Book Arsenal in Vilnius and Bologna: experience of support and experience of imposing “good Russians”
This year, the International Book Arsenal Festival presented its program at the Vilnius Book Fair in Lithuania and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy. Book Arsenal, which did not take place due to the full-scale invasion of Russia, has the opportunity to present Ukrainian books, writers, illustrators, winners of the “Best Book Design” competition and publishers on international platforms. The coordinator of the Book Arsenal, Yuliya Kozlovets, compares the experience of participating in both festivals especially for UP.Zhyttia. Read UP.Culture in Telegram When I was going to Vilnius, I was furious and used to repeat #йбнрсня about myself all the time. I left home for such a long time, to Vilnius, and then later to Bologna. Instead of half an hour to Zhulyany and a couple of hours of flight by budget low-cost airliner, we traveled through two countries by train for a long time, not too cheap, slept little, ate on the go, then still flew, were nervous for those from our delegation who traveled even longer by bus… And then first, what I saw upon arrival was our flag. And I felt at home with good friends. Ukrainian flags, our symbols are everywhere in Vilnius: in the windows of private apartments, business centers and state institutions, on fences, buses and billboards… In the same way, different people greet you with warmth everywhere, surround you with care, and always thank you, even before you have time to say thank you. itself… Read also: Persistence of existence: the world’s largest book fair rejected the Russians and focused on Ukraine The program of the Book Arsenal at the Vilnius Book Fair was created with the full comprehensive support and at the invitation of the Lithuanian Institute of Culture. They, as well as the Association of Publishers of Lithuania and LitExpo, the organizers of the largest book fair in the Baltic region, were super attentive to details, flexible and absolutely reliable in matters of programming, choosing names, themes, and event formats during all the months of preparation. I have always valued this partnership very much before – we had the experience of implementing joint projects in 2019 and 2021, and a certain level of trust and mutual respect was formed between us a long time ago. I think that this is the key to the most successful experiences of cooperation even in wartime. Photo: Vilniaus book mugė Last year, on the day of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the previous 22nd Vilnius Book Fair was opened. Shocked by the news in the morning, the organizers immediately changed their scenarios and plans and opened with a powerful campaign of support for Ukraine, declaring solidarity with the Ukrainian people and categorically condemning Russia’s aggression and boycott. A year later, while preparing the 23rd Vilnius Book Fair, the organizers choose blue-yellow colors for their identity and make the main emphasis of the program on events about Ukraine and with the participation of Ukrainian guests. In fact, we get a scene of them talking on the anniversary of the invasion about what’s important and what hurts. Photo: Vilniaus knijų mugė In the formation of the program, we followed the approach of multidisciplinarity traditional for the Book Arsenal, which allows us to speak to different audiences in the language of different types of art. We organized author’s readings for children with Kateryna Mikhalitsina; a discussion about the poster as a weapon and about creative practices during the war, in which members of the Pictoric illustrators’ club Olena Staranchuk and Oleg Hryshchenko took part; film performance by Evgenia Arlova STRICHKA; poetry readings with the participation of Ukrainian poets Galina Kruk, Haska Shiyan, Kateryna Mikhalitsyna and their translators; screening of Oleksandr Dovzhenko’s film “Earth” in cooperation with the Dovzhenko Center; a discussion about the solidarity of Ukrainian and Lithuanian writers; as well as the presentation of Andriy Lyubka’s book, which was supposed to take place exactly one year ago, but due to the full-scale invasion, it took place only this year. Art studio “Agrafka” and the Pictoric illustrators’ club held master classes for students of the Vilnius Academy of Arts. In addition, Romana Romanyshyn and Andrii Lesiv conducted creative workshops for children, during which Lithuanian schoolchildren and their Ukrainian peers, who found refuge from the war in Lithuania, drew together the city of Rondo, where the war once came. Oleksandra Matviychuk took part in the Media Forum event with the assistance of Book Arsenal. Photo: Angelina Trofymchuk During the fair, an exhibition of books with the best book design took place: Ukraine was represented by the winners of the “Best Book Design-2022” contest, which were announced by the Book Arsenal the day before. Our books also took part in the competition “The Best Baltic Book Design”, where the most beautiful publications from the Baltic countries and Ukraine, as a guest country, were evaluated. The ist publishing book “Handbook of Barrier-Freeness” received the winner’s diploma, together with three other most beautiful books from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. At the entrance to the Litexpo exhibition center, visitors had the opportunity to see the exhibition “Illustrated Ukraine” by the Pictoric Illustrators Club, which featured 39 posters created by Ukrainian illustrators during the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia. And in one of the exhibition halls, an exhibition was presented by the art studio “Agrafka” with illustrations for the books “The War That Changed Rondo” and “The Moscoviade”. Photo: Natalya Drapak 65 thousand visitors, about 600 events in 4 days. And support for Ukraine, crazy sincere support, the signs of which are literally everywhere – in the design of the stands, in the Ukrainian flags on the stands and in the hands of visitors, in the weaving of camouflage nets near the largest conference hall, in the greetings “Glory to Ukraine” from the guards at the entrance .. Having microphone, Lithuanians say: we are in debt to you, Ukrainians. You don’t just stand up for yourself, you stand up for us. We will support you as long as necessary, until Victory itself. Driving from Vilnius, I thought: how comfortable it is to be a guest here, on a personal and professional level. This is the friendship of equals. I think that if I returned home from Vilnius, I would have enough resources for a long time, renewed in a warm friendly welcome. But Bologna was waiting for me ahead. And it was not supposed to be very simple. Photo: Bologna Children’s Book Fair Support from the organizers, the mode of maximum assistance in the preparation of the illustration exhibition organized by the Book Arsenal and Pictoric, and our events, assistance to the Ukrainian Book Institute with the organization of our national stand, continuation of the boycott of Russian state institutions, personal involvement at the level to the technical details of the fair director Mrs. Elena Pasoli, the cooperation and flexibility, the desire to understand and meet our needs from the team – this is all about this year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the leading event of the book publishing industry, which in its 60-year history has managed to unite a unique and diverse global audience. The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is a meeting place for ideas from around the world, a global hub for the exchange of copyrights in the publishing field, as well as a center for modern multimedia and licensing of children’s stories, illustrations, animations and more. Organizers say this success is due to the ongoing dialogue and collaboration that the BCBF has established and maintains with publishers and the entire international children’s book community for decades. Photo: Bologna Children’s Book Fair And so, Bologna is also Russian illustrators in the list of 80 best illustrators in the world of this year’s Illustrators Exhibition. And the festival’s desire to “create cultural bridges” between countries, pursuing the goal of “developing children’s illustration and literature, as well as providing space for dialogue and exchange of experiences.” It is “a willingness to encourage the individual participation of independent publishers, writers, and artists from all countries and regions of the world who wish to creatively, peacefully, and purposefully contribute to the larger publishing community, uniting children and books.” Read also: Russian woman will not chair the jury of the Andersen Prize. Will it help the reputation of the “Children’s Nobel”? The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is a place where we, Ukrainians, must be in order to be heard and seen. So that at the entrance to the fair, everyone was greeted by a huge poster from the exhibition of Ukrainian illustrators, which spoke in a language understandable to everyone about the most important things for us today and made everyone stop. Photo: Bologna Children’s Book Fair So that the incredible team of the Stary Leva Publishing House, the best children’s publishing house in Europe, climbed onto the main stage for the awards. So that our speakers, incredibly cool world-renowned illustrators, could use the microphone for a large audience to reason and convincingly answer the question: what is wrong with Russians in competitions and executive bodies of international organizations?… Photo: Bologna Children’s Book Fair To demonstrate to the world cool projects, offer your expertise and new topics. To ask uncomfortable questions and answer sincere requests, explain your position, seek and find support. Actually, this is our job today: to be where we need to be, and to talk about what is important in a reasoned manner and persuasively.
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