Written by Fiona Sinclair Scott, Jacqui Palumbo, Leah DolanOscar Holland, CNN
If 2021 was a tentative return to in-person gatherings and social events, then 2022 felt like a more confident reinstatement of life as we knew it. The most intense years of the Covid-19 pandemic are, in many parts of the world, fading from view, though there has been no shortage of major news events to keep us on edge.
Between the war in Ukraine, the overturning of the 1973 Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in the US, extreme weather cases — from severe floods to unprecedented heatwaves — human rights protests in Iran and global economic uncertainty, the world was no less complicated in 2022 and art, fashion and culture were further solidified as both important avenues of expression and necessary distractions.
Scroll down as we look back on some of the year’s most memorable cultural moments and themes.
Culture in conflict
One of England-based street artist Banksy’s seven murals featured a gymnast on the wall of an apartment building destroyed by Russian troops, Borodianka, Kyiv Region, northern Ukraine. Credit: Oleksandra Butova/Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images
When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the country’s artistic and cultural heritage was immediately under threat. Members of the public and cultural sector rushed to protect museums and monuments from attack, placing sandbags around monuments in cities across the country. Several of Maria Prymachenko’s paintings, a 20th-century self-taught artist and icon of Ukrainian national identity, were thought to be destroyed after a museum in her native region of Ivankiv was attacked by Russian forces. But while some art was tragically lost, new works— such as seven murals by Banksy — carrying messages of resilience were created. Against all odds, Ukraine still took part in the Venice Biennale in April — displaying Pavlo Makov’s “Fountain of Exhaustion” — an installation made from 78 bronze funnels that split a single stream of water until its flow weakened to a trickle.
Speaking to CNN at the fair, Ukrainian art curator Maria Lanko said she believed “art has this symbolic potential to celebrate people’s lives and to show that we are still here — to show that Ukraine isn’t just a war victim.”
Elsewhere in the world, artists utilized their craft to rebel against governments and their respective policies. In October, 28-year-old art school graduate, Zhisheng Wu, took to Times Square in New York cocooned inside 27 layered hazmat suits to critique China’s relentless zero-Covid policy. “I want to use it as a metaphor for each Chinese individual being drowned in the political torrent,” he said.
Eyes on Iran
Artist Alexandro Palombo created a mural depicting Marge Simpson cutting her hair in protest against Iran and the murder of Mahsa Amini in front of the Consulate of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Credit: AGF/Universal Images Group
In September, hair became integral to political protest, as demonstrators all over the world cut theirs to speak out against the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who died in Iran’s capital Tehran after being arrested …….