Performer uses Instagram to revive poet Taras Shevchenko for modern generation

                    Performer uses Instagram to revive poet Taras Shevchenko for modern generation

A performer and impersonation artist from Kyiv has created an Instagram profile for Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine’s most famous poet, where he posts photos and captions them either with sarcastic statements or quotes from Shevchenko’s poems.

A performer and impersonation artist from Kyiv is taking a novel approach to bringing the spirt and works of Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine’s most famous poet, to a modern audience: Instagram.

In a series of light-hearted, satirical videos and photos, the unidentified man — whose bald pate and walrus-like mustache give him a striking resemblance to the poet — wanders Ukraine, tries sushi, and even comments on politics.

“The first national kobzar of Ukraine. Influencer. 205 years old,” reads the profile of Instagram user “Shev_che.” A kobzar is a travelling Ukrainian bard or poet.

Taras Shevchenko, a literary icon and political figure, was born in central Ukraine in 1814. He gained prominence as a poet, writer, artist and political philosopher who played an instrumental role in the creation of modern Ukrainian.

From early childhood, Ukrainians learn Shevchenko’s poems by heart, and his writings are associated with Ukrainian culture all over the world.

Writing his works at the peak of the Russian Empire’s power, Shevchenko faced political persecution and was eventually convicted for writing in the Ukrainian language and for mocking the czar’s family.

Since then, he’s apparently come a long way. Within two weeks of joining Instagram, Shevchenko has attracted more than 12,000 followers and hundreds of comments.

The account’s extravagant creator does not give his real name and calls himself only Kobzar.

He posts funny photos every day and captions them either with sarcastic statements or with famous quotes from Shevchenko’s poems.

Переглянути цей допис в Instagram

Коли я зробив цей автопортрет, я і гадки не мав, що він буде на гривнях. Хто б сказав раніше – домалював би собі коня та блискавки позаду. #shevagram #shev_che #instakobzar #шеваграм #інстакобзар

Допис, поширений Тарас Шевченко (@shev_che)

The first Instagram post shows viewers the resurrection of Shevchenko near Kaniv, the site where the real poet was buried. After that, the revived Shevchenko picks up a smartphone dropped by a startled tourist and starts his adventures in modern Ukraine, encountering and analyzing social and cultural differences, as well as political problems.

He encounters eternal Ukrainian issues like bad roads and experiments with Snapchat filters.

On arriving in eastern Zaporizhia, Shevchenko wonders: “How could the descendants (of Cossacks) in glorious Zaporizhia massively vote for Tsar’s godfather?” The joke refers to Ukrainian businessman and politician Viktor Medvedchuk, one of the leaders of the pro-Russian Opposition Platform – For Life party, who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The modern-day Shevchenko’s posts are saturated with irony and sometimes even mockery: “I was an Instablogger long before Facebook made serfs out of you all,” says one of his posts. The real Shevchenko was born into serfdom. A famous Russian painter bought his freedom in 1838.

On his feed, the modern Shevchenko also posted a photo in which he holds a one hundred-hryvnia bill that features the famous poet and artist’s self-portrait. He jokes: “When I made this self-portrait, I had no idea that it would be put on the bill. If someone had told me that before, I’d have drawn a horse and some flashes of lightning behind me.”

The account is growing more and more popular every day, even though the author of the project remains a mystery and seldom gives any interviews.

However, in a comment to Voice of America’s Ukrainian service, he said: “I came back to open people’s eyes to the course of things and make them think critically. So much has happened during these 150 years that I need time to figure it all out. And you too. Look at everything from different angles and then form your opinion. This is my advice and my mission.”


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