical actions such as those that are happening now in the streets of Kyiv are not the way to go. Bloodshed is a road to nowhere, in my opinion. Both Ukrainians and the humankind in its entirety have stopped to create something, having turned into mere consumers. This global consumption can lead sooner or later to the outcomes seen in my pictures. After all, consumption-inclined people are prone to temptations, financial and otherwise. I am not joking, but rather warning.”

What way out of the current situation do you see?

“I cannot comment on it. It is so horrible! I think we have to look for some reasonable solutions rather than be guided by instincts. Violence is not an option. The language of ultimatums has no place here and now. This applies to both the authorities and the opposition. They must negotiate. I am afraid that we can lose not only Kyiv, but the entire country.”