Chased by conflict in Ukraine, an artist finds a haven in Helsinki

Spartak Khachanov in his studio with a model of a memorial he is creating for victims of the 1918 Finnish civil war. (Will Englund/The Washington Post)

By Will Englund and Kathy Lally, The Washington Post, November 2, 2019 at 10:13 a.m. EDT

HELSINKI — Let’s call them “figurines.” That’s the name their creator, Spartak Khachanov, delicately uses.

He made 400 of them. They got him expelled from the National Academy of Arts in Kyiv and inspired death threats from right-wing vigilantes that drove him and his wife, Anastasia, from Ukraine.

Finland beckoned. The Khachanovs found temporary asylum here earlier this year, thanks to the help of an organization called Artists at Risk. They now live and work in an old fortress on an island in Helsinki harbor.

About those figurines: Made of plaster, each about six inches long and decked out to look like missiles or military vehicles or officers saluting, they are unmistakable reproductions of the male organ. Khachanov made an installation with them a year ago that stretched down the hallways of the academy in Kyiv.

Read more here.

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