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Artists and Gallerists in New York Respond to the Crisis in Ukraine

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This international community of support and exchange is evident in Fragment Gallery’s New York location, which is critical for bridging cultural connections and redistributing resources for artists to relocate and ultimately shift public opinion back home. This can be seen in the gallery’s decision to livestream the recent community exchange, and distribute Brooklyn-based multimedia artist Rachel Rossin’s hacktivist DDoS hub to break through Russian censorship and dispel misinformation about the invasion. That these strategies are shared by and mirror tactics of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement initiated in support of Palestinians is not accidental, as echoed by Svyastsky last night during a pivotal exchange with an attendee. While horrific, the Ukrainian invasion is not unprecedented; there are humanitarian crises happening in Somalia, Palestine, Syria, and more that correlate with the same imperialism driving Russia’s invasion.

What is most prevalent through the arts is art’s role as a container for remembrance. Memory is not passive and critical to the agency of a people. Art has not been and is currently not passive in this struggle. What was intimately felt at Fragment Gallery was a renewed resolve from cultural producers to use their platforms to critique and strategize against Russia’s authoritarian regime. That, essentially, if art is the container for cultural memory, it is also what secures a future for a people and their community. These tangible outcomes from the community gathering demonstrate precisely the role of art—especially abroad, in the time of conflict, and the space of community—to literally bring people together and create room for grievance, care, and support.

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