For a while we had seen poems on Lviv walls and had wondered why they are there. One day we happened to run into Andrii Mochurad. He is one of the artists behind “Granit”, a local group of activists that initiated a lot of those paintings. So we talked to him about the project and what other things they have planned.
We have seen a lot of poems on Lviv’s walls and we have wondered the whole time: Are you writers, poets or painters?
We are a couple of activists, authors, organisers. All together and all in one. One boy, Bogdan, wrote his own poem, I painted a few of his poems. We add additional information to the portraits, which we also paint on the walls, like some information who that person was and what they have done for Ukraine.
Are you guys doing that legally?
There is no such thing as a “permission” in Ukraine, but you can make a deal that the police will not arrest you for “vandalism”.
Does the government support you?
We as artists and activists decided to catch people’s attention for the war and the ATO (editor’s note: This is the Ukrainian term for the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine that is here referred to as Anti-Terrorist Operation) but in a nice way. The topics of Granit are actually those of the situation in the country. However, the government does support us with grants.
What’s the aim of the project?
We want to remind everyone about this hard situation that is going now in the East of Ukraine. Some poems are written right after those activists came back from the war. Some were injured, others never returned or lost friends and that’s why it’s actually a close topic for all of them.
Is the project also a way to reintegrate those who have come back from the war?
Yes, the main aim is to rise up discussion about war but not in a conflict way. Somebody sees the tragedy of dead fighters and others see only flowers.
Does it help those who have fought there to deal with what they have gone through and seen?
To those who have PTSD (editor’s note: post-traumatic stress disorder) unfortunately graffiti will not help. They need psychotherapy. But the fighters who see the graffiti often thank us and cry from happiness.
There are lots of foreign tourists here. Do you have English poetry too?
No, not yet. As for English we did have an idea to make a gallery with statistics about people who have died in the ATO on Benedyktovycha street, and it supposed to be in Ukrainian and English.
There seem to be copycats who now write poetry on walls but don’t mark them with the project. Have you been inspiration to local artists?
Yes, there are some copycats and it’s not a positive sign. We have a concept, an idea and we always agreed our next creation with the government. But these kids spoiled the walls in the end. It’s ugly and has no meaning behind it. So it looks more like a parody, even you can’t really see it so clear, because it’s not a painting or graffiti but just text. For example Olyvka (note from editor: Ukrainian for Olive): What she does is askew and she does it in the night, so it’s not beautiful. Who knows why she didn’t ask us for help or some co-working. Then it would be legal and she would be known.
But what about Project #1. We have seen their stuff around and it also seems legal. Are you working together?
There is small difference between Granit and Project #1. We both want to create, both want to write poems. But we from Granit want to write our own texts and not in the center, and our main idea is to gain attention to the war. Project #1 just wants to put famous poems, no paintings only text and mostly in the central area, where we already have it everywhere.
What would you wish for the future of the project?
Well, we want to do it with quality even with the kids, but always legal and with a permission – like we did on Sakharova street or Ustyianovycha street. People develop some interest when you show them this possibility and when you can say it was all legal and not in the night!
The interview was conducted by our Buddy Marta.
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