After several discussions, we decided yesterday that we will put the Russia Focus that we had planned for May 2022 on hold. We had great artists, venues and initiatives in the line-up. We wanted to build a cultural bridge, beyond prejudices, with enough safe space for critical, queer and endangered voices.

Reasons for this decision were manifold – it never was to sanction Russian artists. Rather the opposite, it was about the security of our guests of which some are quite critical. Logistics are also becoming more complicated by the hour. After the attack by the Russian army, our sponsors for the planned special inlay with the weekly newspaper “der Freitag” withdrew their offers, for reasons we can understand, making the project and its connected exhibition impossible to carry out.

Looking at Ukraine and speaking with Ukrainian artists made it clear to us that in the face of war, flight and trauma, it would be irresponsible and inappropriate to hold on to this part of our programming for the festival.

We want to attempt to restart in autumn. We hope, of course, for Ukraine and a free Russia, that a permanent and peaceful solution will be found fast.

Dominik Heilig
Curator of the Russian focus
Comic artist and designer,
lived in Moscow from 2003-2010