Cultural Heritage and Religious Phenomenon between Urbicide and Cancel Culture: The Other Side of the Russian–Ukrainian Conflict
2. The Russian–Ukrainian Conflict and Its Repercussions on the Integrity of Cultural Heritage: From Urbicide to Cancel Culture
3. The Relevant Role of Religion in the Russian–Ukrainian Conflict
4. International Instruments for the Protection of Cultural Heritage
New Solutions and Old Problems
Conflicts of Interest
In 1589, the patriarch Jeremias II of Constantinople, with an assembly of bishops, presided over the enthronement of the first Russian patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia, metropolitan Job, marking the beginning of the autocephalous status of the Russian Orthodox Church. Before the establishment of the patriarchate, in fact, the Russian Church was led by the metropolitan. Until the mid-fifteenth century, it belonged to the Patriarchate of Constantinople and had no independent government; it was only after the fall of Byzantium that the Metropolitan of Moscow obtained independence from the Patriarchate of Constantinople Church. In 1721, during the reign of Peter I, the patriarchate was abolished and the emperor established a theological council, later renamed into the Holy Synod—the state body of the highest authority of the Church—and in 1917, according to a decision of the All-Russian Local Council, the patriarchate was restored. (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Russian-Orthodox-Church. Accessed on 20 December 2022). The current Moscow Patriarchy was created in 1943 by Stalin when, in his office in the Kremlin on the night between 4 and 5 September 1943, he received the Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomna Sergij—locum tenens of the patriarchal throne—the Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod Aleksij and the Metropolitan of Kiev and Galic Nikolaj. All this took place in the presence of Molotov, the head of the NKGB Merkulov, and Colonel Georgij G. Karpov, head of the fifth department of the second directorate of the NKGB, whose competencies included the control and repression of religious organisations (Roccucci 2011, p. 174).
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/13/russian-orthodox-church-in-amsterdam-announces-split-with-moscow (accessed on 20 December 2022).
In this context, expressions of culture are understood as those encapsulated in the concept of “cultural heritage”, which encompasses not only the tangible manifestations of man’s creative genius (i.e., movable and immovable property), but also the expressions of peoples’ intangible cultural identity, i.e., the practices, knowledge, traditions, and know-how that groups and communities (and sometimes individuals) recognise as part of their memory and heritage (Frigo 2004, pp. 367–68).
Urbicide was first heard of in the 1990s during the war involving the territories of the former Yugoslavia. The term, from the Latin urbs (city) + caedere (to demolish, to kill), literally means violence against cities. The war conflict at the time brought attention to the phenomenon of material, cultural, and urban identity destruction. On the genesis of the concept of urbicide (Coward 2004, pp. 154–71; Graham 2004): “Urbicide is the liturgical murder of the city, a premeditated and ordered one, with an explicit form. It is the result of actions that wipe out systems of common life’s meaningful places (squares, monuments, libraries—the agora), ravage the city’s material basis (infrastructure, services—the “urbs”), exterminate society and citizenship (the civitas), and annihilate institutional marks of the government (privatisation, deregulation, centralisation—the “polis”)”. This type of murder arises in diverse situations, which fit into three types: natural (when it is caused by an aggression of nature, such as a hurricane, fire, earthquake, eruption, or drought.), anthropic (when it is the result of entirely anthropic reasons, from military conflagrations to real estate speculation), or symbolic (e.g., by changing the name of a city, one kills the past and marks a new possession or domain) (Carrión Mena 2018, p. 5). The ferocity of the ongoing war is threatening to erase the cities and cultural history of the Ukrainian people. Also in danger are monuments that are part of the World Heritage of Humanity, such as the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Kyiv, the medieval old town of Lwów, and the Potemkin Stairs in Odessa.
Of the 24 oblasts (regions) into which Ukrainian territory is divided and their respective capitals, almost half have been bombed. These include Kyiv, bombed by several Russian missile attacks; the eastern city of Zaporizhzhia, home to the largest nuclear power plant in Europe; Dnipro, also in eastern Ukraine; and the port city of Mykolaiv in the south. The city of Kharkiv and its oblast were also bombed; and the city of Trostyanets, in the Sumy region, was liberated by Russian occupation troops, but only rubble remains of it. The city of Mariupol (located in the Donec’k oblast and capital of the district of the same name, now part of the Donec’k People’s Republic) was largely destroyed after weeks of shelling. Also under missile attack was Nizhyn of the Černihiv oblast and its capital of the same name. Zhytomyr, Ternopil, and Lwów, on the Polish border, were the object of a blind retaliation aimed not only at hitting strategic targets, but at sowing terror and devastation among the civilian population.
The monitoring was conducted by the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience (DESS) in cooperation with the Workshop for the Academic Study of Religion. https://risu.ua/en/ancient-orthodox-church-of-ukraine-legally-withdraws-from-its-subordination-to-moscow_n133680 (accessed on 20 December 2022).
See below in the text.
These are the results of the “Religion in Fire” project developed by the academic community of religious studies in Kyiv and supported by DESS and the Congress of National Communities of Ukraine. https://risu.ua/en/the-researchers-conclude-that-the-russian-military-often-destroys-churches-and-religious-buildings-on-purpose_n132131 (accessed on 20 December 2022).
https://www.wordsense.eu/coventrate/ Accessed on 21 December 2022.
The air attack on Coventry cost 1236 lives and injured thousands; 4330 homes were destroyed, along with 2 hospitals, 3 churches, 80 per cent of factories, air raid shelters, railway and police stations, post offices, cinemas and theatres, the entire tram and road transport network, power stations, and gas and water distribution networks.
The devastation of important cultural sites in the various contexts of warfare are today’s evidence of a real strategy which dates far back in time (the words of Cato the Elder, for example, that Cartago delenda est still echo); but it is also true that, on other occasions, such destructions were justified by requirements of a strictly military nature. Speaking in today’s terms, these campaigns responded (or so it was believed) to the criteria of necessity and (military) advantages that later found their regulation both in the Geneva Convention of 1949 and in that signed in The Hague on 14 May 1954, the object of which was precisely the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict.
Many provisions of The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 can be traced back to the Project of an International Declaration concerning the Laws and Customs of War of 1874, a non-binding document drafted at the Brussels Conference. It is relevant since it constituted a first step forward in the codification of the laws of war (McGeorge 2006, p. 209). Article 8 of the Declaration of 1874 offers an early example—in embryonic form—of the protection of cultural heritage in international law. According to the article, the seizure, destruction, and wilful damage of “The property of municipalities, that of institutions dedicated to religion, charity and education, the arts and sciences even when State property, shall be treated as private property. All seizure or destruction of, or wilful damage to, institutions of this character, historic monuments, works of art and science should be made the subject of legal proceedings by the competent authorities”. Art. 17 emphasised that: “In such cases all necessary steps must be taken to spare, as far as possible, buildings dedicated to art, science, or charitable purposes, hospitals, and places where the sick and wounded are collected provided they are not being used at the time for military purposes. It is the duty of the besieged to indicate the presence of such buildings by distinctive and visible signs to be communicated to the enemy beforehand”. The Declaration contained rules for siege and bombardment aimed at sparing hospitals and buildings of cultural, scientific, religious, or other social importance to the greatest degree possible, as well as an order to prevent looting (McGeorge 2006, p. 204 ff.). The text of the Declaration can be accessed from the International Committee of the Red Cross website: www.icrc.org (accessed on 27 December 2022).
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) was the first human rights treaty adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 9 December 1948. It signified the international community’s commitment to “never again” after the atrocities committed during the Second World War. “Article II. In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”.
It is emphasised that the introduction of the notion of “cultural genocide” was proposed in the draft Convention prepared by the UN Secretary General, the Draft Convention on the Crime of Genocide of 26 June 1947, in which Article 1(3) included a mention of genocidal acts: “[d]estroying the specific characteristics of the group by: (a) forcible transfer of children to another human group; (b) forced and systematic exile of individuals representing the culture of a group; (c) prohibition of the use of the national language even in private intercourse; (d) systematic destruction of books printed in the national language or of religious works or prohibition of new publications; (e) systematic destruction of historical or religious monuments or their diversion to alien uses, destruction or dispersion of documents and objects of historical, artistic, or religious value and of objects used in religious worship”.
Article 7: “Indigenous peoples have the collective and individual right not to be subjected to ethnocide and cultural genocide, including prevention of and redress for: (a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities; (b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources; (c) Any form of population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights; (d) Any form of assimilation or integration by other cultures or ways of life imposed on them by legislative, administrative or other measures; (e) Any form of propaganda directed against them”.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was adopted by the General Assembly on Thursday, 13 September, 2007, by a majority of 143 states in favour, 4 votes against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States), and 11 abstentions (these include the Russian Federation and Ukraine).
The International Council of Museums (ICOM) is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to museums. It maintains formal relations with UNESCO and has a consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums, paragraph 1.6, Protection Against Disasters, and paragraph 2.21, Protection Against Disasters. https://icom.museum/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/ICOM-code-En-web.pdf (accessed on 20 December 2022).
Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage adopted on 16 November 1972, art. 11, c. 4 “[…] The list may include only such property forming part of the cultural and natural heritage as is threatened by serious and specific dangers, such as the threat of disappearance caused by accelerated deterioration, large- scale public or private projects or rapid urban or tourist development projects; destruction caused by changes in the use or ownership of the land; major alterations due to unknown causes; abandonment for any reason whatsoever; the outbreak or the threat of an armed conflict; calamities and cataclysms; serious fires, earthquakes, landslides; volcanic eruptions; changes in water level, floods and tidal waves. […]”.
The damage to cultural heritage since the start of the conflict has been transversal in that it has not only affected Ukraine, but also, reflexively, Russia. In fact, one of the many side effects of the Russian invasion has been the reaction by Western countries to strike at the products of Russian culture. In Italy, the most famous case was that of the writer Paolo Nori, who had to give up lectures on Dostoevsky at the Bicocca University in Milan. Also, at the University of Leeds in England, the editors of the journal Studies in the History of Philosophy decided to forego a thematic issue on Russian religious philosophy, since it was feared that the works of Russian religious thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries could be used for propaganda purposes. But there have also been cases on other sides of culture: the Children Book Fair in Bologna (Italy), for example, suspended all cooperation with Russian organisations; and the Galleria Accademia in Florence and the Royal Opera House in London were also banned from featuring Russian artists. In Italy, the European Photography Festival, which had Russia as a guest, was cancelled because “the organisers cannot have relations with a country that is an aggressor” (https://artslife.com Accessed on 18 December 2022). The cancellation culture also affected gastronomy; again, in Italy, the attempt to boycott the “Russian salad” ended up turning into a butade, since in Moscow and the rest of the world, they know that dish as “Olivier salad”. But Italy was not the only one to attempt to censor the food industry: abroad, Moscow Mules have been renamed Kyiv Mules. Brighton Beach’s grocery store, Taste of Russia, in Brooklyn, changed its name, as did Washington, D.C.’s Russia House in Dupont Circle (https://reason-com. Accessed on 18 December 2022). To date, the work of erasing Russian culture, at least in Italy, seems to have come to an end. For example, the premiere at La Scala in Milan opened its 2022–2023 season with Modest Petrovič Musorgskij’s Boris Godunov (https://www.teatroallascala.org/en/index.html (accessed on 18 December 2022).
This is the “Draft Law on Amendments to Certain Laws of Ukraine Establishing Restrictions on the Importation and Distribution of Publishing Products Concerning the Aggressor State, the Republic of Belarus, the Temporarily Occupied Territory of Ukraine”, dated 13 June 2022, as yet unsigned by the Supreme Council of Ukraine (Verchovna Rada of Ukraine; Ukrainian: Bepxoвна Рада Укpаїни). It provides for the amendment of the Law of Ukraine “On Publishing”, No. 32 of 1997 (Information of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine–Bідoмoсті Bepxoвнoї Ради Укpаїни (BBР), 1997, No. 32, ст.206) and prohibits the printing of books produced by authors who, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, retained Russian citizenship, unless they renounced it and took Ukrainian citizenship. The import of Russian books printed in Russia, Belarus, or the “temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories” is prohibited. https://itd.rada.gov.ua/billInfo/Bills/Card/39764 (accessed on 16 December 2022). The “Draft Law on Amendments to Certain Laws of Ukraine Concerning Support for the National Music Product and Restricting Public Use of the Music Product of the Aggressor State” of 30 May 2022 completed its processing on 7 June 2022. It introduces amendments to the following two laws: the Law of Ukraine “On Culture”, No. 24 of 2011 (Bідoмoсті Bepxoвнoї Paди Укpaїни (BBP), 2011, No. 24, ст.168); and the Law of Ukraine “On Ensuring the Functioning of the Ukrainian Language as a State Language”, No. 21 of 2019 (Bідoмoсті Bepxoвнoї Paди (BBP), 2019, No. 21, ст.81). As a result of these amendments, the reproduction of music by post-Soviet Russian artists is prohibited on Ukrainian media and public transport, with the aim of increasing Ukrainian-language programmes and music on radio and TV. Excluded from the ban are musicians who condemned Moscow’s invasion, who will be included in a special “white list”. https://itd.rada.gov.ua/billInfo/Bills/Card/39702 (accessed on 16 December 2022). These laws and drafts are just the latest steps in a long journey that Ukraine has been on for several years now to overcome the legacy of Soviet domination and regain its national identity, called, until recently, decommunisation. After having been intensified since 2014 following Russia’s invasion of Crimea and the start of the conflict in the Donbass, today, this process has gained more and more ground, and no one is afraid to speak explicitly about derussification anymore. In 2019, for example, a law was passed requiring civil servants to know Ukrainian. Since the outbreak of the war, however, hundreds of places in Kiev alone have decided to change their names to remove any reference to their links with Russia, and a Soviet-era statue erected to celebrate the friendship between the two countries has been torn down. On the other hand, it must be remembered that measures of this kind are not new in the political history between the two countries. On the Russian side, a policy defined as “attacking the Ukrainian language” began in 1654 with the annexation of Ukrainian territories to Russian rule. Russification reached its peak with the issuing of two decrees by the Tsar in 1863 and 1872, respectively. The first, called the Valuev Decree, stated that “the majority of the Little Russians (the name of Ukrainians in the Russian empire) prove that any Ukrainain language ever existed, exists or will exist”. It was “the same Russian language with the only difference of it being spoiled by Polish”; and again, that “the Russian language is understood by all the Little Russians far better than their Little Russian (that is Ukrainian) language”, and that “Some poets call this language Ukrainian”. The second decree (Emsky decree) went so far as to prohibit the import of books in Ukrainian if they had been published in western Ukraine (Totskyi 2010).
At the end of the 19th century, there were more than 2 million Jews in Ukraine. However, after the exiles and murders of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 and then the invasion of Nazi Germany in 1941, only 800,000 Jews remained in Ukraine after World War II. Before the German invasion, about 160,000 Jews resided in Kyiv, or about 20% of the capital’s total population. At the time of the German occupation of Kyiv, about 60,000 Jews remained in the city, more than half of whom were massacred between 1941, remembered today as the Babyn Yar massacre, and 1943. The Jewish presence was a constant in the Kyiv area (Nathans 2002), so much so that, despite the pogroms, Kyiv was a multi-religious and multi-lingual city where Jews and other national groups (Ukrainians, Russians, and Poles) interacted in a context that we would call intercultural today (Meir 2006, p. 485). Despite the fact that with the dissolution of the USSR in the 1990s, a large component of the Jewish community emigrated to Israel, in Ukraine, the Russian-speaking Israeli community was the third largest in the country. To date, following another major emigration that took place during the conflict that erupted in the Donbass in 2014, the country’s Jewish component has shrunk further.
See: U.S. Department of State, Ukraine 2021 International Religious Freedom Report, Section I. Religious Demography, p. 4, https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/UKRAINE-2021-INTERNATIONAL-RELIGIOUS-FREEDOM-REPORT.pdf (accessed on 2 January 2023).
Demonstrating the existence of this symphonic relationship, the close relationship between the two institutions was sealed in 2011 when the Moscow Patriarch’s residence was moved inside the Kremlin, the seat of political power.
On 1 January 2023, the lease by the UOC MP of the Dormition Cathedral and the Church of the Feast of Kiev Pechersk Lavra, a historic Kiev monastery also known as the Cave Monastery, expired. These buildings, which have always been in the possession of the UOC MP, have been seized by the state. A commission composed of representatives from the National Nature Reserve, the Miller Law Company, the UOC MP, and the Culture Ministry carried out the transfer, which included taking inventory of the property and preparing a technical inspection report for the two buildings. https://www.pravda.com.ua/eng/news/2023/01/6/7383768/ (accessed on 3 January 2023).
The text of the Tomos is available in English on the official website of the Patriarchate of Constantinople: https://ec-patr.org/patriarchal-and-synodal-tomos-for-the-bestowal-of-the-ecclesiastical-status-of-autocephaly-to-the-orthodox-church-in-ukraine/ (accessed on 3 January 2023).
https://www.asianews.it/news-en/The-Russian-Orthodox-against-the-claims-of-Constantinople-54091.html (accessed on 3 January 2023).
Moscow, on the other hand, which originated around 1147 as a military outpost of one of the principalities into which Rus’ was divided, became influential many years later; thus, Kyiv did not come under Moscow’s control until 1667.
https://www.kmu.gov.ua/bills/proekt-zakonu-pro-zaboronu-moskovskogo-patriarkhatu-na-teritorii-ukraini (accessed on 3 January 2023).
https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/2662-19#Text (accessed on 3 January 2023).
On 17 June 2022, the European Commission published its opinion in favour of granting Ukraine official candidate status; on 23 June 2022, in Brussels, the European Council granted Ukraine candidate status.
“Article 10—Freedom of thought, conscience and religion. 1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes freedom to change religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or in private, to manifest religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance”.
The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights entered into force with the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009. It is legally binding in all EU member states.
On 7 February 2019, the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament) amended the Constitution by a majority vote, supplementing it with the following formula that makes explicit the values behind its adoption: “[…] caring for the strengthening of civil harmony on Ukrainian soil, and confirming the European identity of the Ukrainian people and the irreversibility of the European and Euro-Atlantic course of Ukraine, striving to develop and strengthen a democratic, social, law-based state […]”. https://www.refworld.org/pdfid/44a280124.pdf (accessed on 3 January 2023).
https://www.rainews.it/ (accessed on 4 January 2023).
Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land. The Hague, 18 October 1907: “Art. 27. In sieges and bombardments all necessary steps must be taken to spare, as far as possible, buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals, and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not being used at the time for military purposes. It is the duty of the besieged to indicate the presence of such buildings or places by distinctive and visible signs, which shall be notified to the enemy beforehand”.
It should be noted that the 1899 and 1907 Conventions do not differ with regard to the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict.
https://www.euronews.com/culture/2022/03/18/italy-ready-to-rebuild-bombed-mariupol-theatre (accessed on 21 December 2022).
https://culturalrescue.si.edu/ (accessed on 21 Dcember 2022).
UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, adopted by the UNESCO General Conference on 17 October 2003.
UNESCO Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, adopted in Paris on 20 October 2005.
“Article 5. A Member of the United Nations against whom preventive or enforcement action has been taken by the Security Council may be suspended from the exercise of the rights and privileges of membership by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. The exercise of these rights and privileges may be restored by the Security Council»; «Article 6. A Member of the United Nations who has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organisation by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council”.
https://www.unesco.org/en/articles/mapping-host-countries-education-responses-influx-ukrainian-students (accessed on 17 December 2022).
Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Art. 16—Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Ibid, reference is made in particular to the following words: “the Committee, upon the proposal of the States Parties concerned, shall establish, keep up to date and publish a Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”. This quote was contained in Art. 16.1, which excluded an attribution of national authorship to the candidate object.
https://www.unesco.org/en/articles/unesco-president-zelensky-officially-announces-odesas-candidacy-receive-world-heritage-status (accessed on 21 December 2022).
The new 1954 Hague Convention considered two distinct cases, general protection and special protection, which did not differ in the protection mechanisms adopted in concrete application. Paradoxically, the granting of the special protection regime provided for a longer and more cumbersome procedure that slowed down recognition and exposed the at-risk assets to greater dangers.
We refer, in this context, to the case of water extinguishing systems in fire situations in US museums, which are not provided in European ones. This needs to be specified when drawing up the Standard Facilities Report on the occasion of the lending of works (Manoli 2015).
Second Protocol to Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, The Hague, 26 March 1999, arts. 10–13; art. 24.
Here we speak of individual criminal liability, which is common to all the articles of Chapter 4, including the first one, Article 15, which begins “Any person […]”.
“Article 38—State responsibility. No provision in this Protocol relating to individual criminal responsibility shall affect the responsibility of States under international law, including the duty to provide reparation”.
UN Doc. S/RES/2253 (2015), 17 December 2015.
Ibid, “Condemning the destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria particularly by ISIL and ANF, including targeted destruction of religious sites and objects; and recalling its decision that all Member States shall take appropriate steps to prevent S/RES/2253 (2015) 15-22456 5/28 the trade in Iraqi and Syrian cultural property and other items of archaeological, historical, cultural, rare scientific, and religious importance illegally removed from Iraq since 6 August 1990 and from Syria since 15 March 2011, including by prohibiting cross-border trade in such items, thereby allowing for their eventual safe return to the Iraqi and Syrian people”.
Charter of the United Nations. Chapter VII—Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression: “Article 39. The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security”.
More information on the initiatives promoted by the organisation can be found at https://linktr.ee/ukrainedao (accessed on 23 December 2022).
https://donate.thedigital.gov.ua/nft (accessed on 22 December 2022).
https://metahistory.gallery/ (accessed on 18 December 2022).
It is recalled that the conversion of a work of art into an NFT consists of applying an authentic digital signature to the work and giving it unique data (name of the owner, purchaser, etc.) compared to other existing copies. When one buys an NFT representing a work of art, you do not receive a physical copy. Most of the time, anyone can download a copy of a digital file for free. The NFT only represents the certificate of ownership, which is registered in a blockchain so that no one can tamper with it. While the owner of the token owns the original digital artwork, the creator of the NFT retains copyright and reproduction rights. During the European Council on 23 June 2022, EU leaders granted candidate country status to Ukraine, which implies that the country will have to comply with relevant EU guidelines, including Art. 14 of Directive (EU) 2019/790 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market, according to which “Member States shall provide that, when the term of protection of a work of visual art has expired, any material resulting from an act of reproduction of that work is not subject to copyright or related rights, unless the material resulting from that act of reproduction is original in the sense that it is the author’s own intellectual creation”. In other words, according to the European legislator, faithful reproductions of these works should not be protected. See also the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs Directorate-General for Internal Policies (2022).
https://metahistory.gallery/about-us (accessed on 21 December 2022). The inclusion of cryptocurrency among the weapons supporting Ukraine was made possible by the explosion of the NFT phenomenon in 2021, which invaded the art market following the Christie’s auction, where the token of Mike Winkelmann’s work, aka Beeple, Everyday—The First 5000 days, sold for USD 69.3 million. Riding on the trend of cryptocurrencies, the first museum was opened in Seattle in which exclusively NFT works are exhibited. The same technique was used to guarantee a preventive form of protection for Web artists, but also to create art to be exhibited to the public sic et simpliciter, indirectly proposing a new interpretation of Duchamp’s ready-made philosophy: an object takes on the value of a work of art when the artist chooses to exhibit it as such in an environment designed for public enjoyment. At the same time, this museographic choice implies a criterion of exhibition that does not concern the contemplation of the work of art for its contents of interpretation and social criticism, but rather its forms of fruition and circulation in the market world. With the contribution of many artists who have chosen to turn to non-traditional media to convey their forms of expression since the second half of the 20th century, contemporary currents have developed in which the choice of medium becomes an integral part of the creative process of the work and completes its interpretation. Suffice it to think of an artist of international renown, such as Bill Viola, who exploits multimedia to produce something that was not there before, making it impossible to separate the work from its medium at a time when the medium itself, namely, video art, constitutes the discriminating factor in identifying the artistic strand in question. Following the same theoretical criterion, NFT technology also becomes a production apparatus, carving out an exclusive collector’s market area and its own field of research within the study of art criticism (Paone 2018, p. 26).
On August 24th, in the framework of the 26th ICOM General Conference held in Prague, the ICOM Extraordinary General Assembly approved a new museum definition, stating: “A museum […] exhibits tangible and intangible heritage”. For the official and full definition, see https://icom.museum/en/news/icom-approves-a-new-museum-definition/ (accessed on 3 January 2023).
This is the case of the affair of Michelangelo’s Tondo Doni kept in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the digital version of which was sold to a private collector for a sum of EUR 240,000 and helped open the doors for NFTs into the world’s most famous museums, including the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, which inaugurated a project similar to the Italian one with the aim of “making luxury more accessible” (words spoken by the Hermitage museum’s director, General Piotrovsky (Roccella 2021). This has triggered an alarmed reaction from the General Directorate for Museums of the Italian Ministry of Culture, which has requested the suspension of contracts for the digitisation of museum collections pending the drafting of official guidelines in compliance with the law on copyright and reproduction rights, under which digital reproduction practices using blockchain technology should fall.
Coined expression for the sale of museum collections to obtain immediate liquidity (Jandl and Gold 2021).
A digital cultural asset is defined as “a documentary object bearing images and knowledge with cultural content drawn from the intangible dimension of the basic one”. The realisation of a digital counterpart of an already existing good does not imply for the legislator the creation of a new cultural good or a new testimony with value to civilisation; digitisation is not a simple conversion of goods from analogue to digital format, but is an interpretation, alternative with respect to form and content, which implies a subjective and contextualisable contribution in space and time. (Forte 2019, pp. 245, 266).
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Botti, F.; Bianchi, C. Cultural Heritage and Religious Phenomenon between Urbicide and Cancel Culture: The Other Side of the Russian–Ukrainian Conflict. Religions 2023, 14, 535. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040535
Botti F, Bianchi C. Cultural Heritage and Religious Phenomenon between Urbicide and Cancel Culture: The Other Side of the Russian–Ukrainian Conflict. Religions. 2023; 14(4):535. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040535Chicago/Turabian Style
Botti, Federica, and Cristina Bianchi. 2023. "Cultural Heritage and Religious Phenomenon between Urbicide and Cancel Culture: The Other Side of the Russian–Ukrainian Conflict" Religions 14, no. 4: 535. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040535