Tvorinnya - Tse Nashe Dykhannya (Creation is our Breath) Rushnyk- making performance / workshop, 2021, documented performance

In the spectrum of traditional Ukrainian craft, the object was always seen in relation to the body of the maker – as a companion, an archive, and a record of the way the world was seen and interacted with. Until the Soviet period, the embroidery craft was seen as a means of expression that recorded the life and experience of the maker, operating in symbols and cryptograms whose meaning was passed down through generations.

Ukrainian craft in Canada today now often operates within a different set of functions whose binary forces compensate for the gradual loss of Ukrainian language, underlining the community’s allegiance to its remaining ethnic heritage. Embroidery pieces became collectables or copies of pieces created in an earlier age. The innovative, expressionistic aspect of embroidery is replaced by a static function that overshadows the intimate/ personal  for public, at times exclusive, display to underline a fidelity to ethnic loyalty and origins.

The Rushnyk Performance workshop is a speculative experiment that takes the traditional functions of the rushnyk – a ritual cloth embroidered with motifs, and exten

ds its act of making into a gesture of stepping out of the exclusivity of collected symbols, and learning to begin making new ones, to innovate and speak for the times we live in. Meditating on the delicate relationships between piercing and healing, suppression and expression, constraint and freedom, this video performance operates as an improvised conversation between myself, as a diasporic carrier of culture, and my mother – a previous, native generation.

How can we show allegiance to what we are missing as well as what remains?

This performance considers the definition of making as a life-

giver - the breath - and as a process powerful enough to embrace the unknown, the vulnerable, and the uncertainty that lies within the Ukrainian collective ethnic-memory.

Ultimately, our identity lives in our breaths, our existence.