Fashion designer Giorgio Armani

Architects, designers and cultural institutions show solidarity with Ukraine

Fashion designer Giorgio Armani, the curators of the Russian pavilion at this year's Venice Art Biennale and the International Union of Architects are among a growing number of individuals and institutions to show support for Ukraine following Russia's invasion last week.

In response to the conflict, Armani held his recent catwalk show at Milan Fashion Week in silence.

"What could I do?" Armani said following the show, according to the Evening Standard. "I could only signal my heartbreak for the tragedy through the silence."

"I didn't want to show music," he continued. "The best thing is to give a signal that we're not happy, but to recognise something disturbing is happening. I think the clothes became even more powerful through the silence."

V-A-C Foundation suspends public program

Meanwhile, Moscow-based cultural institution V-A-C Foundation said it "cannot turn a blind eye to the tragic events" and was suspending programs at its recently completed, Renzo Piano-designed Moscow building.

"As an institution, GES-2 House of Culture cannot turn a blind eye to the tragic events we have all become witnesses to," it said.

"In solidarity and respect to our visitors, employees, and the artists' choice we will close all current exhibitions and suspend all events in the public programme."

The institution was among a growing number of architects, designers and groups to act in solidarity with Ukraine following Russia's invasion of the country, which began on 24 February.

Russia Pavilion "will remain closed"

Lithuanian curator Raimundas Malasauskas, along with Russian artists Alexandra Sukhareva and Kirill Savchenkov,  announced that they were resigning from creating the Russia Pavilion at the upcoming Venice Art Biennale.

"I cannot advance working on this project in the light of Russia's military invasion and bombing of Ukraine," Malasauskas wrote on Instagram. "This war is politically and emotionally unbearable."

The move means that "the Russian Pavilion will remain closed" at this year's event, confirmed the Russian Federation Pavilion.

UIA expresses "unwavering solidarity"

Architecture institutions the International Union of Architects (UIA) and Architects' Council of Europe (ACE) also issued statements to express solidarity with Ukraine.

"In the face of the mounting tragic events in Ukraine, the International Union of Architects (UIA) expresses its unwavering solidarity with all those affected and calls for unity and peace among nations," said UIA president José Luis Cortés.

"On behalf of the international community of architects, we condemn any act of violence or war affecting the well-being and dignity of humans, join the global appeal against war and call for the immediate restoration of peace."

"We believe that support for each other among architects in Europe is fundamental, both for the development of our organisations in times of peace and in the event that one of us is affected by a crisis," said ACE president Ruth Schagemann.

"We declare our support to the National Union of Architects of Ukraine and its members in this difficult time."

"We condemn these violent acts"

The designers and collaborators behind the recently complete Babyn Yar Synagogue in Ukraine, including architect Manuel Herz, photographer Iwan Baan and ArchDaily founder David Basulto, also condemned the invasion.

"As individuals working with the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center to memorialize the tragic events that unfolded 80 years ago in Kyiv during the Nazi Holocaust by Bullets, we are profoundly saddened and distraught to see Ukraine again being invaded and its people again being attacked for who they are, and what they believe in," the group said in a statement.

"During world war two, the Ukrainian and Russian peoples – Christians, atheists, Jews, Muslims, and others – fought together against the Nazi menace," it continued.

"This solidarity helped to save the world at that time. The current invasion throws a terrible shadow on this history. We condemn these violent acts and the eight-year war that preceded them, and refuse to allow them to impede or prevent our work of memorialization."

As Russian forces invaded architects and designers in Ukraine were forced to shut their studios, pause their projects and seek shelter or flee their country. Several spoke to Dezeen last week including Angelika Garusova, who runs Ukraine's Art Space interior awards.

"Putin, like Hitler, declared war at 4 am and an hour later began shelling," she said. "We decided to leave Kyiv. I'm afraid nothing good awaits Ukraine in the near future."

The main image of Armani is by Jan Schroeder.