Winner of ‘Ukraine’s Got Talent’ gives Israel a sandy birthday present
In honor of Israel's 70th anniversary, Ukrainian artist Kseniya Simonova gifts the Jewish state with a dramatic 7-minute sand art story to the tune of Ofra Haza's 'Jerusalem'
Israel received countless notes, flowers, videos and social media shoutouts from around the world to mark its 70th year of independence, celebrated this week on the Gregorian calendar.
Now the birthday state can add “sand art film” to its thank you notes.
Kseniya Simonova, sand artist and past winner of “Ukraine’s Got Talent,” made a 7-minute film illustrated entirely through sand art images in tribute to the Jewish State. In a YouTube video, the artist continuously creates and re-creates images on an illuminated board to a soundtrack of of Ofra Haza’s iconic “Jerusalem.”
According to Simonova, the piece is meant to focus on the “pain and sorrow” of the Jewish people as it follows its narrative over the centuries through the eyes of a young boy.
Simonova’s hands nimbly move across the board in time with the music as she develops scenes beginning with the story of creation, moving through the Jewish people’s various exiles, the Holocaust and finally the victorious establishment of Israel in 1948.
When asked by The Times of Israel what inspired her to create the piece, Simonova, who is not Jewish, said over email, “My connection [to Israel] is my love [of] history.”
“I just read a lot and I deeply respect [the] Holy Land, though I [have] never performed or even been there,” she said.
Simonova’s career was launched on the international scene with her 2009 win on “Ukraine’s Got Talent,” which made her, according to The Telegraph, an “online sensation.” The artist’s winning performance told the story through sand images of how ordinary Ukrainians were impacted by World War II.
Simonova is currently collaborating with the Guy Mendilow Ensemble on “The Forgotten Kingdom” series, a project meant to revive forgotten Ladino melodies while telling stories from the Ottoman Empire’s final days through music, voice narration and sand images.