Thursday 17 March 2022
Babyn Yar: Architecture, Memory and Politics in Ukraine. A lecture by Anna Kamyshan. Respondent: Uilleam Blacker
Location: The Masaryk Room, Fourth Floor, UCL SSEES, 16 Taviton Street, WC1H OBW
The Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Centre (BYHMC) is a highly controversial project, currently under development on the site of a ravine near Kyiv where 34,000 Jews were murdered by Nazi occupiers in September 1941. This talk by Anna Kamyshan, former Director of Conceptual Development and Research Projects at BYHMC, will focus on the creative concept she developed during her work on the project. The talk will discuss the project's ambitions as well as the resistance it met in Ukrainian society. It will describe how the concept behind the project grew, from a traditional museum to a large-scale transformation of the territory and landscape; and the conceptual, political and architectural dimensions this shift in scale and focus entailed.
The Babyn Yar site was bombed by the Russian Air Force on 1 March 2022. Several museum buildings were damaged and five people were killed in the attack on the territory of the Kyiv TV tower, which neighbours the site. Ukraine's Jewish President Volodmyr Zelenskyy responded to the attack with the following words:
"Such a missile strike shows that for many people in Russia, our Kyiv is completely foreign. They know nothing about our capital. About our history... But they have an order to erase our history. Erase our country. Erase us all."
About the speaker
Anna Kamyshan is an artist, architect and curator. She was born in Lviv and currently resides in Kyiv.
About the respondent
Uilleam Blacker is Associate Professor of Comparative East European Literature at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. He is the author of Memory, the City and the Legacy of World War II in East Central Europe: The Ghosts of Others (Routledge, 2019) and a co-author of Remembering Katyn (Polity, 2012). He is also a co-editor of Memory and Theory in Eastern Europe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). His research in Ukrainian, Polish, and Russian literature and culture focuses on questions of cultural memory. He has translated the works of several contemporary writers, including Oleg Sentsov’s collection of short stories Life Went on Anyway (Deep Vellum, 2019). His essay about Babyn Yar, “Holocaust Disneyland and the Russia-Ukraine War”, was published by May 2020 by the LA Review of Books.