Ukraine House in Denmark opens its doors in Copenhagen
On Feb. 24, 2023, the day of the bitter anniversary of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine House in Denmark, an informal cultural embassy of Ukraine, officially opened its doors in Copenhagen. The primary mission of the institution is to create a long-term positive impact on Ukrainian-Danish collaboration, security and lasting peace in Europe by facilitating robust intercultural dialogue, multi-disciplinary projects, and programs, and promoting Ukraine’s cultural heritage, modern culture and entrepreneurship with an outlook to the future.
“It is my hope that it will be a House where Ukrainians can express themselves, their thoughts and feelings about art and culture and about being here in Denmark far away from home and celebrate the Ukrainian culture and the will to thrive and fight against the oppressors, because the preservation of culture and identity is crucial for the soul of the nation and the future of Ukraine,” stated the Minister of Culture of Denmark Jakob Engel-Schmidt.
Nataliya Popovych, chairperson of Ukraine House in Denmark, underlined at the opening ceremony that Russia began a war in Ukraine 9 years ago for reasons other than territory, economic gain, or influence. It is a battle for millions of Ukrainians’ identities, those seeking to live in a democratic and free country.
“I cannot thank our partners in Denmark enough for the opportunity to have our voice heard when Russia is trying to silence it. To be able to say “we exist” when Russia is trying to destroy thousands of our cultural monuments, to deny us and our children and our right to existence. We cannot find a better way to commemorate the bitter anniversary of the full-scale invasion than by opening our cultural residence in Copenhagen,” says Nataliya Popovych.
Since opening its doors on Feb. 24, 2023, over 800 guests have visited Ukraine House, including diplomats, journalists, gallerists, bloggers, and leaders of cultural institutions, both Ukrainians and Danes. They attended the first panel discussion we held in our premises, featuring Dr. Serhii Plohii (director of Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute), Dr. Frederic Rosen (director of the Nordic Center for Cultural Heritage and Armed Conflicts), Julie Arnfred Bojesen (director of Ukrainian-Danish Youth House), Nataliya Popovych (chairperson of Ukraine House in Denmark) moderated by Charlotte Flindt Pedersen (director of The Danish Foreign Policy Society). The discussion focused on the role of culture in national security plans, the establishment of successful policies to protect cultural heritage during wartime, and, in particular, the phenomenon of Ukrainian culture and patriotism blossoming and what it implies for Europe’s democratic future.
“This war has been more about culture than, probably, most of the wars we have witnessed or read about in history books. Putin’s pseudo-history articles and speeches state one theme — that Russians and Ukrainians are the same people. In his mind, it means that Ukraine as a culture, a nation, an identity, and a unique history does not have any rights to exist… Putin, who attacked Ukraine in 2022, believed that he was attacking Ukraine-2014 when, in fact, the war that started in 2014 created a completely different Ukraine in record time. With a much more solid identity, with much more readiness to defend yourself, to defend your state, to defend your culture. And that big transformation was actually missed by Putin,” explained Dr. Serhii Plohii.
Guests visited the Ukrainian wartime art exhibition “THE MUSES ARE NOT SILENT,” containing over a hundred paintings, sculptures, architecture, and video art created during the war by more than 50 Ukrainian artists from all over the country. It is the first time the exhibition, curated by Ukrainian curator Pavlo Gudimov, has been shown outside of Ukraine. It was brought to Copenhagen explicitly for the opening of the Ukraine House in Denmark.
Photo: Nataly Dauer, Hanna Hrabarska