… Courage. It takes courage to dissent even in the best of circumstances. In the worst, it takes unfathomable fortitude. Abraham Lincoln said, “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is going forward with the face of fear.” For me (and many others who know him), Minsk-born Moscow-based designer, KAK editor and educator Peter Bankov’s work continues to prove he is worthy of deep admiration, respect and love.
Last October he wrote in an email, “In Russia, there are now repressions on the subject of LGBT. People get up to five years in prison for ‘propaganda.’ A friend of mine got a sentence in prison for posting a Rammstein clip. Terrible times.”
A week before the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, I cautiously resumed our intermittent correspondence (unsettling silence punctuated Peter’s responses).
Steve: These are difficult days. I hope you are well. I want to know whether you have any posters or other imagery that you’ve done on the Ukraine invasion so that I [can] do a story. I know this might be difficult at this time, but if you have been working on anything, I’d like to give you an opportunity to show it.
Peter: I am very glad to hear from you. Of course, I have posters on the theme of the war with Ukraine. I’ll collect them tomorrow and send them to you. This is a great grief for us and my family.
Steve: I know how hard it must be. It is tragic from here.
Peter: My family and I took in a family of refugees from Ukraine. In the past days, my wife and I helped them to … somehow socialize this family. Thank you for remembering me.
Steve: By publishing these on my blog, do I place you in danger?
Peter: … Please, publish my posters. I have already earned my time in the Gulag. It’s not scary to live anymore.