Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

A Russian Artist Who Doesn't Hide Behind Words

Courtesy of Vladimir Kuznetsov

Vladimir Kuznetsov is an artist who protests in his work in Russia today. A former journalist and activist in Penza, a city about 600 km (325 miles) to the southwest of Moscow, he is now working on a storytelling project called “1,000 Faces — 1,000 Words.”

“I had different motivations for starting the project, and one of them was that I’d had amnesia in 2019. To get out of a state of emptiness I had to remember my life and memories anew. Remembering was very frightening and painful, but for this reason, the issue of memory is important to me. It is very revealing what people remember, and what place love occupies in their lives. To parents, to relatives, to the world, to oneself,” Vladimir Kuznetsov told The Moscow Times.

										 					Courtesy of Vladimir Kuznetsov
Courtesy of Vladimir Kuznetsov

When he was working on his earlier project “100 People Answer Questions,” he saw that people needed the same things, only they called them by different names, and sometimes they didn’t share their wishes with the people closest to them. They might need love and peace of mind but couldn’t ask for it. “The ‘1,000 Faces — 1,000 Words’ project is my way to find inner reconciliation. Internal reconciliation is extraordinarily important and relevant, especially in the current situation, because crippled souls need to be healed.”

For this project, Vladimir Kuznetsov talks to different people, asking them about the same questions, and then publishes their stories on social media. He tries to write down not only what people said, but also what they didn’t say. To some extent these stories are partly about him, because he tries to understand himself and his place in life through them.

One day he spoke with Kristina from Dnepr, who talked about how the war in Ukraine had changed her life. She began to live just for today, save money for some terrible event that night occur and feel guilty about people forced to flee Mariupol, Zaporozhye and other places. And she stopped speaking to relatives in Russia. She asked Vladimir why he decided to get involved and express his opinions about the war. “Once you betray yourself, it’s hard to be alone,” he said.

										 					Courtesy of Vladimir Kuznetsov
Courtesy of Vladimir Kuznetsov

At present there are about 140 stories. Vladimir Kuznetsov plans to divide the 1,000 stories into three parts and release them as books, although he first needs to secure additional funding. He would also like to turn each story into a painting that he “lets his neural network” create. Then he’d like to exhibit them, but that will take time.

Vladimir says his stories are not about the war. They are about love. “Sometimes it seems to me that if there was not a war, it wouldn’t change this work. I wouldn’t want the war to be the essence – the leitmotif — or the main idea of my project. War is terrifying and insane, but it is not forever. All wars eventually end. And people will need to heal their souls. I believe that art can help with this. Art must not be silent.”

										 					Courtesy of Vladimir Kuznetsov
Courtesy of Vladimir Kuznetsov

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more