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Behind the Poster: “There is nothing scarier than unlimited power in the hands of a limited man”

On Park Leopold Day, 10 September 2022, the House of European History organised guided tours of the When Walls Talk! temporary exhibition, led by artists from Ukraine, Romania and Slovenia, who were involved in the creation of the artworks. Read the story behind their poster.

By Zakentiy Horobyov, graphic designer, typographer and illustrator, Kyiv, Ukraine

Тhis work was created after the full-scale war in Ukraine had begun. My building has 35 floors; after the war, almost no one remained. For example, I was the only one who was left on my floor.

My family and I decided not to go anywhere. Because we have already lost one house. The war for us and the 8 million people who lived in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions began in 2014. So I stayed.

I thought, how can I help in this situation? And I decided to make posters that will help people look at the situation more positively, to remind them that there are many of us and we are fighting. Not only at the front, but also at the back, not only with weapons but also with art! To paraphrase the philosopher René Descartes: if I form meanings, then I exist. And I am not alone because my people speak through me.

We have a phrase: is the crown on the eyes? They say this when someone crosses the line, misbehaves, and ignores others. It may seem that the central figure in the poster is some abstract person, but it is Putin is depicted on it. The small grey figure is rasterised like a newspaper because, like any dictator, he is detached from the world and human lives.

He lives in the illusion of his impunity. He believes he does everything right, regardless of death and broken human destinies. Using the principles of a petty thief, it seems to him that equality is a weakness. Impunity and the KGB background made Putin a tyrant who lives in an illusion, thinking that he can do whatever he wants with our world.

The text for the poster — “There is nothing scarier than unlimited power in the hands of a limited man” — was found on Facebook. This is a quote from the native Ukrainian poet Vasyl Symonenko. Of course, the phrase is philosophical, but it hits the mark. Vasyl Symonenko was killed by the police at the age of 28. No one was ever punished for this.

Poster credit: There is nothing scarier than unlimited power in the hands of a limited man, Zakentiy Horobyov, 2022


Poster - President with crown of words
People in museum listening to artist