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27 October 2023, Kasteel Ter Beken, Gent, Belgium

Last Friday marked the culmination of my PhD journey.

Looking back, it has been a happy experience – one that nurtured me over 5 years to be more focused and resilient.


I wish to express my sincere thanks to my supervisors Volkmar Muehleis, Jan Peeters and Steven Malliet for their guidance throughout these years. I am very grateful to the examiners Dr. Simon Van Damme (Dean of the Associated Faculty of the Arts, director of LUCA School of Arts), Prof. dr. Anna Kisiel (Faculty of Arts, KU Leuven), Dr. Annelies Monseré (LUCA School of Arts, Ghent/Brussel) and Prof. dr. Swantje Lichtenstein (University of Applied Sciences, Düsseldorf) for making my defense a mental workout.


Thanks to my artistic collaborators (John Vandevert, Sara Maino, Aram Karakhanyan, Slow Bear, Bart Dewolf, Diren Agbaba, Sam Billen), friends and Victim Support Europe colleagues who shared happiness during this long journey.

Many thanks to my family for encouraging me to follow my intuition. Their unfailing trust has been a significant source of motivation for me.

A special thank you goes to Sara Maino, my sun when it’s raining, my enlightener, critic and educator, but most of all, my best friend.
This is also an occasion to gratefully acknowledge the continuous financial support I received over the years from the LUCA School of Arts/KULeuven.

Thank You #BELGIUM, the land of #symphonism!


PS As the curtain falls on this chapter, it’s not the end of the voyage. The next stop is the US with our performance, “I CAN SPEAK.” Onward!
*Photos by my dear friend Cailin C E Mackenzie!

*Video by Sara Maino:


Marina Kazakova, Ph.D.
Poet & Art Researcher
LUCA School of Arts/KU Leuven