Going on Assignment in Prague July 2023 – July 8, 2023
Tribute to Ukrainian Mothers Evokes Range of Opinions in Central Prague
By Diana Dalton and Caroline Mueller
A Czech artist has created a ghastly sculpture hanging between two buildings over Dlouhá Street featuring a woman’s form adorned in a traditional Ukrainian headdress that became a symbol of resistance during Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan Revolution.
Veronika Psotkova’s wrought wire sculpture – Vinok – offers a tribute to mothers affected by Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, which caused millions of mainly women and children refugees to flee.
“It was clear at that time that the war will be much longer… and the atmosphere in our country started to change,” said Psotkova.
Psotkova said she wanted to use her art to show support for Ukrainians since the war began but struggled with finding the time to complete her vision based on a Vinok — the traditional Ukrainian headdress worn by unmarried women as a symbol of celebration, nature, and peace.
“It’s an artistic way to say that we know the war is real and it’s happening,” said Pstokova. “That we should remember the reason we have so many people from the east coming here to our country, and that we are a part of Ukraine’s fight for their nation.”
Russia’s invasion has renewed the Vinok as a symbol of Ukrainian resilience and unity and something Psotkova made central to the work of art now on display.
While not all passersby knew the significance of the sculpture, 32-year-old Noor Taher from Dubai described it as a powerful work that he hopes will show Ukrainians the support they have in Czechia.
“I think it’s great to have such an art piece in the middle of the city to symbolize that there’s something going on, so that we don’t forget about it,” said Taher. “It’ll make (Ukrainians) feel recognized and empowered. Also that they’re not facing this alone, that even artists are worried about them.”
For Ukrainians like Matej, 12, and Dasha, 14, who fled their hometown of Kharkiv in March, the sculpture reinforced the warm welcome they have received in Prague as refugees and support from the Czech people.
“Save Ukraine, please,” Dasha said.
Prague resident Veronika, 29, believes Czechs empathize with Ukrainians because of Czechia’s experience of the Russian invasion thirty years ago. She believes this is why the members of the Czech community are so willing to help.
Many people saw the sculpture as a kind gesture, but some belief efforts to show support could be made in more impactful ways.
“I feel art is important, but in the case of Ukraine maybe you should use the money you spend on that on donating stuff instead, because this doesn’t really spread any awareness,” Danish visitor Ida Toft, 19, said.
The sculpture will remain on display for the remainder of the summer.
The original version of the story was published by Prague Morning on July 20, 2022.