A City Within a Building: The Russian Airstrike on the Mariupol Drama Theater

Sat, 9.3.24, 5.00 pm 

Location: nGbK am Alex Address: Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 11/13, 10178 Berlin 

Presentation by the Center for Spatial Technologies with Maksym Rokmaniiko, Svitlana Matviyenko, Kseniia Rybak, and Isabelle Haßfurther

The bombing of the Mariupol Drama Theatre on March 16, 2022, a few weeks after the beginning of the Russian all-out invasion, is one of the worst atrocities committed by the occupying power against the civilian population. This latest joint research by the Kyiv-Berlin based Center for Spatial Technologies and Berlin-based Forensis focuses on the three-week period between the start of the large-scale Russian invasion and the March 16 air strike. During this period, the theater became a self-organized commune and an act of resistance: a “city within a building.” Through hours of interviews with survivors of the attack, the living world of the theater is carefully reassembled, exploring with great sensitivity the emerging interactions of memory, space, and trauma.

The Center for Spatial Technologies (CST) is a transdisciplinary group based in Kyiv and Berlin, working at the intersection of architectural, investigative, anthropological, and artistic practices. With the escalation of the war between Russia and Ukraine, CST focuses on the theme of war crimes and human rights violations. The Center collaborates with artistic and research institutions, grassroots initiatives, and human rights and forensic organizations.

Svitlana Matviyenko is Associate Professor of Critical Media Analysis at the School of Communication and Associate Director of the Digital Democracies Institute. Her research and teaching, informed by her studies of science, technology, and history of science, are focused on information and cyberwar, media and environment, critical infrastructure studies and postcolonial theory. Matviyenko’s current work on nuclear cultures and heritage investigates the practices of nuclear terror, weaponization of pollution, and technogenic catastrophes during the Russian war in Ukraine. She has co-edited two collections, The Imaginary App (MIT Press, 2014) and Lacan and the Posthuman (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). She co-authored Cyberwar and Revolution: Digital Subterfuge in Global Capitalism (Minnesota UP, 2019), a winner of the 2019 book award of the Science Technology and Art in International Relations (STAIR) section of the International Studies Association, and of the Canadian Communication Association 2020 Gertrude J. Robinson book prize. At the Digital Democracies Institute, Matviyenko leads the Cyberwar Topologies and Media, Infrastructure, Environment research streams. She serves on the Advisory Board of Critical Infrastructure Lab (University of Amsterdam).

Kseniia Rybak is a researcher and editor who worked on the Center for Spatial Technologies’ study on the Russian attack on the Mariupol Drama Theatre. She was a co-editor and journalist at the Ukrainian edition of Political Critique, where she co-curated the Ignorant Space research project. Rybak is also a co-founder of the activist initiative Occupy Kyiv Cinemas and its sister research project, Kinography.

Maksym Rokmaniiko is a Ukrainian architect, researcher, and educator whose work emphasizes the use of spatial modeling technologies as a mode of inquiry into the urban condition. He received his architectural BA from Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture. Furthering his education in the United States, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue an MS in Architecture at the University of Oregon. He is the founding director of the Center for Spatial Technologies (CST). He regularly delivers talks and workshops in Europe and contributes work to exhibitions and cultural events. He lives and works in Berlin.

Isabelle Haßfurtheris a legal advisor at the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR). As a member of the International Crimes and Accountability program, she focuses on accountability for international crimes committed in the context of the war of aggression against Ukraine. She supports survivors through strategic legal interventions in various European jurisdictions. She studied politics and law with a focus on general public international law, international criminal law, and human rights in Germany, France, and the UK. After her studies, she worked as a research and teaching associate at the Walther Schücking Institute for International Law, Kiel, where she is also pursuing her PhD. Prior to joining ECCHR, she worked as a freelance assistant for the international law firm Lindeborg Counselors at Law in London (UK) and led a study on questions of immunity from prosecution of international crimes for REDRESS as part of the Cambridge Pro Bono Project. She is admitted as a lawyer to the Hamburg Bar Association.