A Century of Ukrainian Revolutions: 1917-2017 Series at a glance


The Ukrainian Institute in London plans a series of events to commemorate the centenary of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917, which set the foundations of a modern Ukrainian state, brought about unprecedented transformations, upheavals and tragedies, spurred creativity and flourishing of Ukrainian arts. Interestingly, same features define the realities of today’s Ukraine.

A wide range of events is already planned to take place across London’s museums and universities, analysing the historic, social, political and artistic legacy of 1917. However, most of them look at this period through the prism of the Russian Revolution. The Ukrainian revolution of 1917, aiming to achieve social justice and national liberation, opened a century of Ukraine’s struggle for its independence and statehood in which Ukrainians experienced revolts and violence, civil war and social experimentation, forceful collectivization and famines, persecution of religion and faith by the atheistic state, Soviet state building and disintegration of the Soviet Empire. 

The experience of those turbulent years has influenced the political processes in modern Ukraine and many historians today look at the Ukrainian revolution of 1917-21 as a precursor to the Euromaidan or “Revolution of Dignity” of 2013-14.  This period was also marked by flourishing of Ukrainian avant-garde painting, literature and cinema. Very distinct in its flavor, this artistic work was tolerated by the Soviet State at the start but later suppressed and disregarded. Linked to Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, Odesa either by birth, education, work or sense of identity, this group of artists and cinematographers became an integral part of European modernism and influenced the development of Ukrainian modern art.

The Ukrainian Institute in London is planning a series of events throughout 2017 to engage British public in a discussion and reflect on a century of Ukrainian revolutions and their impact on Ukraine’s modern state and society. Key defining moments of Ukrainian history of this period: Ukraine’s state-building of 1917-21 and the Great Famine of 1932-33 will be discussed in talks, given by prominent historians Mark von Hagen and Anne Applebaum. The artistic legacy of Olexander Dovzhenko and Kazimir Malevich will be a focus of dedicated events.

The series will include a screening of an iconic film by Ukraine’s renowned film director Oleksandr Dovzhenko, “Zvenyhora” (1928) as well as two little known, albeit brilliant, silent avant-garde films of the period “Shkurnik” (“A Profiteer”, 1929) and documentary “In Spring” (1929). The screenings will compliment panel discussions with authoritative historians and cultural commentators. The series will involve a partnership with the Oleksandr Dovzhenko National Centre, the Ukrainian state cinemateque, which will offer restored copies of the films for viewing and provide a cultural/historic comment for them.

Finally, the series will re-connect with the realities of today’s Ukraine which finds itself in a process of intense dialogue with the intellectual and artistic legacy of the Soviet period. A separate event will look at the phenomenon of  “Leninopad” and Soviet mosaics as visual artefacts of the bygone era. 

All events of the series