Ukrainian Art Now: Spaces of Identity

Nikita Shalenny, Where Is Your Brother?, 2013. Courtesy of Nikita Shalenny

Friday, 27 February 2015, 13.00 – 18.30 (with registration from 12.30)
Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art

Speaker(s): Konstantin Akinsha (Curator, New York, Guest Fellow Max Webber Koleg, Erfurt); Susanne Clausen (Artist, London); Pavlo Kerestey (Artist, London); Alisa Lozhkina (Curator and Editor-in-Chief of Art Ukraine, Kiev); Roman Minin (Artist, Kharkov); Nikita Shalenny (Artist, Dnepropetrovsk)

Ticket/entry details: £16 (£11 students, Courtauld staff/students and concessions)  BOOK ONLINE Or send a cheque made payable to ‘The Courtauld Institute of Art’ to: Research Forum Events Co-ordinator, Research Forum, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN, stating ‘Ukrainian Art symposium’. For further information, email

Organised by:  Svitlana Biedarieva and Klara Kemp-Welch (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Ukrainian Art Now: Spaces of Identity examines the cultural dimensions of the social reload that found its expression in the revolutionary Maidan events of November 2013-February 2014. Building on the unprecedented number of recent cultural events devoted to Ukrainian art worldwide (among others the touring exhibition I am a Drop in the Ocean: Art of the Ukrainian Revolution), our symposium brings together leading Ukrainian artists and curators to discuss identity, protest and the social legacies of contemporary Ukrainian art in relation to key political changes and cultural transformations.

Our main aim is to interrogate changes in the field of Ukrainian identity as these are being expressed in visual and conceptual terms. If, for decades, Ukraine lacked new symbols with which to integrate its two major language groups and to accommodate an expanded variety of cultural perspectives, the new mythologies emerging from the flames of the uprising suggest that Ukrainian culture is now breaking with the post-Soviet symbolic model, moving towards new forms of self-identification. Contemporary art’s enormous potential as a vehicle for representing and analysing these processes makes it a crucial point of reference for any consideration of current affairs in the region.

The symposium addresses the following questions: How have contemporary artists in Ukraine reacted to the social critique that caused the unrest, prompting radical social transformations? To what extent have artists been critical in their engagement with recent political tensions? What visions of internal and international relations have they proposed? We explore how artists have negotiated the trauma of recent violence, and consider how the doubts and hopes played out in the protests are being expressed in contemporary Ukrainian artistic practices.

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