A tram driver who is in love with her job
the number of men is on the rise, she says.
Tram drivers are very loyal to their jobs: When route number 3 was upgraded for three years, drivers had to take time off and a pay cut, but many of them waited patiently for their jobs to resume. Semennikova was out of her job for a year out of the three years it took the authorities to repair the tram lines.
Her route reopened in 2010, and the drivers are happy with the improved work conditions. The speed of trams increased two-fold after the upgrades, from 30 to 60 kilometers per
Edward Dayen, the publisher of a Russian language newspaper in San Francisco.
For him, Boganim’s film proved a fitting stab at Soviet authorities, some of whom still hold power in modern Ukraine.
James Bond’s Ukrainian actress Olga Kurylenko from “Quantum of Solace” adds a celebrity momentum to it. Wearing a floating summer dress, she struggles to act like a devastated bride whose husband is whisked away to put out a forest fire on their wedding, which happens to be the same day as the explosion.
But towards the end of the first hour, she slips comfortably into a part of a tormented woman who cannot find her peace. Landing a job as a tour agent in the Chornobyl zone, she seems to be more alive visiting her past with a radiation dosimeter in hand. These scenes have been shot on location in Chornobyl in summer and winter of 2010, bestowing a documentary-like presence to the film.
“I am always interested in people who blend fiction and non-fiction together,” said Rosen from the San Francisco Film Society. She had to watch several thousands of shorts and features for this festival’s final program of 174 films, of which new directors made several hundred. “I think the director [Boganim] stroke the right balance between truth and a certain narrative liberty. It is clearly a product of vision.”
While it is hard to argue with the stunning photography, the film’s sound leaves much to be desired. The Ukrainian, Russian and French languages spoken in the narrative lends an international scope of tragedy, but it is the quality of Ukrainian that irks. Clearly spoken by people whose first language is Russian, it comes through as badly rehearsed and unnatural.
The work’s timing is more than striking. As Japan marks the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands and set off a radiation crisis, “The Land of Oblivion” lends sympathy and understanding to the people affected by a similar crisis thousands of miles away.
Yuliya Popova, the Kyiv Post’s former lifestyle editor, lives in San Francisco. An exhibition of a single painting by unknown artists would rarely cause controversy. But this one did. That’s because this particular work had more politics in it than art. It also epitomized public discontent about the current state of Ukraine’s politics.
The painting called The Last Day of Rada went on display briefly at Alex Art House center in Kyiv between April 17 and 23. Its centerpiece is Ukraine’s parliament building ablaze.
The painting, 80 by 120 centimeters in size, became famous virtually overnight, as most Ukrainian media ran stories about it, quoting multiple art critics trashing it as “unprofessional” and having no artistic value.
Yet one journalist claimed that someone offered a lump sum for the work, just to get rid of it.
“A wealthy person from Ukraine’s 50 richest list offered $325,000 for the painting, but the author refused to sell it. The buyer wasn’t interested in the landscape at all, he just wanted to destroy it,” said Kostyantyn Usov, an investigative journalist from TVI.
But Oleksyi Vasylenko, co-founder of the auction house Zolotoe Sechenie that deals with modern art, smirks at the concept that this picture has any value, calling the hullabaloo around it “childish.”
“The real value of this picture is at least five zeros less,” he says.
The picture seems to be surrounded in controversy.
Usov was trusted by the author to keep the painting until it went on exhibition. Yet the journalist refused to name either the potential buyer or even the author, who likes to call himself Citizen Artist, alluding to the famous Russian project Citizen Poet, which combined poetry and politics, making satirical reflections on current events though TV and radio shows.
This is not the only artistic allusion involved. The picture’s name is similar to The Last Day of Pompeii, a world famous Russian artwork by Karl Brullov, created in 1830. It depicts the famous eruption of Vesuvius volcano in 79 AD, which buried the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in ash and pumice, killing the whole population.
Both the Last Day of Rada and the Last Day of Pompeii are full of color contrast, dominated by the orange blaze of fire. The picture of the burning Rada also has little shapes of deputies fleeing the burning building, while the silhouettes of passers-by on the foreground are staring and pointing fingers.
The picture has a simple, naive feel to it, and to a regular consumer it would not look like a work of a professional artist. The author himself described the style as “sincere.”
In a written note passed to Kyiv Post though Usov, the author explained that people on the Internet called his picture “the Ukrainian dream.”
“The idea was not mine, but I captured it,” he says.
Exhibition organizers said they were approached by a buyer under the nickname Venedykt Venedyktovych, who owns a ship building company and collects art. Yulia Filonenko, the show's curator, said that person’s representative said he had no intention of destroying the work, though, and wanted it for its artistic value.
The author told Kyiv Post he had several offers, mostly from Russians. “But I am expecting an offer that would allow the picture to breathe – stay visible and, ideally, in the country,” he said.
Filonenko says the painting has caused so much controversy because it hit the bull’s eye in a nation where people are sorely disappointed with politicians of all colors and ranks.
“This picture is a first shot from the bow. Changes are coming forth,” she says.
Staff writer Anastasia Forina can be reached at [email protected]
Tetyana Semennikova is a happy tram driver. (Kostyantyn Chernichkin)