Artists in the KGB/StB Documents:
They happened to live in the XX century, the times of failed attempts of building the communist utopia in Ukraine, Georgia, Czhech Republic and other countries.
They had different cultural backgrounds and contexts, they didn't always know each other but often had similar stories of resistance, cooperation of repressions.
Ukrainian and Georgian avant gardists were close companions but both of the environments had to disappear, dissolve or adapt due to the 1930s repressions and cleansings. Soviet special services reported when the artists who survived in the end of the decade tried to find out if anyone is still alive, for example Ukrainian film director Oleksandr Dovzhenko made an enquiry on the fate of his Georgian colleagues, particularly of Zhango Gogoberidze, writer who was executed by shooting. In the falsified criminal cases the representatives of Georgian avantgardism were also accused of the contacts with the Ukrainian “bourgeois nationalists” among the artists and politicians, for example friendship with Volodymyr Vynnychenko.
Czech artists also felt censorship tension later after the local Communist party, supported by the Soviet Union, usurped the power in post-war years. Although they didn’t suffer cleansings of the 1930s, they knew well what the ruined career, absurd accusations, constant surveillance and physical assault mean. And meanwhile they were able to launch a wave of democratic transformations in Central and Eastern Europe.
This online-exhibition is a story of artists, film directors, actors, musicians and writers. They reacted to the censorship and repressions differently as first of all they were humans with their own fears, weaknesses and mistakes
Some of them were forced to cooperate with special services but pulled their leg as humorous writer Ostap Vyshnia. Some of them were voluntarily recruited but not only played the role of a noble spy, for example Ukrainian painter Mykola Hlushchenko. Some of them mistaked only once during his or her youth but the consequences are still remembered as it happened to Czheck writer Milan Kundera. Some of them broke, some got a second chance as the first president of Georgia and writer Zviad Gamsakhurdia.
This project is based on the documents of former archives of the communist special services. We made an attempt to see what is there on the other side and to show how the Chekist bureaucracy influenced separate lives and changed the cultural landscape of the countries. To show the Chekists messaged in their memorandums, what reportings they wanted to get and how they ordered critical reviews for those they wanted to imprison.
Unfortunately not all of the cases against the artists were preserved. For example there are only mentions in Ukrainian archives about Sergiy Paradzhanov’s case against object “Tuneyadets” (“Parasite”).
Large array of Georgian cases burnt in fire during the takeover in December 1991. Also part of the documents was sent to Russia.
Czech archives are opened and mostly digitized but there are still a lot of materials yet to be processed by the researchers.
Copies of the documents regarding the artists whose stories are demonstrated at the exhibition are taken from the archives of Communist special services and are now available and can be freely downloaded at the website of the Digital Archive of Ukrainian Liberation Movement.
ukraine czech republic georgia
painting music literature theater cinema