Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Book Talk. Contemporary Ukrainian and Baltic Art: Political and Social Perspectives
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Please join the Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute for a presentation of the book Contemporary Ukrainian Art and Baltic Art: Political and Social Perspectives (ibidem Press, 2021). The event will feature presentations by the volume’s editor Svitlana Biedarieva and contributors Ieva Astahovska, Olena Martynyuk, and Margaret Tali with moderator Mark Andryczyk (Harriman Institute).

Contemporary Ukrainian Art and Baltic Art focuses on political and social expressions in contemporary art of Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. It explores the transformations that art in Ukraine and the Baltic states has undergone since their independence in 1991, discussing how the conflicts and challenges of the last three decades have impacted the reconsideration of identity and fostered resistance of culture against economic and political crises. The volume analyzes connections between the past and the present as seen by the artists in these countries and looks at their visions of the future. Contemporary Ukrainian art portrays various perspectives, addressing issues from controversial historical topics to the present military conflict in the East of the country. Baltic art speaks out against the erasure of past historical traumas and analyzes the pertinence of its cultural scene to the European community. The contributions in this collection open a discussion of whether there is a single paradigm that describes the contemporary processes of art production in Ukraine and the Baltic countries. With contributions by Ieva Astahovska, Svitlana Biedarieva, Kateryna Botanova, Olena Martynyuk, Vytautas Michelkevičius, Lina Michelkevičė, Margaret Tali, and Jessica Zychowicz.



Ieva Astahovska is an art scholar, critic and curator. She works at the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, where she leads research projects related to art and culture in socialist and postsocialist period, and entanglements between postsocialist and postcolonial perspective in the Baltics and Eastern Europe. She is interested in the exhibition histories in order to explore the complexities of cultural and artistic processes in the region. Astahovska has curated a number of exhibitions and has edited research-based publications including Valdis Āboliņš. The Avant-garde, Mailart, the New Left and Cultural Relations during the Cold War (2019), Workshop of Restoration of Unfelt Feelings: Juris Boiko and Hardijs Lediņš (2016), and Revisiting Footnotes: Footprints of the Recent Past in the Post-Socialist Region (2015). Her curatorial projects include, among others, the exhibitions Difficult Pasts. Connected Worlds at LNMM, Riga (2020) and Valdis Āboliņš or How Fluxus Came to Aachen at the Ludwig Forum, Aachen (2018).

Svitlana Biedarieva is an art historian and curator with a focus on Eastern European and Latin American art. She holds her PhD in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. In 2019-2020, she curated an exhibition At the Front Line. Ukrainian Art, 2013-2019 in Mexico and Canada. Her edited books include Contemporary Ukrainian and Baltic Art: Political and Social Perspectives, 1991-2021 (Stuttgart: ibidem Press, 2021) and At the Front Line. Ukrainian Art, 2013-2019 (Mexico City: Editorial 17, 2020, co-edited with Hanna Deikun). Biedarieva has taught at the University of the Americas Puebla, the Ibero-American University, the University of Anáhuac North, and the Courtauld.

Olena Martynyuk is an art historian with an interest in art theory and philosophy. Her research focuses on Ukrainian and Russian art from the late 20th century to the present. She graduated with a Ph.D. in art history from Rutgers University in January 2018. She is presently the Petro Jacyk Postdoctoral Research Scholar in Ukrainian Studies at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University.



Margaret Tali is an art historian, theorist and curator, who currently works as a Research Fellow at the Research Centre for Material Culture, National Museum of World Cultures in Leiden, the Netherlands. Her research deals with mediating difficult histories in visual art and curatorial practice, memory and trauma studies, intersections of postcolonialism and postsocialism in Baltic history, and histories of museums and collections. Tali is the author of the monograph Absence and Difficult Knowledge in Contemporary Art Museums (Routledge, 2018) and co-editor, with Ieva Astahovska of the Special Issue ‘Confronting Muted Memories: Reading Silences, Entangling Histories’ in Baltic Worlds (4/2020). As a curator she has initiated together with Astahovska the collaborative research, exchange and exhibition project Communicating Difficult Pasts (2019-2022).


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