Uprootedness & Hybridity

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Uprootedness & Hybridity: Researching Eastern-European intergenerational trauma in the arts and theatre (free online seminar)

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Uprootedness & Hybridity: Researching Eastern-European intergenerational trauma in the arts and theatre

Online seminar initiated by Monika Dorniak

Produced by Counterpoints Arts as part of Refugee Week 2021

19th of June 2021, 15.30h (CET) 14.30h (UK) -18.00h (CET)

A Zoom link will be sent to registrants on the day of the event.


With contributions by: Monika Dorniak & Susanna Rydz, Olesya Khromeychuk, Nina Mdivani, Jessica Ostrowicz, Red Zenith Collective

Image courtesy of Monika Dorniak

Our bodies store memories that far exceed our lifetimes, and the global increase in migrations and forced displacements leads us to new reflections on our belonging and identity. In the past decades, artists, scientists and historians have become increasingly interested in the research of intergenerational trauma, and the impact of our ancestors traumatic experiences on our present identities. Wars do not only deconstruct landscapes and bodies, but destroy cultural archives and artefacts, which leave descendants with no less than fragmented images of their bygone ‘realities’.

This seminar will introduce artistic quests across Eastern European history from four different perspectives. While sharing our personal and intimate reflections, we are unravelling the complexity of intergenerational trauma collectively, and allow space for different questions that may lead us to new answers.

Transmission of trauma is not limited to genes only, but could also be experienced through its reenactment in the arts and theatre.

In our seminar, Ukrainian historian and theatre maker Olesya Khromeychuk describes the ongoing war in Donbas, and introduces three documentary plays, based on war testimonies of witnesses or participants.

The traumatic events of the Shoah and their impact on the Jewish culture are a major theme for British artist Jessica Ostrowicz, whose sculptural works introduce healing rituals and repetitions.

In their lecture performance German-Polish artists Monika Dorniak and Susanna Rydz analyse hybridity, othering, and their ancestors experience of oppression.

New York-based curator Nina Mdivani will talk about the impact of the multiple Russian invasions of Georgia in the 20th century on cultural and artistic processes, and questions how art can reflect historical meaning-making and victimhood by bridging fiction and reality.

The lectures conclude with a group discussion that is open to the audience.

The seminar will end with a healing workshop by The Red Zenith Collective.

Monika Dorniak is a German-Polish artist with an interdisciplinary background in choreography, psychology and design, who often merges media – specifically performance, (textile) sculpture, workshop, video, photography. In her multimedia practice she is exploring the structures of the Self through a multifaceted analysis of body, mind and environment, by taking into consideration the regressive history of the domination of nature, and social power structures. Her auto-biographical research on intergenerational trauma, migration and belonging is carried forward within her ongoing collaborations with scientists and diverse communities. As an artist she has presented her works at international institutions, such as Tate Exchange in Tate Modern London (2017 & 2018), Foreign Affairs Festival at Berliner Festspiele (2014) and Arts Catalyst in London (2016), and as guest lecturer at Al-Quds Bard College in Palestine (2018), Chelsea College in London (2017) and Garage Museum in Moscow (2019). Dorniak holds a Master Degree in Art and Science (Department Fine Art) from the Central Saint Martins in London (2017).

Olesya Khromeychuk is a historian of 20th-century East-Central Europe. She has a PhD in History from University College London. She also runs a theatre company, Molodyi Teatr London, that stages documentary pieces exploring urgent social and political themes. She is the author of ‘Undetermined’ Ukrainians. Post-War Narratives of the Waffen SS ‘Galicia’ Division (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2013) and A Loss. The Story of a Dead Soldier Told by His Sister (Stuttgart: ibidem, forthcoming).

Nina Mdivani is Georgian-born and New York-based independent curator, writer and researcher. Her academic background includes International Relations and Gender Studies from Tbilisi State University, Mount Holyoke College and, most recently, Museum Studies from City University of New York. Nina's book, King is Female, published in October 2018 in Berlin by Wienand Verlag explores the lives of three Georgian women artists and is the first publication to investigate questions of the feminine identity in the context of the Eastern European historical, social, and cultural transformation of the last twenty years. Nina regularly writes for outlets such as Arte Fuse, White Hot Magazine, Arte & Lusso, Eastern European Film Bulletin, Indigo Magazine, Art Spiel. As curator and writer Nina is interested in discovering hidden narratives within dominant cultures with focus on minorities and migrations. Her recent exhibitions among others include This is Not My Tree at NARS Foundation, Brooklyn, Rooms & Beings at 68 Projects, Berlin and New York Meets Tbilisi: Defining Otherness at Kunstraum and Assembly Room, New York City. Public Digital Art Platform is another new global initiative that is curated by Nina.

Jessica Ostrowicz was born in Birmingham, UK in 1990, went on to study at the Academy of Fine Art in Dresden, Germany, and after at the Royal College of Art in London. Repetition and ritual as compulsive elevators and placating alleviators of trauma are central to her work, and her artistic research focuses on the transgenerational effects of trauma on the development of rituals. Using a litany of fragile motifs and small gestures — assembled, cut, sewn, drawn, folded, cast, welded, recorded, collected, archived — and repeating them to a level of absurdity over long periods of time, the resulting works are purpose-built for mourning those ancestral ghosts which continue to impact us today. Exhibitions include: Flight Test, at Siobhan Davies Dance Studios, London; Family Business, at Centrum Judaicum, Berlin; Intervention, at Kunsthaus Dahlem; Ode to Yankee Jack, public art commission, Watchet; Pale Fire, at Galerie Plan D, Dusseldorf; Yours Sincerely, at The Dome, Moscow. Ostrowicz lives and works as an artist in London.

Susanna Rydz, born and raised in Hamburg, studied Stage Design at Berlin University of the Arts and was active as a translator for the polish-german abortion rights group „Ciocia Basia“. They currently study in the MA program of Applied Theatre Studies of Justus-Liebig-Universität and work as a performer, activist in queer education and social worker with cognitively disabled adults in Hesse, Germany.

The Red Zenith Collective was founded on the belief that art thrives on a strong sense of community, and is dedicated to womxn creatives from Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. Its founders, curator Marta Grabowska and photographer Zula Rabikowska are both from Poland.

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Organiser Counterpoints Arts

Organiser of Uprootedness & Hybridity

Counterpoints Arts is a leading national organisation in the field of arts, migration and cultural change. Our mission is to support and produce the arts by and about migrants and refugees, seeking to ensure that their contributions are recognized and welcomed within British arts, history and culture.

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