Yevhen Yashchuk is the co-organizer of the ‘Unissued Diplomas’ exhibition that’s placed in front of the library entrance of the University of Vienna. In this blogpost, he shares what the emotional exhibition is about and what you can expect.
University of Vienna presents “Unissued Diplomas,” an exhibition marking one year of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. The exhibition will be placed in front of the main university library entrance from 17 April to 28 April.
24 Unissued Diplomas
The exhibition features 24 diplomas issued posthumously to students from Ukraine who were killed by Russian aggression since February 24, 2022. They represent unfairly taken young lives whose dreams remained unfulfilled. Each diploma uncovers a personal story about an education, life goals, and changes in the past year of those who will never graduate. Some of the students sacrificed their studies and aspirations for the sake of their country, some died in the occupied territories, some became victims of Russian attacks on civil infrastructure. We created this exhibition to highlight the ongoing war and the price people in Ukraine pay daily for their freedom.
“They were folks of your age or even younger. They traveled, fell in love, supported others, and studied their favorite subjects.”
Stories to be heard
Every visitor can come to look at the diplomas and listen to the audio performance we created to give the students’ stories a chance to be heard. Visual and audio parts surround the viewers and make them feel the texts written in Ukrainian and English. They make the experience very individual, and the visitor is left face-to-face with the stories even though the exhibition is placed in a busy space. It gives a chance to listen to and commemorate those young people who were killed during the last year, but also it gives a chance to learn the stories of their lives, the stories which keep the memory about them with us. They were folks of your age or even younger. They traveled, fell in love, supported others, and studied their favorite subjects. Each of us can relate to these experiences, and yet learn about them from the diplomas of eternal students because the narrators cannot tell these stories themselves. We are the only ones who should tell them, read them, and think through them.
An International Project
The project was inspired by a similar exhibition organized in the Ukrainian city of Lviv last August, aiming to commemorate those students who lost their lives in the first months of the full-scale war. In January 2023, Ukrainian students from the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, who are now doing their exchange at the University of Toronto (Canada), decided to add a new dimension to it and bring the students’ stories to the university campuses worldwide. They collected stories of the young people who died because of Russian aggression and called for international cooperation. That is how the ‘Unissued Diplomas’ project was started, and in less than a month, they collected 36 stories and received responses from 45 institutions in 20 countries. With the support of the Union of Ukrainian Students in Canada, the initiators designed 36 diplomas and launched a website with all the stories in order to prolong the exhibition even after it ends in the physical spaces. Together with the details about the exhibition, they placed a fundraising campaign on the website to help those students who are close to the frontline. The project combined commemorative and charity parts uniting members of university communities from the USA to Australia and from Norway to India.
We brought the exhibition to Vienna and created an audio performance to add a new dimension to it. At first, the performance was presented at Central European University here, and later it was added to the locations in other places and the project’s website.
What to expect at the University of Vienna
Now we are bringing the exhibition to the University of Vienna to let the university community reflect on the experiences of the ongoing war and remember those whom we will never meet in our classes. We want people to think about the price of unprovoked aggression and the strong necessity to defend freedoms. The war is still going, and students in Ukraine still need our support. Other students did not have such a chance, but we would like to give them a chance to be commemorated. This is the least thing we, while studying in safe Austria, can do at this moment.
It takes more than one person to remember all these stories. That’s why we invite you to look at the Unissued Diplomas project. It is an exhibition that will touch your heart.
Come and learn.
Come and support us.
Come and commemorate.
Visit the website for more information on this exhibition.