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  • Dror Margalit

Only Love Will Save Us

Created by Mary(ia) Markhvida, Neeti Sivakumar, and Dror Margalit

Today, people across the world continue to fight for basic human rights. Brave individuals lead and inspire protest movements, in many cases risking their freedom and lives for speaking out. This piece tells the story of Maria Kolesnikova, one of the three women who, in the summer of 2020, led the protest movement against longtime Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko after he rigged the presidential election in his favor. Following the elections, the two other women fled the country to find safety, but Maria remained in Belarus to lead the nation in its fight for freedom through peaceful and legal means. Shortly after the elections she was unjustly imprisoned and is now serving an 11 year sentence.

A video of the project's process

"Only Love Will Save Us" serves as a tribute to Maria and other political prisoners who sacrificed their freedom to retain their voice and stand up to dictatorships. In this interactive installation, one person will need to ‘sacrifice’ themselves to amplify and tell Maria’s story. They will volunteer to go inside of a dark human-sized box, representing a jail cell, where they will stay for a period of 1.5 minutes so that people on the outside can hear and see Maria’s story. When the person is inside of the box, an animation will be projected on the outside of the box for the audience to see. The video (made in Unity) includes Maria’s speech excerpts accompanied by an animation captured with Motion Capture. Throughout the story, Maria’s talks about the government’s attempts to turn people against each other through violence and imprisonment; she also urges people not to give into aggression, to support and love each other, and to rebuild the country with legal and peaceful means. The animation shows a person (i.e., a point cloud figure) who starts in a jail cell, but then walks out into a field of flowers (symbolic for Belarusian protesters). The animation ends with the figure back in the jail cell that is now covered with flowers – a symbol for Maria’s message and a shift of perspective in people’s minds.

While this piece features the story of Maria Kolesnikova, the message of oppression and continued fight for human rights and freedom is universal.

Images from the process:

3D image showing the style we are aiming for. Next, recreate the character and build its environment.

Recording motion capture.

Diagram of the box we are building to symbolize a jail cell, on which we will project the 3D animation.

The structure of the box.

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