The Plant Gave Us Everything: the Role of Art and Community Engagement in the Cultural Transformation of Donbas Monotowns (SAVE THE DATE)
June 24 — July 2, 2019, as part of the project De-industrialization and Conflict in Donbas, the Donbas Studies project is launching the Summer School 2019, a school for young researchers and artists with a particular focus on the cultural potential of the communities of monofunctional cities of the Donbas, namely, in Sieverodonetsk, Lysychansk and Rubizhne.
The main themes are the (mono)town, the revitalisation of (post)industrial spaces, cultural and creative practices for building communities, cultural memory, cultural studies, the transformation of public spaces and sustainable urban ecosystems.
“The plant gave me everything: it gave me a flat, and a life, my kids are working, the lads, doing no worse than their father. So I have something to be proud of” — one character says in the film In the East (directed by Piotr Armianovski; 2015). The city around the plant, the city beyond the plant. What is a monotown; how does а city-forming enterprise affect the life of the community and its ideas of the past and future? Deindustrialisation and conflict are the main challenges faced by the residents of the monofunctional cities in Donbas today. What is the role of cultural and artistic practices in defining and redefining cultural identity in this context?
Considering the initiatives being already implemented in the region, the successful revitalisation of local cultural economies is only possible from within the community. Arts & Culture are the principal means in this process since they represent new approaches to developing a shared future for the community and simultaneously unite the inhabitants establishing a shared sense of identity in the city. Although discursive cultural interventions rarely result in high-quality transformations; however, they help form sustainable connections between individuals and institutions. For instance, talking about the Centre for Contemporary Art in Sieverodonetsk (an installation piece where the artists fenced off some land in the town and put up posters announcing the establishment of a non-existent art centre), one local inhabitant interpreted the need for institutions that support the development of the community’s potential: “Without art, people degenerate.” Thus, art and culture are the foundations of civil society.
Summer School Objectives
- Strengthening of the potential of local activists and the creation of new opportunities for their growth via interregional and international collaborations;
- setting an environment for the ideas exchange, knowledge gaining, and skills practising;
- research of urban, regional identities and post-industrial transformation;
- defining cultural and political peculiarities of the industrial region and participation in the formation of media discourse;
- reflecting on artistic and research practices and the way they could be employed from within the community (not as the means operated by external actors);
- the advancement of values related to the preservation of heritage and the creation of new forms of community cooperation within the formerly industrial region.
Course Structure at the Summer School
The theoretical element of the school will take place in Kyiv, Ukraine. Seminar themes and leaders may include the following (participation depends on funding):
- Life After the Plant: the Revitalisation of Industrial Heritage Objects. Dr Irina Sklokina (Centre for Urban History of East Central Europe);
- Cultural Memory and Identity in Transformation. Dr Victoria Donovan (University of St Andrews);
- The Political and the Aesthetic in the Construction of Sustainable Communities. Dr Jeffrey Murer (University of St Andrews);
- Public History. Dr Mykola Borovyk (Taras Shevchenko National University).
Fieldwork will take place in Sieverodonetsk, Lysychank and Rubizhne. The activities on sight may include visits to the Nitrogen Museum, the Mining Museum, Shakhmatnoe, the Rubizhne dye plant, a meeting with local photographers, taxi-quest.
The results of the school will be a series of original project-reflections about the situation in post-industrial regions, both in Ukraine and other parts of Europe. The intention is that these projects will stimulate local initiatives and present models for making art and undertaking social efforts with minimal resources and the active participation of the local community. Hopefully, the participants of the school will not only work on studying the local context through their practice but will also help shape the local community’s understanding of their history, legacy, landscape and environment.
Who can apply
Artists, curators, researchers, NGO activists, urbanists, students, and postgraduates, as well as those who were born, live in or are familiar with the cities of the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts.
The school’s working languages are Russian, Ukrainian, English.
Application Form: https://bit.ly/2KZZH9p
Deadline (May 11, 11:59 pm, UTC +3). The results will be announced after May 12.
Information and Application
For more information, please, contact [email protected].