Tetiana Bohuslavska – the second artist-in-residence within the Thinking Through the Museum program
Tetiana Bohuslavska is the second artist-in-residence within the Thinking Through the Museum (TTTM) program. The residency’s special edition is addressed to Ukrainian artists and was programmed by the National Heritage & Traumatic Memory research cluster in response to the war in Ukraine. In Poland, the artist’s hosts are POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw, and FestivALT in Kraków.
Tetiana Bohuslavska is an artist and poet born in 1990 in Kyiv. She graduated in psychology at the Dragomanov State Pedagogical University. She works in the areas of photography, video, performance, painting, instalation and mixed media. Her projects deal with feminist issues, psychological well-being including war-inflicted trauma, and ecology.
Tetiana developed several projects devoted to psychological health and social stigma, touching upon the issues related to the body and to feminism. These are photographic series "Hers" (2016-2017), "Melancholy" (2016-2018, includes also video-performance), "How to cope with internal pain when you’re alone" (2018) which were shown at exhibitions and video art festivals in Istanbul, London, Carlisle, Berlin, Athens, Thessaloniki and Kyiv (the last one as a personal exhibition).
In 2019, Tetiana began working on an art project dealing with war trauma titled "For Healing", due to the Russian invasion on Ukraine (since 2014). The project involves theoretical studies on psychological trauma and healing, with the premise that it is requisite for a society to talk about these subjects through various forms of art. The artist uses painting, installation and performance. In 2021, she was a participant in the "Postcolonial/Decolonial Feminism and Arts" workshop and seminar program organized by Room to Bloom, a feminist platform for ecological and postcolonial European narratives.
With the new phase of the war, a full-scale Russian invasion on Ukraine affecting all spheres of life—mental, physical, people of different generations, the environment—the scale of losses is already enormous. By asking herself how she could be useful as a person and as an artist, Tetiana made a series of works which related to this catastrophe, with the intention of working with her own emotions and inviting others so that those who felt the need for it were able to meet them, too. The works were made during a supportive residency for Ukrainian artists in Ostromecko by the Municipal Cultural Centre in Bydgoszcz and in cooperation with BWA—Municipal Art Gallery in Bydgoszcz. The project was exhibited under the title "I Need Time and Space to Cry" at the BWA.
During the TTTM residency, the artist plans to focus on working with the theme of trauma and memory, creating artworks that include a therapeutic aspect, open to the viewers and inviting them to interact. Tetiana will work with sculpture and flexible materials, highlighting the transformative power of art. She also intends to continue her work on solidarity, as she considers the preservation of the memory of different forms of solidarity and support to be an essential part of the healing process for now and for the future. She also plans to develop further her work on commemorating the victims of war.
The artist wishes to work on these topics and implement them in relation to the wartime catastrophes of the past, exploring institutional resources, museum archives, collections and sites. She intends to work with selected texts by Deborah Vogel, Zygmunt Bauman and Bruno Schulz. She says:
"When I learned about their life stories and works (theirs, and many others, including Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, Paul Celan), I wanted to believe that a calamity such as the Holocaust could not happen in the twenty-first century—that it was a thing of the past. Now I return to these voices when the war is raging, as the voices of the outstanding actors of culture, philosophers—voices that inspire in the dark times. From the beginning of a full-scale war with Russia, it became necessary to find a name for the enemy. Modern Russians are not the same as the fascist and Nazis of the last century. Although as far as brutality is concerned, Russians have a lot in common with the Nazis. It's widespread now to call the Russians ‘Russists’, and an ideology of conquering other countries and their peoples at any price, imposing their governing system, and language is referred to as ‘Russism'. Ukraine is fighting for its freedom and independence, preserving Ukrainian culture and protecting values of life, freedom, dignity, and human rights."
The Thinking Through the Museum project brings together international scholars, students, museum professionals, and community representatives from 20 museums, universities, and NGOs in Canada, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, and the USA. The team works in and beyond museum settings to co-produce exhibitions and design tools, and to explore alternative forms of heritage mobilization where communities can set their own agendas.
The National Heritage & Traumatic Memory cluster explores how arts-based practices can help circumvent institutional constraints and engage communities via non-traditional sites and performative modes of display and participation. Working primarily in Poland, NHTM considers how histories of colonialism, the Holocaust, and communism meet, and develops forms of reflection, redress, and repair to address this geographical region’s violently-lost historical diversity. NHTM develops context-sensitive concepts and tools to expand critical museology’s Western-centrism, and collaborates across clusters to develop minority artist residencies, inter alia to engage Poland’s Jewish, Roma, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, African-diaspora, LGBTQ+ and refugee communities.