A series of portraits of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and First Lady Olena Zelenska taken by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz for a digital issue of vogue caused dissent around the world. Zelensky – who during Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February was reportedly met with offers to evacuate with the line “I need ammunition, not a round” – is pictured in his typical outfit of a drab olive T-shirt and matching fatigues snuggling his wife into the presidential compound in Kyiv. Zelenska, wearing clothes attributed to various Ukrainian designers, appears solo on the digital “cover” as well as alongside female Ukrainian soldiers at Antonov Airport in the kyiv suburb of Hostomel in front of the wreckage of the Antonov-AN 225, the largest aircraft in the world. , which was destroyed by Russian forces early in the campaign.
The photo shoot drew the ire of Republicans in particular. “While we’re sending $60 billion in aid to Ukraine, Zelensky is doing photo shoots for Vogue magazine. These people think we’re nothing but a bunch of suckers,” tweeted Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado. Biden: Let’s keep sending billions of dollars in foreign aid to Ukraine, they need it! tweeted Representative Mayra Flores of Texas. (The Daily Mail noted that there is no evidence that any of the $60 million allocated to Ukraine to date by the Biden administration was used to fund the filming.)
The images also raised hedgehogs from the art and literary worlds, prompting sardonic responses from writers. Zoe Samudzi and Greg Allen on Twitter. “It’s all that’s wrong with the world and how dangerously photography can intersect in it,” artist Adam Broomberg wrote in a viral Instagram post. “The idea of a conflict zone as a backdrop for an @annieleibovitz shoot for @voguemagazine is vile. . . Somehow, deep down inside me, I think these images confirm our need for an understanding binary of the world as good and evil, of an outmoded model of male heroes with their female enablers.
However, not everyone was dismayed. “Put aside the absolutely crazy idea that a world leader can’t meet celebrities in the midst of a global crisis – a notion that the ghosts of Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt would, in all likelihood, dispute,” he said. writes Sonny Bunch in the Washington Post. “Let’s be real,” he continued dryly. “Zelensky meets Western celebrities and appears in celebrity-oriented magazines because that’s the only way to keep the crisis in his country at the forefront of the minds of the American public.”