The exhibition is the result of the work of artists — participants of the laboratory program for artists and researchers working with photography, selected through the open call. The program lasted from August to September 2018 at Mala Gallery of Mystetskyi Arsenal and consisted of lectures and workshops. The starting point was the discussion about archives, memory, loss, and gaps, as well as the possibility of their artistic representation.
The project reveals various aspects of photography as the main medium of memory: it appears as a mark, a stamp, a vague hint. The archives are subject to revisions that are of interest to the authors not only as a source of information but as a field of historical manipulation and depersonalization of experience.
How to think about the past and how to imagine the future if archives disappear? Can we think of the flash of memory as a metaphor of light? At the exhibition, the authors turn to the photographs from their personal collections, funds of national museums and archives, as well as to the found objects from the flea markets. The project reflects how the photograph goes beyond the flat surface and transforms into an object and multimedia.
Oksana Barshynova, Victor Marushchenko, Valerii Miloserdov, Roman Pyatkovka, and Oleksandr Solovyov took part in the project as mentors.
The project is based on archival photographs and aims to visualize the processes of forgetting that are inherent in our memory. Memory is variable—by its nature, it has an ability to manipulate facts and memories, suppress negative information from the sphere of conscious, and to create the false memories that arise on the basis of stories, visual materials and the synthesis of the real, past experience combined with fabrication.
Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin in the conversation with Eyal Weizman point out:
'There is potential power lying dormant in every photo. Once a photograph has been used in a particular way and returned to the archive it has the potential to be read again; its potential will always be in excess of its particular history that produced it'
That is why in the project Fake Recollection the photographs are used 'without context', photographs from family albums that are torn from history, and can be interpreted by the viewer, according to his/her experience. With the help of archival photographs, I want to depict the processes of forgetting and recollecting and to focus on the diversity of ways of reading of visual images.
Arabat Spit located in the northeast of the Crimean peninsula. Until 1955, the whole territory of the spit was a part of Crimean ASSR, and later its northern part was transferred to the Kherson region. The passing here boundary was conditional because it had separated the parts of one country. In March 2014, in one day, this borderline became a gray contour, a symbol, which used in maps to mark disputed territories. For Ukraine Crimea is a temporarily occupied territory, for the Russian Federation — it is a part of the country. The rest of the world in unequal parts either supports one of the parties or maintains neutrality.
This series of photos was taken in Arabat Spit and represents a non-military objects which can be easily taken as military ones in the night. The feeling of disorientation and clear knowing of the situation at the same time — became true companions of locals.
From the very beginning this project was a challenge for the author due to the lack of experience in working with archival photography, as well as the deliberate avoidance of planned application of politics in the works. The idea of the Maidan Square project arose during lectures and conversations about archives and memory, 'rewritten history', 'sense of time', 'planned manipulation', 'post-truth', etc.
The Maidan, as a place of concentration of hopes and promises, is too complicated even for itself, since none of the possible memories and descriptions of it seems to be accurate. Similar feeling of a loss of opportunity to describe this place appeared after hours of viewing of archival photography and then the walks through Maidan today, during which you dip in the arms of mohair wolves and zebras.
The Impossibility to explain or analyze this, has led to the form of a silent witness, the animal (many of which are at today's Maidan) was chosen as such a constant witness, as the first documented toponym of animal origin (this place was previously called a 'Goats’ swamp') and as a animal that archetypically works in pair with a wolf whose documentation is used in the installation.
The installation is a big head of a goat that is fixed at the level of the head of a spectator.
The viewer has the opportunity to 'go in' in the middle of the head and look at the archives of the Maidan, which is chaotically delineated with the images of today's Maidan. Technically, because to stroboscopic lighting, the list of 'memories' resembles a way of creating images in our imagination. The used form and method of interaction with it refers not only to the historic toponym totem, but also to animators in costumes of animals that in some way symbolize such totems in the modern way.
*In this work the materials of the Central State CinePhotoPhono Archives of Ukraine named after H. Pshenychnyi, photographs from the archive of Valerii Miloserdov and images from @robert3delnaja Instagram account have been used.
Every time I throw away (for any of the reasons) potentially good food I subconsciously feel sorry for doing so. There are no logical reasons behind this sense of guilt — by all means, I can afford not to eat the food I don’t want to eat. These are only leftovers on the plate — and yet I feel so sorry.
This sense originates not in reason but rather in my postmemory (using the term coined by Marianne Hirsch). When I was a kid, my grandma would share with me memories from her childhood and sometimes among them were memories from the early 1930s—the times of the man-made famine of 1932-33 in Soviet Ukraine (called the 'Holodomor' — derived from 'to kill by starvation' in Ukrainian), which killed, by various estimates, between 2.4 and 7.5 million people. And the guilt I feel now for the thrown-away food takes its origins there, in these stories about my family surviving this hunger.
To illustrate and to better understand this sense of guilt, I started recording the traces of all the food I’ve been throwing away with this sense.
These prints were later collaged with small pieces of found photos depicting fragments of anonymous and unrecognizable landscapes. The landscape here is used as a direct opposite of the Holodomor’s traces in postmemory of subsequent generations since mass deaths by hunger leave no traces in the landscape — unlike many other massive collective traumas which have their exact.
The collection of the museum is constantly being replenished. The process of arrival of an item to the institution's funds has a certain procedure for it, which is reflected in the working documents. Data about the thing is recorded in the act of admission, the book of receipts, inventory card, scientifically-unified passport.
In the project, I’m reviewing the new items — 28 photographs from June 2018 in the archives of the Ivan Honchar Museum. Each picture is assigned the status of a museum object on the basis of completed forms and tables that contain a clear structure. A visual design in the form of a cross-section of straight lines creates a grid. From the words of the arts theorist Rosalind Krauss, this object is "flat, geometrised, ordered, opposing to nature, mimezis, reality". Everything that falls into rectangular cells, splits into abstractions, deprives the original integrity and obeys to another regime.
In a flattened area, a researcher inserts information about the photos according to predefined parameters. The description is encrypted in text and numbers. Lack of information about those who are depicted, cancels out the processing of the category of personal memory, identity. The process of transforming from a private artifact to a museum object depersonalizes content and focuses on historical facts about the folk costume, life and architecture of Ukraine.
*In this work the archive materials of the National Center of Folk Culture 'Ivan Honchar Museum' have been used.
...every new day adds a day to the past. you’re better off thinking about tomorrow, but what about yesterday? everyone is made up of their own yesterdays. Without them, we are not us. quiet, seldom peaceful, monotonous days flow together into life, yet flow away... their breath is so volatile. I know something about my yesterday and nothing about yours, but we both make history. we will both eventually dissolve in it, imperceptibly and irrevocably...
Memory is, by definition, that which looks into the past, a 'window to the other world', where everything has already happened and is no longer present. Our relationship with the past is quite fragmentary because it is an immense space pulsating in the form of flashbacks, easy to manipulate, like passages snatched away from their context. One can refrain from thinking about them altogether. It is hard enough to access the plain of oneʼs own past, all the more so if the events in question took place in oneʼs absence. In the latter case, one may take no interest in it and just live. But the need to “remember” inevitably emerges when the issue of self-identity arises. This is like endowing matter with spirit. I hope I will not provoke a clash between the definitions of matter and spirit by saying that memory yearns to exist, to assume form. Where, if not in museums and archives, is one to seek evidence of a non-existent, forgotten past? The attempt is not to bring the dark past to light, but rather to try to find in what happened (to whomever, wherever) recognizable symbols and give them tactile value, at least to bring memory within oneʼs reach. Because the things we can touch suddenly come into existence.