August 13, 2021 – September 30, 2021
An art and science exhibition commemorating the tragedy in Babyn Yar to be held at the “Laznia” Centre of Contemporary Art in Gdansk from 13 August – 30 September 2021.
The exhibition is curated by the team of Oksana Dovgopolova and Kateryna Semenyuk, organised by the “Past / Future / Art” project and implemented through the Visualise programme of the Ukrainian Institute.
‘Trees of Memory’ is dedicated to the tragedy of Babyn Yar, mass shootings of Jews carried out in Kyiv, Ukraine by the Nazi Germany during World War II, and seeks to develop contemporary instruments of commemoration. This exhibition and the public programme are focused on contemporary practices of working with traumatic past by means of art.
In late September 1941, more than 33 thousand Kyiv Jews were shot in the greenless ravine of Babyn Yar. Babyn Yar is a place of a multilayered tragedy that took away lives of Jews, Roma people, prisoners of war, mental patients and enemies of the Nazi regime. Following World War II, the Soviet regime suppressed attempts to commemorate the tragedy and preserve memory of the victims, causing the process of organised forgetting. As the Soviet Union collapsed, numerous monuments commemorating varied groups of victims were erected in Babyn Yar.
Decades after WWII, trees silently grew over the ravines. They covered the place of the tragedy with their leaves. We can listen to their silent voices and feel that the trees of Babyn Yar heal the wounds of the past. Trees are metaphorical vessels of memory, touching the past with their roots and the future with their branches. From roots to runners, messages from the past are projected to the present day. The past is always nearby, speaking to us in a language that we are yet to understand.
It is impossible for humans to hear ‘a voice of a tree’, however, modern technology allows us to do so. The installation presents us a visualisation of a tree’s “voice”: electromagnetic impulses of the Babyn Yar trees were scanned by the team of new media artist Olga Kisseleva, and then converted into a visual representation.
Curated by Oksana Dovgopolova, Kateryna Semenyuk
Organised by the Past / Future / Art in partnership with the Ukrainian Institute.
The installation is developed in collaboration with Sorbonne University and the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS).
Past / Future / Art is a cultural memory platform that implements educational and research projects, and a public programme of activities to involve the general public in working through the past.
Olga Kisseleva is one of 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 launched the common theoretic-artistic research.
The first presentation of the installation of the Babyn Yar trees’ voices happened in the frame of the Memory Garden project in IZOLYATSIA (Kyiv, Ukraine) in 2020.
Olga Kisseleva’s works are present in many 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.