Review of the Year: Music, art, and events that shaped 2022

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By Frédéric Ponsard
Review of the Year: Music, art, and events that shaped 2022
Copyright  Andrew Kravchenko/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February marked a major turning point for culture in Europe. Art and music were among the first victims of the war, as post-pandemic joy quickly turned into shock and silence. 

But in an act of remarkable defiance, the Kyiv Classic Orchestra proved that art and music can’t be killed when they performed a concert of hope in Kyiv’s central square just two weeks after the war began.

In spring, at the Venice Biennale, "This is Ukraine: Defending Freedom", presented a militant art exhibition showcasing works of the greatest contemporary artists on the planet, in a further show of solidarity against Russia's war.

"I brought this big picture here because I wanted the Russian planes to see who they were shooting at every day", said French artist JR, who unveiled had unveiled a massive display of a young child in Ukraine's western city of Lviv, just one day after it was shelled by Russian forces. "And that's why we opened and spread out a 45-meter-long image, right in the heart of a city. You can't miss it when you fly over."

Ukrainian artist Nikita Kadan also spoke to Euronews about the important role that art has to play during a time of war.

"This work contains material evidence, here also like fragments of Russian missiles, and fragments of ruined buildings from Kyiv", he explained.

In May, Irish rock star Bono praised Ukraine's fight for "freedom" during a performance in a metro station in downtown Kyiv, where the U2 frontman also issued his own prayer "for peace".

Some of the world's greatest artists are active in Ukraine, and in November, it was Banksy who cropped up in the suburbs of Kyiv -- producing a series of artworks drenched in poetry and politics.

In May, the Ukrainian folk-rap group, Kalush Orchestra won the most-viewed televised music event in Europe – the Eurovision Song Contest -- with their song "Stefania."

The band has been touring Europe and even played the biggest festival of them all -- Glastonbury in the UK.

Euronews
Ukraine's President Zelenskyy addresses the crowd at GlastonburyEuronews

Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy even addressed the Glastonbury-goers -- who were happy to be back in the mud after restrictions halted music concerts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

And it was inevitably in London’s Hyde Park, that the grandfathers of Rock n Roll celebrated their 60th birthday, with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards visibly in great shape despite approaching 80 years old. Satisfaction, indeed!

Climate activism

The world of culture was rocked this year as climate activists targeted museums in Europe and around the world. From the Prado Museum in Madrid to the National Gallery in London, via Van Gogh and Andy Warhol, famous works were symbolically soiled with paint or soup.

This non-violent vandalism aimed to denounce global warming and the inaction of governments.

Euronews
Climate activists target museums and artwork to draw attention to environmental issuesEuronews

This year, campaigns to return artworks stolen by colonial powers gained greater momentum around the world. Germany is now set to return a large number of works to Benin and Nigeria in 2023.

The British Museum may also follow suit with the Rosetta Stone, currently on display in London to mark one of the most significant dates in Egyptology – and 200 years after the French scholar Champollion deciphered hieroglyphs. Egypt has not yet made any official request.

Greece, on the other hand, has demanded the return of the Elgin Marbles from the Acropolis of Athens, which were stolen by the British in the early 19th century. Reports suggest talks have been held between the British Museum and the Greek government -- suggesting a possible return of the Hellenic treasures to their homeland. 

Euronews
French artist JR performs outside the United Nations in New York, in support of women in IranEuronews

This politically-charged year of culture concluded with Frech artist JR's performance in front of the United Nations in New York, in support of women in Iran and their fight for freedom sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini on the 16th of September.