Pacifism – A Pledge or a Retreat, Idealism or Pragmatism? 24 October 2023

Initiated by Alexandra Tryanova, Jan Beddegenoodts and Pascal Gielen

What role does art and culture play in times of conflict?
Is our cherished notion of pacifism facing challenges?
How do we navigate the boundaries of representation in art and media during wartime?
What ethical considerations arise in the portrayal of war?

“A pacifist is a rare animal in a bomb shelter.” The conflict in Ukraine has put our understanding of pacifism to the test. Ukrainian curator Alexandra Tryanova, tattoo artist Polina Frank, and cultural sociologist Pascal Gielen have collaborated to produce the booklet Passivity… exploring this very topic. Furthermore, Pascal Gielen, in partnership with film director Jan Beddegenoodts, journeyed to Ukraine to craft a documentary film delving into the intricate interplay between artists, war, and pacifism.

Together with a captivating lineup of guest speakers, they aim to engage in a wide-ranging debate on the nexus of art, culture, and conflict. Our distinguished speakers include:

  • Annelys De Vet (Designer, Professor at Sint Lucas Antwerp, and ARIA PhD Researcher, Disarming Design from Palestine)
  • Bart Van Nuffelen (Martha!tentatief and creator of the poignant podcast “The Art of Disappearing”)
  • Roschanack Shaery-Yazdi (Professor of Power in History, Antwerp University)
  • Inge Henneman (Photography Critic, Curator, and Professor at the Royal Academy of Arts Antwerp)
  • Mykhailo Glubokyi (Director of IZOLYATSIA, a platform for cultural initiatives originally based in Donetsk, Ukraine)
  • Gert Jochems (Photographer, among others for De Standaard)
  • Aleksey Yudin (Poet and Professor Eastern European Languages ​​and Cultures)

The symposium will be moderated by Mo* editor-in-chief Jago Kosolosky.

During the symposium, we will unveil the booklet Passivity – Between Indifference and Pacifism and the special issue of Dietsche Warande & Belfort on Urkaine literature will be presented.

In addition, we are excited to announce the opening of the Citizens of Kyiv exhibition by Alexander Chekmenev, featuring an introductory speech by Marc Verstappen, along with the launch of the artist book Citizens of Kyiv.

Proceeds from the sale of the Passivity booklet will be combined with a charitable collection to purchase heating equipment, ensuring warmth during the harsh Ukrainian winter. In early December, Pascal Gielen will personally transport these provisions to Kyiv.


  • 14:00  Introduction to the day and the initial debate by Pascal Gielen
  • 14:15  Presentation of the special Ukraine issue of Dietsche Warande & Belfort and a poetry reading by Aleksey Yudin
  • 14:30  Panel Discussion – Art and Conflict: How artists can engage with and in conflict? Participants: Annelys De VetBart Van NuffelenRoschanack Shaery-Yazdi and Paulina Frank
  • 15:30  Break
  • 15:45  Poetry reading by Aleksey Yudin
  • 16:00  Panel Discussion on photographing and filming in war zones: What to depict and what to refrain from showing? Balancing ethical, aesthetic, and commercial considerations.
    Participants: Inge HennemanMykhailo GlubokyiGert Jochems and Jan Beddegenoodts. Moderated by Mo* editor-in-chief Jago Kosolosky
  • 17:00  Book launch of Passivity by Polina Frank and Pascal Gielen
  • 17:15  Opening of the Citizens of Kyiv exhibition by Marc Verstappen and Alexander Chekmenev
  • 19:00  Closing

The Citizens of Kyiv exhibition is brought to you by Ta(r)dino 6 Art Platform, IZOLYATSIA: Platform for Cultural Initiatives, and Platform and / Malý Berlín, thanks to the support of the Culture of Solidarity Fund, powered by the European Cultural Foundation. Curated by Azad Asifovich and Asli Samadova.

The symposium is organized by the Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts (ARIA) and the Faculty of Arts, Antwerp University & De Studio

The symposium is part of the ARTICULATE. Art & Research days and Art x Research x City, ARIA’s month for research in the arts.


  • Location: De Studio, Maarschalk Gerardstraat 4, 2000 Antwerp
  • Language: English
  • Tickets €10 / €5 for students, via De Studio