Ukrainian separatists attack the enemy…giant lipstick

Militants Blow Up Art Basel Artist’s Giant Lipstick Sculpture

Sarah Cascone, Friday, June 26, 2015

A militant Russian-backed separatist group has blown up a large-scale public art installation in Donetsk, Ukraine, according to Izolyatsia (Isolation) leaders.

Leonid Baranov, a separatist group leader who helped occupy the gallery, calls the contemporary art on display ‚Äúperverted,” and says “these people are sick, and they have demonstrated this art to other sick people,” in a video posted ten months ago.

The destroyed artwork, titled Transform!, is a 2012 piece by Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou. It was created at the Izolyatsia Center for Cultural Initiatives as part of the exhibition “Where Is the Time?”

Tayou turned a 40-meter-tall factory smokestack into a monument to the women who helped the city rebound after the Second World War by perching a giant pink lipstick sculpture on top of the chimney.

The artist was prominently featured at this year’s edition of Art Basel, both at the fair’s popular Unlimited sector, where he showed a tree with colorful plastic bags for leaves, and at Galeria Continua’s captivating booth.

Meduza reports that according to Russian journalist Ilya Barabanov, the tower was demolished by the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) on June 2, although footage of the destruction didn’t appear online until this week.

The artwork’s destruction is only the latest indignity suffered by the city’s works of art. On June 9, 2014, the DPR invaded Izolyatsia, seizing the building and looting its art collection.

The Donstsk People’s Republic (DPR) destroy’s Pascale Marthine Tayou’s Transform! (2012), at the Izolyatsia Center for Cultural Initiatives. Photo: video stills.
The Donstsk People’s Republic (DPR) destroy’s Pascale Marthine Tayou’s Transform! (2012), at the Izolyatsia Center for Cultural Initiatives.
Photo: video stills.

“Over the past year Izolyatsia team was constantly informed of the consistent destruction of the artworks, which remained on the seized territory, and specifically, the destruction of site-specific installations,” the group wrote in short press release on the destruction of Transform! and the center’s ongoing occupation.

The Izolyatsia center has since held boycotts at the Venice Biennale and held a free vacation sweepstakes, offering a trip to the troubled region.

“They say that it was an international art center,” Baranov said. “We had no choice but to occupy it, because the art, which they spread, was not art at all. On the territory of Donetsk Republic this kind of art will be punished.”

Izolyatsia also included this quote from Tayou, presumably from the time of Transform!’s creation: “Thanks to the courage of the Ukrainian women, Donetsk rose from the ashes after the war and wanted to make some of their own symbols of love and hope‚ĶDonetsk is not only a city of mines and metal. It is also an island of dreams, ready to share its hidden treasures.”

Sadly, that beautiful vision is now threatened by the ongoing occupation.


Today we are all Ukrainian

Growing up, I thought of myself as a hyphenated Ukrainian; you know someone whose grandparents were born there and immigrated overseas to make new lives.

Later, as I grew up and started getting experience of actually living overseas and being immersed in different cultures, I realized I was about as Ukrainian as a perogie made out Manitoba durham wheat and Taber potatoes. There wasn’t much Ukrainian content in me at all, other than the foods I grew up wth, my surname, and a few of the more interesting words.

Today, watching the horrible events going on throughout the Ukraine, I am once again Ukrainian, but this time in the sense Kennedy was when he called himself a Berliner.

I hope you are, too.

May peace soon settle upon that troubled land.


A mish-mash of thoughts and impressions come to mind over the past several days:

— Alan Turing has received a pardon from the Queen for “moral turpitude.” A pardon? Pardon me, but Alan Turing doesn’t need any bloody pardon from anyone. The man was a genius, someone who gave great service to his country. He was not only a brilliant mathamatician but the father of computing and inventor of the machine that broke the Nazi Enigma code in WWII, a feat which some people believe won the war (for my own take on that see my essay on the subject (

No, Alan, stand proud, you don’t need no pardon from anyone!

— Justin Bieber…. yawn, just go away, will you please? You’ve become the Britney Spears of your generation. If only you weren’t Canadian so you didn’t infect the world’s opinion of our fine country.

— The Sochi Olympics; in a previous post, I mused whether the Olympics were worth the money and resource in this age; with the irresistible target they make for terrorists, that opinion is only growing stronger. I pray for the athletes, their relatives and the specator’s sakes there is somehow no incident related to these games.

— Rob Ford….see comments about la Bieber above but replace Britney Spears with Marion Barry. To paraphrase an axiom, a city gets the mayor it deserves. Toronto the unloved.

— Gillian Flynn…I recently finished two extremely disturbing novels by Madame Flynn. So well written but so soul destoying; after reading them, I felt like scrubbing out my soul with a wire brush… do I applaud her skills or lament the psychological trauma the books inflict? In contrast, I also finished Christopher Moore’s LAMB, comically rich and just as well written. How is that people object to this satire of the Messiah story so much more strongly than Madame Flynn’s rampage through the psyche?

— The Ukraine….deja Orange…my prayers are with you.