I had a chance to curate the exhibition Catharsis which was exhibited in December-January 2022-2023 at the Bildungsforum gegen Antiziganismus in Berlin.
While the rest of the world observing the ongoing war through the media, Roma and (pro)Roma women in Ukraine currently are encountering a war that started on February 24th, when Russia invaded Ukraine. They are witnessing a whole range of traumatic experiences of forced displacement, emigration, separation from families and friends, and loss of their beloved ones.
“Catharsis” is translated from Greek and means "purification" from negative emotions through art. In order to diminish the effect of the ongoing war on transgenerational trauma we provided art healing support to a small group of 10 Roma and (pro)Roma women, who are mostly non-professional artists and victims of the current war in Ukraine. The created artworks during the healing practice expose us to their emotional passage related to the personal vision of the war.
The Catharsis exhibition shows how “personal” can be a strong manifestation of the current political situation. All these women have so different and unique experiences, but what unites them that an adaptation to the new realities of the war times. Being a Roma woman nowadays demands a lot of mental resilience to face war and discrimination while at the same time believing in the existence of the future.
Artworks created by: Vira Dranhoi, Olha Dementova, Izaura Dryma, Natali Tomenko, Diana Hryhorychenko, Anastasiia Tambovtseva, Marianna Maksymova, Nina Maliekina, Anastasiia Zhuravel.
Curators of the exhibition:
Natali Tomenko, Chinara Majidova
To read more: https://yngo-arca.com/en/exhibition-catharsis-en/
Through my mind to your eyes
I was a curator and art producer of the "Through my mind to your eyes" exhibition.
The project is one of the first attempts of Ukrainian and Romani researchers, artists and public activists to cover the topic of Roma Childrens' memory from the time of the Second World War. During the project, there was established an exhibition that consists of a series of digital art posters. Each poster displays a story about survival strategies: food search, livelihoods, support and salvation, heavy losses and the harsh nature of the war, faced by the smallest witnesses and participants themselves, children.
It was important for me to create graphic images without limiting the usual illustration of stories. The idea is to transfer personal experience through the bright symbols of things that became key in children's memoirs, on the one hand, will make it possible to convey to a wide audience the few unique stories that were able to fix. On the other hand, it brings the problem of war and childhood to another level of reflection, where the experience of survival in a hostile environment for a child of the Second World War could be universal and reflect the histories of hundreds and thousands of other children not only in the wars of the past, but also in the armed conflicts of the present, in particular, a topical for us war in the East of our country.
In different countries, the tragedy that happened to the Roma occurred in different ways, but what was definitely common to all the numerous groups in different countries – the suffering of children. I hope that the search for common symbols and ideas about the past will give an impetus to the development of new forms of representation of the Roma themselves in public space.
The project also draws attention to the problems of childhood in the current conditions of increasing the level of xenophobia and homophobia, when, due to the inaction of the relevant authorities and aggravation of the displays of right-wing extremism in the spontaneous settlements of some socially excluded groups of the Roma, the smallest inhabitants, – children suffer most of all during attacks and arsons.