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

Preserving unique attractions

Citizens of Kherson engage in art events in order to draw attention to the abandoned watchtower built in times of Vytautas, to the house-museum of Polina Raiko, and to the lighthouse on Dzharylhach island
19 October, 2016 - 18:04
Photo by the author

The third stage of the annual contemporary art festival Terra Futura has been held in Kherson recently. Local artists, historians, experts on monument preservation, and journalists visited one of the oldest architectural monuments of the region – a watchtower near the village of Vesele. It was built under the reign of Vytautas, ruler of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (late 14th century). Here, the festival participants have created an art area with an exhibition (with the works of Marianna Tarish, Serhii Sierko, Yelyzaveta Shvab, Olena and Maksym Afanasiev, and others on display). It also featured live music performed by violinist Radion Krasnovyd, and a dance performance presented by Insight Dance Group. Meanwhile, historical reenactors of Cossack era treated guests with kulish and told stories of this land’s Cossack past.

Olena Afanasieva, one of the organizers of Terra Futura, told The Day that this year’s festival is dedicated to unique monuments under threat of destruction. “We have visited three locations: the lighthouse on the island of Dzharylhach, the house-museum of artist Polina Raiko, and the Vytautas’s tower,” she said.

The lighthouse is catastrophically dilapidated. There is an idea in Skadovsk to partially transfer the lighthouse to the city’s waterfront. “But we insist that the lighthouse is a historic monument that is important at its original location. Early past century, Davyd Burliuk visited that place and wrote his Sea Story there. We visited the island in September together with artists from all over Ukraine, and they created illustrations for this work. We collected the artists’ works in an art-book.”

The next location is the home of Polina Raiko in Oleshky. The house is painted by the owner, who had had a very hard life before she started, already in her old age, painting its walls in naive style. After Raiko’s death the house gradually decays, its new owners are abroad. “Both the public and the local authorities are ready to contribute in order to preserve the building, but the problem is with the owners, who have not responded to any of our initiatives,” continued Afanasieva. “We organized several visits to the house this year, to draw attention to this place and emphasize that it has to be alive, it must be demonstrated to people. For two months, the artists had spent nights in the house, and then created a series entitled ‘Dreams of Polina Raiko.’”

The third object is the tower of Vytautas. Terra Futura organizers believe that this medieval architectural monument is threatened by the second phase of Kakhovka hydroelectric power station construction, which is due in the coming years. “Even if the tower survives the construction, it will not be available for tourists and scientists, because the station will be a restricted territory,” Afanasieva said. “In addition, the water will be very close to the tower, which might be falling in decay faster because of that. In fact, this is a unique monument, there are not many similar to it even in Lithuania. Therefore, it drew attention of Viktor Popov, Honorary Consul of Lithuania in Ukraine, who is now helping us in the campaign to preserve the tower and open the access to it. Historical reconstruction, land art, exhibitions, performances – the potential of this place is huge. We should not lose it, especially when we talk about tourism as a strategic industry for the Kherson region.”

By Ivan ANTYPENKO, The Day, Kherson