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11 July 2020

Panel discussion: Foisted nuclear agendas in Aotearoa, Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa and Ukraine

John Miller, The yacht Te Kaitoa, with hundreds of messages from supporters inscribed, 1995. From the series 1995 Protest Te Kaitoa. Courtesy of the artist.


The Zone artist Raúl Ortega Ayala is joined by Ukrainian-American historian Serhii Plokhii, filmmaker Pita Turei and photographer John Miller to discuss the context in which antinuclear movements in the USSR and Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa took place, leading to fundamental changes in the affected territories.

Against the backdrop of the superpowers’ ideological and colonial behaviours towards annexed countries or regions, nuclear programmes gravely compromised the wellbeing of these populations away from the centres of power. The panel will speak on this, and, in view of the current political activism centring on climate change and racial violence, will also consider the obliteration of nuclear energy and nuclear warfare discussions, while radiation from past accidents, like Chernobyl, still affects us.

About the speakers

Raúl Ortega Ayala’s art practice is heavily influenced by anthropology and developed through extensive research of specific topics for long periods of time. His work has been shown in different parts of the world, in venues including The Frans Hals museum, David Roberts Foundation, Delfina Foundation, the Barbican Centre, Liverpool Biennial, Stroom, Arp Museum, Geementemuseum and Museo Experimental El Eco. Ortega Ayala is Associate Head and Senior Lecturer at the Whiti o Rehua School of Art at Massey University in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Serhii Plokhii is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History and the director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University. A leading authority on Eastern Europe and Russia, he has published extensively on East European and international history. His books have won numerous awards, including the Ballie Gifford Prize, and Pushkin House Book Prize, UK for Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy.

Pita Turei (Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki, Ngāti Paoa, Ngā Rauru Kītahi) is a storyteller and creative collaborative practitioner based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

John Miller (Ngāpuhi) is a photographer who has documented cultural events and social and political dissent for over four decades. His work has featured in many publications, including By Batons and Barbed Wire, on the 1981 Springbok Tour; Negligent Neighbour, about East Timor, and Hikoi – Forty Years of Māori Protest. He was the recipient of the Marti Friedlander Photographic Award in 2009.

Related exhibitions

Raúl Ortega Ayala: The Zone
Pita Turei: Hotu Painu