Oleksandr Roitburd: Dismissal as a historical event

It has finally happened – they did turn the case as desired. Let’s think – what did the Odesa Regional Council care about the Odesa Art Museum? If you look at the level of funding for this “utility” – as much as nothing. Never before have the appointment and dismissal of the director of any museum in Odesa been the subject of such explosive passions and public resonance. Never before have the deputies of the Regional Council so persistently raised the issue of the dismissal of one of the best artists of Ukraine – so persistently, even importunately, as in the case of Roitburd.

I am convinced that this is not about the museum, it is about the personality, the non-standard and bright personality of the artist Oleksandr Roitburd. He is too big of a “star” to allow him to shine on the provincial horizon of Odesa which Oleksandr affectionately called “an urban-type settlement Odesochka”.

If we were talking about the museum, we would discuss by how many times the revenues of the museum increased during the “reporting period”, how many excursions and concerts were organized, how many lectures were read. We would reсall the project Give a Frame to a Painting, the Marazli Club and other philanthropic projects. It would be the renovation of Serebriakivsky hall. But that’s not the point.

The point is Oleksandr Roitburd, who “dishonors Odesa” (but Odesa should have been proud of such an artist); out of all of his paintings one or two were chosen – those that were painted for the “uncensored” exhibition. And Roitburd is one of the most productive artists I know. At the time, falsification was committed against him – I mean the so-called “expertise” of the Odesa Museum of Western and Eastern Art.

Do Oleksandr’s political views matter in the campaign against him? I’m sure they do. The deputies of the Opposition Bloc don’t like Roitburd’s patriotism, his knowledge of the state language, his support of the president Poroshenko during a failed campaign. What about his surname and ethnic origin? I think they also matter, although expressing anti-Semitic views directly today is not really comfortable, not something that a deputy should do.

I think that the incident which occurred in the museum on the eve of the Regional Council’s session and City Day was a well-thought provocation. And, as we now see, the provocation worked.

I hope this isn’t the end of the story. On Saturday at 10 AM there will be a protest in support of Oleksandr. The decision of the Regional Council can be appealed in court.

But the decision that is shameful for Odesa will only strengthen the popularity of Roitburd. So I can sincerely congratulate him.

Text by Borys Khersonsky

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