CAA News Today

Member Spotlight: Nazar Kozak

posted by CAA — Apr 04, 2019

Nazar Kozak at the 2019 CAA Annual Conference. Photo: Ben Fractenberg

Up next in our Member Spotlight series, we are highlighting the work of Nazar Kozak, senior research scholar in the Department of Art History in the Ethnology Institute at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, and an alumnus of the CAA-Getty International Program. Joelle Te Paske, CAA’s media and content manager, corresponded recently with Professor Kozak to learn more about his experiences at the Annual Conference, his current research, and his tips for scholars looking to extend their work internationally.

Joelle Te Paske: Hi Professor. Thanks for taking the time for our interview. So to begin, where are  you from originally? What is the focus of your research?

Nazar Kozak: I am from Lviv, Ukraine, and I work in two fields simultaneously: medieval and contemporary art. The first one emerged from my interest in the cultural heritage of the region in which I live. My ongoing research in this field is focused on the sixteenth-century iconographic migrations of the Akathistos cycle across the post-Byzantine world from Venetian Cyprus in the South to the Tsardom of Muscovy in the North. Through this, I aim to discover artistic connections within this politically segmented realm that are not readily visible through archival data and thus to problematize nationalist narratives that have dominated Eastern European scholarship in the past. My second specialization emerged in recent years when issues of social justice and war came into the forefront in my country. I was driven to document and re-think artistic responses to the turmoil of events and through this to make my art history relevant to the times I am living through socially and politically. Currently, I am working on an article that explores how border art resists a global biopolitical divide.

Akathistos cycle on the south facade of the Dormition Church in Humor, 1535. Photo: Nazar Kozak

JTP: What is your favorite thing about being a CAA member? Do you have a favorite memory?

NK: My favorite part of being a member is attending the Annual Conference. I remember the reaction of the audience to my talk at the Global Conversation session in 2017 when I shared my personal crisis in finding a motivation to continue writing art historical research when war broke out in my country and how I eventually found that motivation. The room was crowded and I remember the anxiety that I had before the session and the confidence I felt when I spoke and also during several moving conversations I had with attendees afterwards. That talk was published on the CAA website.

JTP: What is the most exciting part of your work currently?

NK: Currently and always the most exciting moment is when I realize that my work on a scholarly project is done; that is, when I can confirm my intellectual hypothesis and substantiate it with evidence that I genuinely believe to be true for now. This feeling, of course, does not last forever.

JTP: What would you say are some of the challenges?

NK: The major challenge is to find a sustainable answer for the Why question: Why am I writing a particular paper or monograph? And not just a random answer to tell others, but an answer I can tell myself and stick with, at least until I finish writing. The access to material and writing itself is a challenge, of course, but I think when you know your stake in it you can handle all the rest.

A view of Independence Square in Kyiv after violent clashes with the police during the Maidan Revolution, January 21, 2014. Photo: Borys Harasymiv

JTP: What is a favorite study you’ve worked on over the years? Any recommendations for our readers?

NK: Right now it is my article on art interventions during the Ukrainian Maidan revolution published in Art Journal in 2017.

I would recommend Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology by T.J. Demos, because it is a great piece of engaging scholarship and because art and ecology is a crucial issue that is relevant to us all.

For those who are interested in online resources on Byzantine art I would recommend The Digital Research Archive for Byzantium (DIFAB) and North of Byzantium.

JTP: What is your experience with Humanities Commons and the CAA-Getty program?

NK: I have used Humanities Commons several times as a platform for online discussions which have worked well as a supplement for in-person exchanges. Among other online platforms that I use is Academia.edu though I see its commercialization as controversial. The CAA-Getty International Program is the major vehicle that facilitates scholars from countries where art history has fewer resources than in West Europe or North America to bring their voice and to build their professional networks on the global scale. I participated in that program three times: first as a scholar and twice as an alumnus. This year I was selected to collaborate with the program’s director Janet Landay and the current CAA International Committee chair Pearlie Rose Baluyut to design and moderate the preconference colloquium on international topics in art history and I was honored to have that opportunity not only for my benefit but to contribute to the program as well. I might add that because of my work with the CAA-Getty program I have recently joined CAA’s International Committee, where I look forward to continuing to work on recruiting and interacting with international scholars.

Map of home institutions of 2019 CAA-Getty International Program participants. Learn more.

Nazar Kozak is a senior research scholar in the Department of Art History in the Ethnology Institute at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Previously he also taught at the Medieval and Byzantine Studies Department at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv. After receiving his PhD from the Lviv Academy of Arts in 2000, he spent a year in Greece under the auspices of the State Scholarships Foundation (IKY). Kozak is a recipient of research and publication grants from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and an alumnus of the CAA-Getty International Program. In 2016-2017, he was a visiting Fulbright Scholar in The Ukrainian Museum in New York. Kozak is the author of a monograph on image and authority in Kyivan Rus’ and articles dealing with Byzantine and post-Byzantine wall-paintings preserved in Ukraine. His ongoing research is focused on the sixteenth-century iconographic migrations of the Akathistos cycle across the post-Byzantine world. More recently, Kozak has also begun to work on topics in contemporary art. His article on the art interventions during the Ukrainian Maidan published in the Spring 2017 issue of the Art Journal received an honorable mention as a finalist for that year’s Art Journal Award.

Nazar Kozak (third from top left) and fellow 2019 CAA-Getty International Program participants.