In The Event Of The Human Material,
Comes the event of human mark making through human trajectories. Our global and local footpaths have usurped dust, and let it settle. Our feet made indents, and our hands let go of things we couldn’t carry into our next paths.
The conversation of human diaspora, what it means, and how it relates to land practices and our communion with the earth, is a large and complex relationship whose fluid definition pushes my work to constantly calibrate around not only objects and materials that have been acquired, but also, those let go of, abandoned, and forgotten.
Working within the Canadian-Ukrainian community, specifically within an Anthropocenic context, my practice peers into the missing as well as the present, investigating imprints made, learning how to fill them, and illustrating a place of belonging as a seen and unseen force.
My interest in the role of resource and material, through time, hand, and location, is sourced from critical study of the emerging term “Anthropocene”. Brought to a multi-dimensional understanding in Donna Haraway’s text “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin”, this term exists as a subject within unimaginable scale, and my response grew out of an interest to bring down this untactile aspect, creating narratives that Haraway describes are “just big enough to gather up the complexities and keep the edges open and greedy for surprising new and old connections” (Haraway).
I began to use found objects as intimate relics of a significant hairline of time, where man-made material is becoming re-integrated into the natural cycle, creating a hybridity in resource development and a loosening visual understanding of what is made by us, and what already exists. This inquiry extended into an interest in land imprints, emptiness, and the body not only as a land catalyst, but as a possible element that is redefining its subject hood. Placing my work within the consideration of human trajectories implicates questions of human-land relationships in a way that opens the Anthropocene to intimate, humanly experience, allowing for a possible trajectory in moving through this overwhelming subject. Moving bodies and shifting identities serve as a unique lens through which to explore shifting object or resource dynamics, specifically in relation to land and land practices.
In diasporic communities, or how I came about to tentatively define them for myself, identity is secluded, hybridized, and put in relation to that of others – which redefines collective ethno-consciousness. This opens a space into the consideration of objecthood, land-memory, and nostalgia, creating a powerful link between material, human-emotion, and our mark-making. Natalie Kononenko demonstrates this dynamic in her memoir of the two most prominent Ukrainian heritage collectors in Canada. Their “emotional approach” (Kononenko) to object-based collection informs how cultural hybridity or a sense of emptiness changes our relationships to our object-based relationships. The purpose of my work therefore functions through gestures of reactivation – in ancestral knowledge, object collection, and how to implicate them in the conversation of human-land relationships as tools to fill the emptiness of understanding, and as groundwork for creating future conversations of belonging.
The resulting work operates as attempts to resolve questions such as:
What is the role of cultural practice in human -land relations?
What makes a material nostalgic and what makes it haunting?
How can I create a space for the development of a language or ceremony that explores acts of imprint making, and cavity filling – whether it is tied to our metaphysical sense of belonging, or our very earthly one?
What is the future if the past is lost?
What is a diaspora?
This explorative purpose is investigated through a cross-disciplinary array of strategies and disciplines, including archaeological methodologies, ethnography, and the psychological study of the emotional as a carrier of memory and material in the context of human history. In this, digging becomes a significant term – a reminder of “our bodily involvement in the world” (Roelstraete), teasing out hidden narratives, object pairings, and creating a context into “excavating the future” (Roelstraete).
Through textual and community research, material-based experimentation peers into overlooked conversations that materialize through collage, unconventional assemblage, and digital spaces that create incongruent, fantastical playgrounds for experimentation with gesture, material process, and language. The work of Yesenia Thibault proves to be a valuable informant of possible technical language used in imagining the future of resources and circulated human materials. In providing surreal, digital spaces, Ukrainian photographer duo Synchrodogs significantly extended my understanding of still digital spaces as very visually rich, earthly foundations for resolving questions of land, identity, and human gesture. These two case studies significantly inform my emerging and speculative interest in empowering the emotional and material as links between land and body – a certain relationship that is crucial to decipher in the context of the unknown environmental future.
The formal aspects of my practice focus heavily on the congelation of material elements. Shifting from intricate arrangements that stand in solitude or in relation, display mechanisms are commonly central, sharing the philosophy that display strategies are complex mechanisms that have an inept ability to play with internal tensions and subconscious narratives – an outlook that derives itself from the assemblage work of New York based Carol Bove. The formal choices within my material practice often focus on creating a sort of density that alludes to a dichotomy of interpersonal material qualities along with very community driven visual connections.
Working in dialogue with the Ukrainian Kosa Kolectiv and their co-founder Olenka Kleban, resource and material are often placed at the center of community projects, workshops, and visual considerations. Working as catalysts that peer into tactile memory, matter/object serve as a vehicle into conversations about our subconscious and forgotten associations with the land that we find ourselves on, and the one we left behind.
My practice increasingly finds itself within scattered cultural communities in a rapidly shifting natural world. Incrementally carving possible conversations about the unknown, my practice, foundationally born from its informants, introduces speculative, narrative, and object-based projects that navigate the Anthropocene age through the diasporic experience as catalyzer. Shifting timidly through the dawn of a new definitions of land and human, I find it crucial to uncover our humanly links to object and material, not only as a destructive force, but also as a powerful tool to initiate our forgotten cultural and earthly memory.
Bove, Carol. “The Artist’s Voice: Carol Bove| The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston”. Youtube, uploaded by ICA Boston, 12 May 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcFyVxcGbfw&feature=emb_title
Grodetska, M. and Hrodetska, M. “The Genetic Code of Ukrainian Embroidery.” Ukrainian Student Scientific and Technical Conference on Current Issues of Humanities, 2017, pp. 202-203.
Translated. Provides an ethnographic overview of the placement of Ukrainian embroidery as a strong emotional act of tradition and geographic unity. Although brief, this text is able to describe the context of this craft’s origins in pagan trafition and bodily practices, which is important to my study of the semantics and land-based spirituality aspect of this craft.
Haraway, Donna. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin.” Environmental Humanities, vol. 6, 2015, pp. 159-165, https://watermark.silverchair.com/159Haraway.pdf. Accessed March 2, 2021.
The Anthropocene is a boundary event, pointing to a need of stretching and recompositing what it means to take care of kin, of the earth, and of our own human frameworks. Haraway powerfully points out that we need stories that are just as big enough to gather the complexities and keep the edges open and greedy for surprising new and old connections.
Kleban, Olenka – Kosa Kolektiv. Personal Interview. 25 February 2021.
Interview with fellow Ukrainian-Canadian artist who explores the necessity of retaining traditional heritage practice, and their power in re-instating sense of body, community, and personhood. An extremely informing talk in the sense of discovering different artistic approaches.
Klingan Katrin, Ashkan Sepahvand, Christoph Rosol, Bernd M. Scherer, editors. Textures of the Anthropocene, Grain Vapour Ray. The MIT Press, 2015.
Collection of essays that explore the placing of concepts such as granularity, sediment, particle travel and elemental currents in the scientific context of climate change, as well as the more poetic and metaphysical considerations of our human-earth relationships. Demonstrates a highly strong consideration of material and resource within the micro and macro levels.
Kononenko, Natalie O. “Collecting Ukrainian Heritage: Peter Orshinsky and Leonard Krawchuk.” Canadian Ethnic Studies, vol. 47, no. 4, 2015, pp. 127-144.
This memoir demonstrates the emotional nostalgia shown by Canadians of Ukrainian diaspora in relation to heritage objects and craft. Useful in considering the different historical approaches of artistically and ethnographically addressing this cultural gap of knowledge.
Synchrodogs. Slightly Altered. 2019, https://synchrodogs.com/Slightly-Altered-1
Photographer duo exploring the interdependency of humans and nature. Their strong visual language informs my navigation of creating spaces of the surreal in order to experience something very ordinary, humanistic and sensual – inherent reality or experiences that tie us all together.
Thibault, Yesenia. Craft in the Anthropocene. 2013, https://yeseniatp.com/CRAFT-IN-THE-ANTHROPOCENE-objects-scenarios.
This artist demonstrates an extremely skilled and informed practice that imagines the future of craft, material, and resource value in the continuation of the Anthropocene age. Useful in considering the prospective and contextual qualities of my own material exploration.
Roelstraete, Dieter. “The Way of the Shovel: On the Archeological Imaginary in Art.” E-flux, Journal # 4, March 2009, https://www.e-flux.com/journal/04/68582/the-way-of-the-shovel-on-the-archeological-imaginary-in-art/
Anderwald, Ruth, Karoline Feyertag, and Leonhard Grond. Dizziness – A Resource. Sternberg Press, 2015
Wall Kimmerer, Robin. Braiding Sweetgrass. Milkweed Editions, 2013.