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Which personality sets a special sign for truthfulness and humanity in current world events with her work? That was the question that finally led us to the work of Katja Petrovskaya, a Kyiv author who has lived in Berlin since the late 1990s.The focus of her literary work is human dignity, and her approach is a very personal one: the stories in Maybe Esther (Vielleicht Esther) (2014), written in a rather fragmentary style, are on the one hand a search for traces of her own origins, and on the other hand reflections on the eventful history of her country.

Deutsches Theater Aussenansicht
Deutsches Theater Aussenansicht Arno Declair

Her columns, written over several years for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung and published as a book in Selection 2022, leave much room for association: "The Photo Looks at Me." An idiosyncratic combination of images and texts that awakens our sensitivity for the cultural identity of her country - a country that for a long time was not even perceived by us as a European democratic country. A work in progress.

Without Katja Petrovskaya's multifaceted commitment, we would know far less about Ukraine. In 2004, during the Orange Revolution, she initiated the Kyiv Talks, a German-Ukrainian platform that today supports local democracy processes in Ukraine. In 2013-2014, she was one of the important voices for the Maidan in Kiev. Her public word has greatly contributed to the perception of Ukrainian society as an acting subject.

Listening to her means recognizing how little we here in Germany know about Ukraine, its history and culture.Today, this society, its culture, the entire country, is exposed to Putin's will to destroy it. At rallies, in panel discussions, talk shows, interviews and articles, Katja Petrowskaja speaks about what is at stake in Ukraine in order to stop the habituation to war and its terrible images. In the process, she also sharpens our view of Russia, of the freedom-minded peaceful people there, many of whom have had to leave the country. Katja Petrowskaja is an enlightenment in the best sense of the word, in which she confronts people in this country who are insufficiently informed with her clear judgment based on experience.

Art, as the "daughter of freedom," has a special significance in this epochal turn. Katya Petrovskaya, with her determination, with her artistic power, is a sensitive, thoughtful and forceful voice. We would like to thank her. In his 1955 speech on Schiller, Thomas Mann speaks of "man's saving reverence for himself." This is what guides Katya Petrovskaya, what she burns for.

(Program in German)

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Additional information
The 'Gerhart and Renate Baum Foundation' awards the Human Rights Award to the author Katja Petrowskaja
Deutsches Theater Berlin - Kammerspiele