The Art & Science exhibition "Trees of Memory: Roots and Runners" and an accompanying public program took place in 2021 in Poland in partnership with the Ukrainian Institute and the Laznia Center for Contemporary Art. The project is dedicated to the Babyn Yar tragedy. It aims at elaborating current artistic practices of working through the traumatic past.
TREES OF MEMORY: ROOTS AND RUNNERS. THE EXHIBITION
13 AUGUST — 30 SEPTEMBER
TREES OF MEMORY: ROOTS AND RUNNERS. THE EXHIBITION
The exhibition is implemented through the Visualise programme of the Ukrainian Institute.
At the end of September 1941, more than 33,000 Kyiv Jews were shot in Babyn Yar. The ravine became the site of a multi-layered tragedy, claiming the lives of Jews, Roma, prisoners of war, the mentally ill, and enemies of the Nazi regime. In the postwar years, Babyn Yar experienced a regime of organised forgetting, confronted with the desperate efforts to preserve the memory of those who respected the dignity of the dead.
After World War II, trees rose silently on the slopes for decades. Covering the tragedy site, they seemed to heal the wounds inflicted on the world by humans. The trees are metaphorical memory capsules that touch yesterday with their roots and tomorrow with their runner. From roots to runners, messages are conveyed from the past to the present. The past is always near, it speaks to us in a language that must be recognised.
People cannot hear the "voices of trees," but contemporary technologies aid us. The artist Olga Kisseleva, jointly with the engineer Christof Petio from The French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the team of the Sorbonne University, scanned the electromagnetic pulses of the trees in Babyn Yar and created their graphic representation. In the 4-channel video installation, the visitor can see a visualisation of "voices" and the portraits of black poplar and maple.
Curatorial tour of the exhibition "Trees of Memory: Roots and Runners"
Photos of the exhibition and project opening Photo by Bogna Kociumbas
Participants: Olga Kisseleva, Ryszard W. Kluszczyński
Olga Kisseleva works in science and media art. She is involved in the long-running EDEN project which aims to find methods of communication with plants and between the plants. In the "Trees of Memory: Roots and Runners" project, the artist supplemented her experience of "listening to" the voices of trees with commemorative meanings. The exhibition presents a visualization of the "voices" of trees from Babyn Yar — one of the most known places of the Holocaust by Bullets in Ukraine. The conversation is assembled around the questions of the art & science possibilities.
Olga Kisseleva, one of the key figures in the international art & science movement and a professor at Sorbonne University. In 1995 she became a member of the High Institute of Visual Arts of Pompidou Center, where she launched the theoretical-artistic research program; Ryszard W. Kluszczyński, media art writer, curator, professor of cultural and media studies at Lodz University, Poland, Chair of School of Media and Audiovisual Culture, Head of the Department of Electronic Media and professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz.
The presentation was an online guided tour, within which the participants discussed the exhibition concept and illuminated the peculiarities of applying art & science tools in commemorative projects. The event included a Q & A session.
Tetyana Filevska, Creative Director of the Ukrainian Institute; Anastasiia Yevsieieva, Head of Visual Art Programme of the Ukrainian Institute; Oksana Dovgopolova and Kateryna Semenyuk, curators of the cultural memory platform Past / Future / Art.
As part of the public program of the project "Trees of Memory: Roots and Runners" the "Past / Future / Art" platform also organised an online discussion on the platform of the Ars Electronica Arts and Technology Festival. For more information please see the event page.
Cover photo — Olga Kiseleva, Portrait of the Black Poplar, still from the video, 2019
A public institution affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. Its mission is to strengthen Ukraine's international standing through the means of cultural diplomacy. Ukrainian Institute facilitates international connections between people and institutions and creates opportunities for Ukraine to interact and cooperate with the world. Visualise is a long-term programme by the Ukrainian Institute aimed at supporting exhibition projects outside of Ukraine. The programme provides opportunities of co-programming, co-financing, and communications support to international exhibitions that contribute to promoting the art of Ukraine globally and establishing institutional partnerships.
One of the key figures in the international art & science movement and a professor at Sorbonne University. In 1995 she became a member of the High Institute of Visual Arts of Pompidou Center, where she launched the theoretical-artistic research program. Olga Kisseleva's works are presented in museums around the world, including the City of Paris Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou (Paris), Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma (Helsinki), MoMA (New York), and the Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao), etc.
Currently one of Poland's most important institutions engaged in contemporary art. Their mission is to present the latest artistic phenomena in their process of transformation, to respond to the cultural and civilisational phenomena of the modern world — while at the same time to educate within this scope through the use of new media and technologies. In its program, the centre focuses on diverse and multi-faceted combinations of art and science, the phenomenon of art modifying urban tissue, experimental music and films, video art, artistic events at the junction of disciplines, and cooperation to benefit local communities. The centre is located in two facilities in Gdańsk.
The project Past / Future / Art is implemented in partnership with forumZFD Programme in Ukraine. forumZFD is an international non-governmental organization, which supports civil society in countries affected by war and conflict. forumZFD works with experts in conflict transformation in Germany, and numerous other countries in Europe, Middle East and South-East Asia.