March 15, 2022

A T T E N T I O N ! Air Raid Sirens in Kyiv!

Nastia Teor

до війни—do viyny—before the war

I made this poster and wrote the text next to it two days before the fascist Russian Federation supported by the Republic of Belarus bombed Kyiv, Kharkiv, Berdiansk, Odesa, Mariupol, Zhytomyr, and Borispil and attacked the borders via Luhansk, Sumy, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Zhytomyr, and Crimea. Even though the Russian army invaded Ukraine eight years ago, and all this time we have had war in East Ukraine and Crimea, I refused to believe that Kyiv could be bombarded. You can see that disbelief on the poster: pacifist symbols cautiously cover up swear words. Two days after I made it, a close friend instructed me on how to use a weapon so I can protect myself from Russian saboteurs and war marauders in Kyiv. This text is my (personal) experience of the first two weeks of war in Kyiv.

❗❗A T T E N T I O N ! A i r r a i d s i r e n s i n K y i v !❗❗

день 1—den’ 1—day 1

On the second day of Russia’s large-scale invasion in Ukraine, I had a feeling that I couldn't wake up. Everything felt surreal. The morning of the first day is imprinted on my body forever. I see it even now like a video looooping veeery slooowly in my head: my roommate R wakes me up and says that martial law has been declared in Ukraine, and that Russian soldiers are bombing Ukrainian cities. I’m bursting into tears, we hug and I ask him: “Are you going to your job?” Only when I hear my words aloud do I understand how stupid it sounds, because of course there is no job anymore. He leaves with friends. My partner O is in another town with his family. I’m shocked, alone, shaken, completely disoriented, scared to stay, scared to leave, scared to move, and scared to stay in one place for more than ten seconds. I watered my plants before I left my home but forgot to shut off the gas pipe. The video loop ends here. The rest of the day is spent: reading news, hearing the siren, the siren, the siren, texting with O: –“the siren is on. maybe because of 4 ballistic missiles launched from Belarus in the south-western direction.” –“where is it?” –“it’s where I am.” And every minute that I waited for those missiles to hit somewhere in the south-western direction lasted an hour; everything was slowed down. It’s the kind of time trap that I have experienced many times since that first attack. On this day I lost all sense of peace, safety, and home.

❗❗A T T E N T I O N ! A i r r a i d s i r e n s i n K y i v !❗❗

новий відлік—novyy vidlik—new countdown

The Ukrainian word for February is “лютий” (lyutyy) and it means “fierce.” On the “second day,” or the 25th of lyutyy, I felt less panic and fear but more anger, rage, fury. There was more and more news about fierce Ukrainian soldiers and civilians successfully warding off the Russian war criminals’ attacks, stopping tanks with only their bodies and destroying Russian military equipment with Molotovs. I was texting with friends, and we were all telling each other how shocked and proud we felt. I suggested that Ukraine was no longer a country with an inferiority complex to her “older brother” Russia” but finally straightened her “back.” That was a time of adrenalin and euphoria. I lost all my projects and moved every file to folder named “PEACE” that I haven’t once since opened. A new folder called “WAR” was getting bigger everyday with new pictures and texts. I tried to find all possible ways to be useful. We were learning solidarity inside Ukraine, helping each other with requests that are absolutely new to us: assisting with evacuations, bringing food to the subway, rescuing a cat or a hamster from an abandoned flat.

❗❗A T T E N T I O N ! A i r r a i d s i r e n s i n K y i v !❗❗

I was slowly learning how to live in wartime, constantly trying to find an answer to the question: “Should I leave or should I stay?” I received dozens of messages with the same meaning: “Leave now! Before it’s too late.” The terror in Mariupol, Bucha, Rubizhne, Sumy, Borodianka and Hostomil and many other places was also “telling” me the same thing. And my gut was telling me: “Stay, otherwise you’ll go crazy, you will give up.” The necessity of answering this question every f* day paralyzed my body. A week before this nightmare began and the air was already electrolyzed, I felt that my home was my body, too. For someone who was raised as a desireless object, to gain and save a body with agency and its own will was also a question of survival. So I made a decision to sacrifice the safety of this body in order to preserve my mental state. Was I saving myself or risking it all for nothing? Hard to say. I guess my body was already torn to pieces by Russian soldiers, and there was no way to save it in its previous condition. I have chosen to stay. I must add—I had the privilege to choose.

❗❗A T T E N T I O N ! A i r r a i d s i r e n s i n K y i v !❗❗

On the eighth day I moved to a new place with my girls/comrades. Then, one of us had to leave to help her sister with a newborn. On the tenth day we rescued a hamster, and he became both our talisman and a source of laughter. We built our new war-mode life: making pancakes, talking about strategies, making plans B and C, and decorating our corridor (the safest place in case of bombing). Meanwhile we began collecting donations, delivering food, products, and medicine to elders and people in need, and collecting stuff left behind in friends’ abandoned apartments. One night, when the Zaporiz’ka Nuclear Power Station was on fire from shelling by the Russian army, we were texting with O. We thanked each other for everything and said goodbye in a calm surrender to fate.

❗❗A T T E N T I O N ! A i r r a i d s i r e n s i n K y i v !❗❗

On the eleventh day I returned to my abandoned apartment to water the plants and pick up some stuff for myself and O in case of a complete evacuation. I’ve collected our jewelry, postcards, stickers, small gifts from friends, toys, a vibrator (with hope for an orgasm one day), and one book for each— the things we won’t be able to buy and replace. On my way to the subway, I met my classmate, who is a surgeon in the hospital near my home. Then I met my dear friend—one of the few who stayed in Kyiv—and we shared a cigarette. I saw how my city changed over these eleven days, with barricades and special defense construction everywhere. The same streets that were so noisy and full of life had become dark and silent.

❗❗A T T E N T I O N ! A i r r a i d s i r e n s i n K y i v !❗❗

The thirteenth day was March 8th. A year ago, we had a party, and everybody was singing “Bread and Roses” in Russian on repeat. This year, with everyone scattered in different cities, we didn’t have the chance to do it. I was singing it alone, crying, and thinking about D who is now stuck in Mariupol without electricity, food, water, and with constant shelling for a week already. We only hope that our friends and their relatives are still alive. My brother brought three roses to me and my new flatmates. Though I would appreciate a gun more, we fight for roses too.

❗❗A T T E N T I O N ! A i r r a i d s i r e n s i n K y i v !❗❗

Break the rhythm.

After two weeks I learned to live with the rhythm of the sirens. They tell me when and where I should smoke or eat. They tell me what I should do—the dishes in the kitchen or work on the computer in the corridor. They are telling me about the scale of safety I have. My body lives in war mode now, and probably will even after we win. I hope soon we will start to tear the tape from our windows and be done with imperialism, with this war and with all wars.

❗❗A T T E N T I O N ! ❗❗New York!

CLOSE THE SKY OVER UKRAINE—it will save thousands of innocent lives.

❗❗A T T E N T I O N ! ❗❗Hague!

PUNISH RUSSIAN WAR CRIMINALS—it will save thousands of innocent lives.

❗❗A T T E N T I O N ! ❗❗Warsaw!

HELP STOP THIS WAR MACHINE CALLED THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION—it will save thousands of innocent lives.

❗❗A T T E N T I O N ! ❗❗Helsinki!

ISOLATE RUSSIA FROM THE OTHER WORLD—it will save thousands of innocent lives.

❗❗A T T E N T I O N ! ❗❗Paris!

HELP STOP THE GENOCIDE OF UKRANIAN PEOPLE—it will save thousands of innocent lives.

❗❗A T T E N T I O N ! ❗❗Berlin!

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY AND ISOLATE THIS WAR MACHINE CALLED THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION—it will save thousands of innocent lives.

❗❗A T T E N T I O N ! ❗❗Tokyo!

START THE PROCESS OF DERUSSIAZATION!—it will save thousands of innocent lives.

❗❗A T T E N T I O N ! ❗❗Moscow! Minsk!

RISE UP!—it will save thousands of innocent lives.

Though it won’t save those we have already lost. And it won’t save our forever broken souls.

x

This text was originally published on Bündnis internationaler Produktionshäuser and can be republished open access and online.

Category
War & Conflict
Subject
Ukraine, Art Activism

Nastia Teor (non-binary, s/he) is a Kyiv-based feminist, visual artist, independent graphic designer and volunteer. Their artistic, design, and activist practices are constantly overlapping. In their artworks s/he uses graphics, text, and video. Nastia is a member of komaxa collective and Room to Bloom and Avtonomi Akadimia community. Currently situated in Kyiv.

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