Svitlana Biedarieva - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Svitlana Biedarieva

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Svitlana Biedarieva

PhD student

Thesis: ‘Challenging the Legacies of the Olympics: Cultural Afterlives of Mexico 68 and USSR 80’

Supervised by Dr Klara Kemp-Welch

Funded by Courtauld Scholarship

The research “Challenging the Legacies of the Olympics: Cultural Afterlives Mexico ’68 and USSR ’80” focuses on the impact of the mega-event of the Olympic Games on the development of art practices in Mexico in 1968 and in the USSR in 1980. Mexico and the USSR are considered as two polar points marking the process of global expansion of the Olympic Games since the early 1960s. The Olympic events were followed by an inner process of sociocultural transformation. The research challenges the symbolic expression of national identity and international relations and its impact on the development of the post-Olympic cities.

While the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico marked the attempts of creation of a new Mexican “mirage” on the international arena, the explosion of the student protests threatened to undermine the legacies of the successful self-representation of the country. At the same time, new aesthetics of protest art was developed in Mexico City. In 1980, Olympic Moscow appeared as a city of the void, as both official events of the Games were subverted by the international boycott, and, at the same time, unofficial art was “pushed out” to the suburban margins. The research focuses on the two parallel models of the relationship between centre and periphery in the dialogue “official art – underground art.”


  • 2013 to present: PhD History of Art, Courtauld Institute of Art
    Supervisor: Dr Klara Kemp-Welch, Prof. Sarah Wilson (2013-2014).
  • 2012−2013: MA History of Art, Courtauld Institute of Art
    Special option: Countercultures: Alternative Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America in 1953-1991
    Tutor: Dr Klara Kemp-Welch
  • 2009−2011: MA Semiotics, University of Tartu, Estonia
    Master’s thesis: Semiotic Characteristics of Interaction between an Artwork, an Artist and a Viewer in the Context of an Urban Street
    Supervisor: Dr Silvi Salupere
  • 2005−2009: BA Social Work (major in Sociology), National University ‘Kyiv-Mohyla Academy’, Ukraine


  • Jan-Jun 2017: Visiting Lecturer, Department of History of Art, University of the Americas Puebla, Mexico;
  • Oct-Nov 2014: Teaching Assistant, MA Core Methodology course, Courtauld Institute of Art;
  • Apr-Jun 2012: Visiting Lecturer, School of Languages, University of Anahuac North, Mexico City.

Research interests

  • Eastern European art
  • Mexican art
  • Art in urban space
  • Visual semiotics
  • Art and politics
  • Soviet art

Conference papers and lectures

  • 3 Mar 2018: Lecture “The Salón Independiente 1968: The Making of the Independent Art Scene in Mexico”, Ibero-American University, Mexico City, Mexico
  • 19 Oct 2016: Lecture “Art, Power, and Cultural Exchange in Latin America”, Universidad de las Americas de Puebla (UDLAP), Puebla, Mexico
  • 8 Mar 2016: Paper “Moscow 1980: the City and the Void”, Symposium “Showcasing New Research”, Courtauld Institute of Art, London, UK
  • 7 June 2015: Paper “Performance/ Performativity in Ukrainian Art: From Maidan to Biennale”, Platform Ukraine Conference, SEESS, University College London
  • 1 May 2015: Paper “The 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico: Art, Sport, and Massacre”, Conference “Power and Change in the Americas in the Modern Era”, Institute of the Americas, University College London
  • 10 Apr 2015: Paper “Seven Plus Infinity: Ukrainian Art from Avant-garde to Underground”, Association of Art Historians Annual Conference 2015, University of East Anglia, Norwich
  • 8 Apr 2015: Paper “Quetzalcoatl Doing the Op Art Twist: 1968 and the Branding of Mexican Modernity”, Branding Latin America Conference, University of Cambridge
  • 9 Mar 2015: Paper “Going Outside the Cactus Curtain: from Muralism to La Ruptura”, Modern and Contemporary Research Forum Seminar, Courtauld Institute of Art
  • 8 May 2014: Paper “Body and the State”, Panel Discussion “From Stalin to Sochi”, Calvert 22 Gallery, London
  • 3 Apr 2014: Paper “Challenging the Urban Legacies of the Olympics: Mexico City 1968-1994 and Moscow 1980-1991”, Society for Latin American Studies, 50th Anniversary Conference, Birkbeck, London

Recent publications

  • “Boichukism: Project of the “Grandiose Art Style””, Revue Critique D´Art, University of Rennes 2, Spring 2019
  • “Cuauhtémoc Medina. Portrait of the Curator of the 12th Shanghai Biennale”, Revue Critique D´Art, University of Rennes 2, Spring 2019
  • “Mexico 1968 – Beginning of the Age of Discrepancies: Interview with Cuauhtémoc Medina about Mexico 68”, Art Margins Online
  • “The Street Artist as Translator”, in Space and Culture (Sage Publishing), first published on July 28, 2015, doi:10.1177/1206331215579752
  • “Reflections in the Umwelten”, in Hortus Semioticus, #6 (2010), Special Issue: Semiotics of Nature.
  • Exhibition reviews:
    • Xavier Le Roy at the Jumex Museum (in Spanish), La Tempestad, No. 140, November 2018
    • To Inhabit the Modernism: Leonor Antunes in Mexico (in Spanish), Revista Código, 12 June 2018
    • Mexico: Reactive Painting (in Spanish), Revista Código, 29 May 2018
    • The Importance of Havana’s First Alternative Biennial for the Cuban Art Scene, Hyperallergic, 25 May 2018
    • Mario Pani: Architecture in Process (in Spanish), Revista Código, No. 96, December-January 2016/2017
    • Isaac Julien, Playtime/ Kapital: Are We All Capitalists? (in Spanish), Revista Código, 27 Sep 2016
    • Fragile Modernity: Brazilian Art at the MUNAL (in Spanish), La Tempestad, 4 Aug 2016
    • Breaking the Ice: Moscow Art, 1960-80s. London Student, Issue 7, Jan 2013
    • Giuseppe Penone: Spazio di Luce. Courtauld Reviews, Issue 12, Nov 2012.

Other academic activity

  • 27 Feb 2015: Organizer, Symposium “Ukrainian Art Now: Spaces of Identity”, Courtauld Institute of Art.

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