Svitlana Biedarieva - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Svitlana Biedarieva

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Svitlana Biedarieva

PhD student

Thesis: ‘Challenging the Urban Legacies of the Olympics: Mexico City 1968-1994 and Moscow 1980-1991’

Supervised by Klara Kemp-Welch

Funded by Courtauld scholarship

The research “Challenging the Urban Legacies of the Olympics: Mexico City 1968-1994 and Moscow 1980-1991” focuses on the influence of the Olympic Games in Mexico City 1968 and Moscow 1980 on the development of art in urban space. 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 attempted to create an externalized ideal image of a state, and thus 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 a post-Olympic city.

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 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 a void, as both official events of the Games were subverted by the international boycott, and at the same time alternative art was “pushed out” to the suburban margins of Moscow. The research focuses on these two parallel models of relation between centre and periphery in the dialogue “official-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


  • 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

Conference papers and lectures

  • 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

  • “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:
    • 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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