Daria Kolomiec
ESNS: 2023
Before the Russian invasion, Daria Kolomiec was a DJ and developer of music-­curation app MusiCures. But it wasn't until the full-scale russian invasion in Ukraine, when she found herself huddled in the basement of a café in Kyiv that doubled as a makeshift bomb shelter, that she found her new calling. Inspired by an impromptu sing-along of traditional Ukrainian songs with dozens of her neighbors, Kolomiec decided to dedicate MusiCures to Ukrainian music. She also began recording voice notes that would become her Diary of War podcast, which documents how the war has changed Ukrainian lives. Since March, she has published dozens of first-person accounts from across Ukraine, with captions in multiple languages. "I want these stories to be listened to worldwide," says Kolomiec. "When you have such huge pain, it's very important if someone listens to your story." Promoting Ukrainian culture is Kolomiec's personal front line in this war. In June, she traveled to New York City with a bag full of rare vinyl records to introduce Americans to Ukrainian artists such as Volodymyr Ivasyuk, who many Ukrainians believe was assassinated in 1979 by Soviet authorities. Then as now, Russia has been trying to quash Ukrainian identity, Kolomiec says. "It was repressed for centuries," she says. "Now I can share it with people, and they can love it too." During her trip, Daria played DJ sets of Ukrainian music at the New York LGBTIQ+ Pride, one of New York's iconic music venues Le Bain, and the famous independent radio station, The Lot Radio. The New York Times and other media made a story about her mission; for videos of protests in support of Ukraine, Instagram shadow-banned the DJ's account several times. Daria dared to go on such a mission in September for the second time. Since then, she managed to play Ukrainian music in midtown Manhattan and at a charity night in Toronto; the English translation of one of the stories from "Diary of War" was read publicly at the theater event by Naked Angels, an artistic community in New York that unites directors, writers, and actors. Another public readings were held by the NYC’s Yara Arts group.