Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Art of History

The Art of History

            During my final two years in the International Baccalaureate program, I created a collection of artworks as an exploration of recent Czech history. This allowed me to not only learn about my own heritage, but also to gain confidence and grow as an artist. Here is my collection, with explanations to go along with each piece.

                This was my first piece, created at a time when I had no solid idea of what theme my collection would ultimately take on. I mainly focused on trying to convey the woman’s emotions; I pictured her looking back at her life, reflecting on all the struggles as well as all the joys. Metaphorically, I wanted to look back at the history of the Czech Republic and show those memories through my art.

by Ena Barisic
The Center for European Studies had hosted a roundtable discussion talk, “Russian Politics, History, and Culture,” with Stuart Finkel, Dragan Kujundzic, Bryon Moraski, and Eugene Huskey. Each professor included their own topic that ties in Russia’s growing tension towards those who oppose their aggression.

Professor Finkel began the discussion by showing a video entitled “I am a Russian Occupant”. The main point presented was Russia creating advantages for the countries that they took over.  Once they left said countries, such as the Baltics, the Balkans, and Ukraine, they faced many failures. This video supported his point that historical examples have been used to explain the tensions between Russia and the West, along with Russia’s reasoning for staying in power.

Professor Huskey mentioned the impacts of “Putin’s Russia” on nationalism and foreign involvement. This involved impacts such as fixed elections, a totalitarian-type government, and a strict political party that he controlled. Putin has held positions in office since 1998, becoming a Prime Minister, President and finally Leader of his party, United Russia.  Russia’s lack of labor requires immigrant workers from Europe and Asia. By the time that the youth become adults, over 30% are classified as Russian Muslims.  From this, Putin desires to create a Euro-Asian Union, similar to the European Union. The Union would serve as a tool to strengthen their trade with their neighbors. One of the countries targeted is Khuzestan, whose president is not on board with the plan. This brings up some reasons why Putin’s reign of power will not end soon: Russian’s classification of a global power, Russian elite’s support, and Putin’s election success.

Professor Moraski and Kujunzic illustrate the influence of Russian culture on the elections. Most Russian elections are won by the party holding over 30% of the votes; Putin’s party obtains between 50 to 70% of votes. Even when other parties are involved, almost every county is participating in voting. This implies a notion of “Putin’s authoritarianism” which includes him needing an image of invincibility, regional strong holds, adding new regions for legitimacy, and more time gaps in between elections.

All in all, these arguments present possible explanations for Russia’s reaffirmation of the lack of desire for change. They have a long history of being belligerent and dominant. Thus, creating the current tension with the West.