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The Sound of W.


Vladyslava Denys is one of us. She is a mother. A working creative. A proud Ukrainian. We have gotten to know Slava from her work as President of the Art Directors Club of Ukraine. She is a highly talented creative leader and a passionate communicator. We are delighted to announce that she will be a judge for the 2022 ICAD Awards and we are honoured that she will be a keynote speaker at ICAD’s Creative Festival on the 8th and 9th of June. This is her vivid account of her flight from her homeland with her daughter. It is conveyed as an evocative soundscape of war. Listen carefully. The explosions are not very far away. 

Usually, we do not give much attention to the sounds. In advertising commercials they are important, but in everyday life, it is not that to which we pay much attention. For me, the war has transformed into the dramatic perception of sound. The sound became the main media, that informed me about events and managed my body and psyche.

On February, 24. I wake up at 5:40 in the morning to the sound of my smartphone. A sister calls me. In general, she never disturbs me at this time. I answer quickly. I understand that the war has begun here. This was what we did not believe, although we heard and read warnings of war for two months.

Sister’s voice is alarmed, dry, and bossy. She says that Kyiv is bombed and that their house is rocked by an explosion. My sister tells me to collect things, wake my daughter and cat, and go from the city. I switch on the TV and see a television tower is being bombed in Kharkiv. I feel like in a dream. I listen to reporting, and it seems, it is a movie. Within an hour we are gone from the city by car to I do not know where.

A village near the town of Vasylkiv has the heavy, intimidating sound of airplanes and bombardments. A military airport is nearby. Very quickly we study to distinguish sounds. What are ours from the hostile bombs and shelling. The local citizens on the first day of war saw ballistic rockets flying in the field and it was almost noiseless.

The sky grows into an oppressive loudspeaker. It whines at night, yells, champs, and howls. In the daytime, calmness. I cannot believe that night demons will get out soon from this good blue space. One night I hear something heavy flying nearby, and a loud explosion is heard. Above us, the Russian airplane is being shot down.

Ternopil. A quiet peaceful city is in Western Ukraine. We arrive when the sounds of the air-raid are already regularly heard. This warning is a reaction to drones’ movements, that stick out in the sky. It is not being bombed, but a city becomes nervous. It is some subconscious expectation of apocalypse. We live with a family of preachers with guitars who sing a song about war and God. Many texts are dedicated to the angels. I wonder if people hear when the angels fly? And maybe, they have the same quiet sound of flying like ballistic rockets?

Warsaw is full of human voices, the noise of cars and buses. Here at this time, one million refugees have arrived. The bus stops are overcrowded. There are Ukrainian flags on every tram. Yellow-blue colours are everywhere. On the streets, buildings, transport; on booths and shops. I become a part of the enormous stream of demonstrators with Ukrainian flags. Air sounds with the Ukrainian anthem. Scan the crowds. It looks like the atmosphere in a stadium during a grandiose soccer match. Unfortunately, it is not a game. Each evening Warsaw is tied down to smartphones with the news. Polish people hear war voices alongside refugees.

Copenhagen is quiet, friendly, full of the sounds of bicycles; the laughter of children that play football, and the screaming of gulls. People have heard about war here and support Ukrainians. But the war for them is somewhere far away and still part of stories and news.

Our sounds of war are always with us now, wherever we are. They are in my sudden cries at night, in telephone conversations with my daughter with her friends who remained in Kyiv. In the confused sound of our cat that is not yet used to the new place and sleeps on a suitcase.

I look at the peaceful sky of Copenhagen and I am nervous about the sound of every airplane. War voice is in my head.

Vladyslava Denys is one of the most experienced Creative Directors in Ukraine. She has led a highly successful creative team in Cheil Ukraine, a full-service communication agency, since 2013. 

Vladyslava has won many advertising awards and is a member of the board of directors at Art Directors Club of Europe. She has also served as a judge at the Clio Awards, LIA, ADC*E.