Natalie Kononenko Folklore vs Fakelore

Folklore is the artistic expression of belief. It is a “bottom-up” phenomenon: art generated by the people themselves and not imposed on them by commercial or political interests. This paper will explore 3 forms of folk art connected to Euromaidan. 1) During Euromaidan itself people asserted their ties to Ukrainian tradition by painting their combat equipment with traditional Ukrainian images. Helmets were painted to look like pysanky while shields were decorated with bucolic scenes such as those found in folk paintings. 2) After Maidan was over, people incorporated symbols of the uprising into their lives. Tires, associated with the barricades used on the square, were painted blue and yellow, often with additional decorations such as flowers, and used as planters and statuary. 3) People used folk items to effect a wished-for outcome. Images of a korovai in the shape of Ukraine – and with Crimea still obviously attached, appeared on the internet. There were pysanky and rushnyky with the Ukrainian trident and rushnyky with text calling for God’s help and protection of Ukraine. My paper will analyze these forms of expression and contrast them with the one Russian folklore form that has appeared online to date. This is a video of an elderly woman reciting a verse addressed to Barak Obama, asking him to be a friend of Russia. It is notable that this text is not the woman’s own composition, but something composed for her in the manner of Stalin era fakelore.

Natalie Kononenko
Professor and Kule Chair
University of Alberta

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