Practicing Care: Solidarity Network of an Arts University

Press release
Szene aus dem Film "Courage", unzählige Demonstrierende auf einer Straße mit Belarusischen Flaggen | © Living Pictures Production
Since the summer semester of 2022, "Practicing Care" has also been the title of a long-term project at the Mozarteum University that focuses on the transnational social responsibility of an art university. The numerous new forms of protest and decentralized care networks that found expression in the activities of the Belarusian opposition in 2020, led primarily by women, were the inspiration for the design of the project format.
The willingness to help Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion on February 24 has impressively shown how much people can care and look after others, unknown and foreign people, even outside their immediate family and friendly environment. To Care has once again become the epitome of a humanity that can go far beyond personal and national boundaries. At the heart of 2022 is the awarding of an honorary professorship to one of the leading figures of the Belarusian opposition: to the flautist and educator Maria Kalesnikava - because of her courageous and encouraging commitment against arbitrary state power, torture, oppression and the violation of elementary human rights by an authoritarian regime, she was recently awarded the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen 2022 together with her fellow campaigners Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and Veronica Tsepkalo. Born in Minsk on April 24, 1982, Kalesnikava studied flute and conducting at the State Academy of Music in Minsk, then early and contemporary music at the Stuttgart University of Music and Performing Arts. She played in various ensembles, taught music in Belarus and Germany, worked on numerous transnational music projects, and in 2019 became artistic director of the cultural center "OK-16" in Minsk. In opposition to Lukashenko's regime, the musician and educator decided to temporarily exchange her flute for a megaphone and campaign for free elections and women's rights in Belarus: In an infamous criminal case, she was sentenced to eleven years of penal colony on September 6, 2021. "To remember hundreds of political prisoners in Belarus, but also in Russia and worldwide, to remind ourselves as teachers and students at an art university that art and politics, personal and social freedom and resistance to their oppression can never be treated as separate issues, the Senate of the Mozarteum University awarded Maria Kalesnikava an honorary professorship on March 11, 2022" , explains the Senate Chairman and Professor of Dramaturgy  Christoph Lepschy.