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The Humanity Dialogues

In the face of tragedy, there comes a time when any semblance of future is deemed impotent. Stripped of the ability to calibrate or anticipate cause and effect, we face ourselves naked, humble, and without pretense. In the void of any ability to configure, to draft, to fathom, we reflect on human integrity, individuality, collective responsibility, and their preservation amid the dissolution of the tenets of a civilized way of life. In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, The Humanity Dialogues is a series of events that reflect on contingency as existence and address art and politics critically intertwined within societies at war. 

The series is moderated by Marta Kuzma.

MARTA KUZMA is a Professor of Art at and the former Dean of the Yale School of Art. She is also the former Chancellor of the Royal Academy of Arts in Stockholm, Sweden. Kuzma arrived in Kyiv in 1990 to found the Soros Center for Contemporary Art where she remained as director through 2000. Kuzma has curated numerous exhibitions including Alchemic Surrender in the Crimean port of Sevastopol in 1994. Her curatorial and academic practice centers around the art’s position within the larger economic and political landscape as reflected in her postgraduate research in aesthetics and art theory from the Center for Research in Modern European Philosophy in London.

Each event in the series is introduced by Molly Brunson, Associate Professor, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Department of the History of Art and Director of the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Program of the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University. 

This series is organized and supported by REEES: The Yale Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Program at the Yale MacMillan Center

Graphic Design by: Milo Bonacci, Yale MFA ’21



VASYL CHEREPANYN is Head of the Visual Culture Research Center (VCRC, Kyiv). He holds a PhD in philosophy (aesthetics) and has taught at University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), University of Helsinki, Free University of Berlin, Merz Akademie in Stuttgart, University of Vienna, and the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Political Critique in Warsaw, Greifswald University. A former visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, Cherepanyn co-edited Guidebook of The Kyiv International (Medusa Books, 2018), ’68 NOW (Archive Books, 2019) and curated The European International (Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam and Hybrid Peace (Stroom, The Hague). VCRC is the organizer of the Kyiv Biennial (The School of Kyiv, 2015; The Kyiv International, 2017; Black Cloud, 2019; Allied, 2021) and a founding member of the East Europe Biennial Alliance. VCRC received the European Cultural Foundation’s Princess Margriet Award for Culture (2015) and the Igor Zabel Award Grant for Culture and Theory in 2018.

TIMOTHY SNYDER is the Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. His is the author of numerous books that include The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569–1999 (2003); Sketches from a Secret War: A Polish Artist’s Mission to Liberate Soviet Ukraine (2005); Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (2010), Thinking the Twentieth Century (with Tony Judt, 2012); Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (2015); On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017); and The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America (2018). He was a Marshall Scholar at Oxford, where he earned his D.Phil., and has received the Carnegie and Guggenheim fellowships. Among other distinctions are the Emerson Prize in the Humanities, the Literature Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Foundation for Polish Science prize in the social sciences, the Leipzig Award for European Understanding, the Dutch Auschwitz Committee award, and the Hannah Arendt Prize in Political Thought.


Is personal engagement in war possible in an interconnected digital world? The war in Ukraine has provided an opportunity for coders and hacktivists to use their technical skills to help Ukraine resist the territorial invasion by the Russian Federation. We will discuss the rapid deployment of these new “cyber-partisans” and explore the geopolitical and ethical repercussions of this new form of digital activism.


SCOTT SHAPIRO is the Charles F. Southmayd Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at Yale Law School. His areas of interest include jurisprudence, international law, constitutional law, criminal law and cybersecurity. He is the author of Legality (2011), The Internationalists (2017) (with Oona Hathaway) and editor of The Oxford Handbook of Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law (2002) (with Jules Coleman).
He earned B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy from Columbia University and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Shapiro is an editor of Legal Theory and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. He is also the founding director of the Yale CyberSecurity Lab, which provides cutting-edge cybersecurity and information technology teaching facilities. His next book, entitled Insecurity, details the history and technology of Internet hacking.

YULIANA SHEMETOVETS is a Belarusian activist and spokeswoman on behalf of the Cyber Partisans. She is the Representative on Foreign Affairs of the Suprativ movement, a Belarusian resistance opposition coalition. A director of the organizing committee for the “Belarus Liberty” nonprofit organization, Yuliana is focused on using technology to empower civil societies and to advocate for human rights.


Russia’s assault on one of Europe’s largest nuclear power plants in Zaporizhzhia followed the invasion of Ukraine and the occupation of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant one week earlier. Russia made explicit with these actions that it was willing to stand in violation of international humanitarian law to achieve the goals of the state.

What has become clear is that this pursuit of conventional warfare risks nuclear catastrophe. The third edition of The Humanity Dialogues includes Kate Brown, the author of Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future, and Svitlana Matviyenko, an educator and critical media analyst based in Ukraine, in a conversation that addresses the Soviet Union’s response to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the threats posed by the Russian military assaults on operational power plants throughout Ukraine. Filmmaker Oleksiy Radynski will discuss his research on the wider implications of Russia’s actions in what he refers to as the weaponization of the energy sector.


KATE BROWN is the Thomas M. Siebel Distinguished Professor in the History of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is the author of several prize-winning histories, including Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford 2013). Her latest book, Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future (Norton 2019), translated into nine languages, won the silver medal for the Laura Shannon Prize, and the Reginald Zelnik and Marshall D. Shulman Prize and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award.

SVITLANA MATVIYENKO is Assistant Professor of Critical Media Analysis in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University with a research focus on information and cyberwar; political economy of information; media and environment; infrastructure studies; STS. Matviyenko has written about practices of resistance and mobilization; digital militarism, dis-, and misinformation; internet history; cybernetics; psychoanalysis; posthumanism; the Soviet and the post-Soviet techno-politics; nuclear cultures, including the Chernobyl Zone of Exclusion. She is a co-editor of The Imaginary App (MIT Press, 2014) and Lacan and the Posthuman (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). She is a co-author of Cyberwar and Revolution: Digital Subterfuge in Global Capitalism (Minnesota UP, 2019).

OLEKSIY RADYNSKI is a filmmaker and writer based in Kyiv. His films have been screened at International Film Festival Rotterdam, Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Docudays IFF, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), and SAV V Y Contemporary (Berlin), among others. After graduating from Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, he studied at the Home Workspace Program (Ashkal Alwan, Beirut). In 2008, he cofounded Visual Culture Research Center, an initiative for art, knowledge, and politics in Kyiv. His texts have been published in Proxy Politics: Power and Subversion in a Networked Age (Archive Books, 2017), Art and Theory of Post-1989 Central and East Europe: A Critical Anthology (MoMA, 2018), Being Together Precedes Being (Archive Books, 2019), and e-flux journal.


The fourth edition of The Humanity Dialogues includes the participation of artists, researchers, and curators from Ukraine, Poland and Belarus—Olga Kopenkina, Yulia Krivich, Kuba Szreder, and Asia Tsisar who will share the modes of agency and action that have emerged across artist networks in Central-Eastern Europe as a response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Amid the military struggle for democratic selfdetermination and an escalating humanitarian crisis, not witnessed in Europe since the second World War, what does this international solidarity of artists and cultural workers entail? What kind of organizational formats do these initiatives assume? How are existing models of artistic interdependency altered, ruptured, or reinforced in the face of military aggression, war crimes, and the displacement of over two million people? How do the roles of existing cultural or art institutions change in the context of war and the dissolution of an open and tolerant civil society? The speakers will discuss these and other topics, referring to the emergent artistic practices, such as activities of the Sunflower House of Culture (a bottom-up initiative affiliated with the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw) that provides direct aid to Ukrainian refugees, an international bureau devoted to raising the awareness of the decolonial history of the region, and artist initiatives working within the opposition in Belarus—in an effort to re-evaluate and to rethink the role of art and artists in the time of war.


ASIA TSISAR is a Ukrainian curator and anthropologist. Graduated from the Department of Cultural Studies of State Academy of Culture in Kharkiv, Ukraine, her topics of interest include artist and art archives, memory and modes of commemoration after the fall of Communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe. Tsisar is also the curator of the Secondary Archive—a platform for women artists from throughout Central and Eastern Europe, Ukraine and Belarus. Currently, she cooperates with the Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation (Poland). Tsisar lives and works in Warsaw.

OLGA KOPENKINA is a Belarus-born independent curator and art critic with an M.A. in Curatorial Studies from Bard College, NY. She had been the curator in the gallery 6th Line in Minsk, Belarus from 1993–1998. Her recent exhibitions include The Work of Love, The Queer of Labor, at Franklin Street Works, Stamford, CT, 2017; Feminism is Politics! at Pratt Manhattan Gallery; Lenin: Icebreaker Revisited at Austrian Cultural Forum NY (2015), Sounds of Silence: Art during Dictatorship at EFA Project Space (2012), and others. Kopenkina is a contributor to publications such as Art Journal, Artforum, ArtMargins, Moscow Art Journal, Hyperallergic, Brooklyn Rail, and others. She lives in New York City and teaches at New York University and Fordham University ( )

YULIA KRIVICH is a Ukrainian artist who resides in Poland. A member of Za*Grupa (*expatriate artists living in Poland), Krivich is an activist and photographer who graduated from the Department of Architecture of the State Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture in Dnipro (2010) and from the Faculty of Media Arts of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (2013). In her work, she explores issues related to identity through activism and personal histories. Her research centers on topics related to Eastern Europe and migration. Krivich lives in Warsaw and works at the Academy of Arts in Szczecin in the Photography and Postartistic Activities Studio. She is a co- founder of the Sunflower Solidarity House of Culture.

KUBA SZREDER is a researcher, interdependent curator, and a lecturer at the Academy of Fine Art in Warsaw. He actively cooperates with artistic unions, consortia of postartistic practitioners, clusters of artresearchers, art collectives and artistic institutions in Poland, UK, and other European countries. Editor and author of books and texts on the political economy of global artistic circulation, art strikes, modes of artistic self-organization, instituting art beyond the art market and the use value of art. His most recent book The ABC of the projectariat: Living and working in a precarious art world, was published by the Whitworth Museum and Manchester University Press in December 2021.


As the war in Ukraine continues, Russia faces sanctions imposed by international governments and organizations intended to disempower the Russian war machine by stopping the flow of money to Russian coffers and pressuring elites to exercise political influence. But sanctions are only effective to the extent they cannot be bypassed. With an estimated $50 billion in annual transaction volume and a global value of $1.7 trillion, art represents a massive asset class, yet the market for art remains largely unregulated and is characterized by opaque transactions. While new opportunities for circumventing sanctions may have recently emerged through crypto-based markets for NFTs, it has long been possible to warehouse valuable art objects in special tax havens, effectively off-shoring these physical assets. What can be done today to close this crucial loophole?


DANIEL GLASER served as Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes in the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence from 2011–2017 where he helped to formulate and coordinate counterterrorist financing, Anti-Money Laundering (AML), sanctions, and other counter-illicit finance policies and strategies within the U.S. Treasury Department, and globally. Glaser also served as Treasury’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes from 2004–2011, and the Head of the U.S. Delegation to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) from 2001–2011. Glaser is currently the global head of jurisdictional services at K2 Integrity.

WILLIAM N. GOETZMANN is the Edwin J. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Management Studies and Faculty Director of the International Center for Finance at the Yale School of Management. His research is focused on investments, including the art market. His past work includes studies of investment fraud and operational risk. His most recent book is Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible (Princeton, 2016).

SIMON JOHNSON is the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he is also the head of the Global Economics and Management group. In 2007–08, Professor Johnson was chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. In February 2021, Johnson joined the board of directors of Fannie Mae.