Symposium May 31: The Collective Body Dismembered: Histories of Art, Identities and the War in Ukraine

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Announcing a symposium to be held at the National Gallery of Denmark on Tuesday, May 31, "The Collective Body Dismembered: Histories of Art, Identities and the War in Ukraine," which considers art in Ukraine today in relation to the Soviet past. The symposium will take place 9:30 am to 6 pm CET and will be livestreamed; see

Soviet Socialist Realist art imagined a collective body that represented the proletarian collective of socialism within the “fraternal” republics of the USSR. From the Comintern in the 1930s to the socialist internationalism of the Cold War, the Soviet Union also exported its image of the collective body across the world, as it collaborated culturally with socialist or socialist-leaning nations, including the de-colonizing nations of the global South. The current imperialist war of Russia against Ukraine is waged in the now cynical language of “brotherly nations” but signals the ruin of any vestiges of Soviet fraternalism or internationalism, and the dismemberment of the collective body.

This symposium is organized by artist Yvette Brackman (National Gallery of Denmark) and art historian Christina Kiær (University of Copenhagen and Northwestern University).

The program includes:

9:45 am  Histories of the Collective Body in Socialist Internationalism

  • Katia Denysova, Ph.D. candidate, The Courtauld Institute of Art: “From Neo-Byzantinism to Socialist Realism: Ukrainian Monumental Art of the Early Twentieth Century”
  • Michal Murawski, Lecturer, School of Slavonic Studies, University College London: “Corporeal Dismemberments of (Post-)Soviet Imperialism, Warsaw 1955/Moscow 2022” 
  • Maria Mileeva, Associate Lecturer, The Courtauld Institute of Art: “Soviet Cultural Collaborations with the Postcolonial World: Cairo-Moscow in the 1970s”
  • Ievgeniia Gubkina, Architect & architectural historian, NGO Urban Forms Center: “Taming the Modernist Body of Kharkiv through its Dismemberment, Reconstruction, Implantation and Destruction”


1 pm  Roundtable: Danish-Soviet Reflections

  • Tom Hermansen, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen: “Art for the Masses: Danish Mural Art of the Interwar Period”
  • Tania Ørum, Associate Professor Emerita, Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen: “USSR/DK: Transnational Art and Personal Relations”
  • Kristoffer Ørum, visual artist and researcher, “Putin’s Nose
  • Birgitte Beck Pristed, Associate Professor, Department of Global Studies, Aarhus University: “Soviet and Russian Child Performances of (In)human Alphabets”

2: 45 pm Art in Ukraine Now

  • Svitlana Biedarieva, Ibero-American University, Mexico City: “Decolonial Strategies in New Ukrainian art”
  • Olexii Kuchanskiy (s/he), independent researcher & film programmer, Kyiv, Ukraine: “Exodus from the Post-Soviet Condition: Artists' Cinema after the Maidan Revolution” (remotely from Kyiv)

4 pm  Ukrainian Artists Now

  • Maria Kulikovska/Garage 33
  • Dana Kavelina 
  • Nikita Kadan
  • AntiGonna