In developing of government agricultural, employment, immigration, security, and cultural strategies, powerful individuals curate policy instruments to serve their countries. Their impact on the identity and life of the individual and the collective inspired these works. The photographs and sculptures of ERASURE: Memory and The Power of Politics have three points of departure: policy instruments approved by the elite leadership of the Soviet Politburo; archival photographs of life in Soviet Ukraine; and, the Ukrainian Language reader - Tyt I Tam - a product of the Canadian governments Multiculturalism Act and provincial Heritage Language Programing efforts of the 1970s.
The policies that inform ERASURE: Memory and The Power of Politics involve the Soviet Politburo instituted instruments resulting in the artificial starvation of approximately 5 million people in Soviet Ukraine and 3.8 million Ukrainians (1931-1934), the repression of the Ukrainian cultural and political class, and the destruction of the idea of a Ukrainian national identity. Pulitzer-prize award winning historian, Anne Applebaum, in her new book – Red Famine - argues that these deaths were no accident. As she notes at the beginning of the book, “The Soviet Union’s disastrous decision to force peasants to give up their land and join collective farms; the eviction of “kulaks,” the wealthier peasants, from their homes; the chaos that followed”—these policies were “all ultimately the responsibility of Joseph Stalin, the General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.”
The photograph was and continues to be a key instrument of the state as it erases the being of individuals and rewrites the history of a nation. This historical prevalent practice of removing and/or altering documents and re-writing history continues to be a common practice of totalitarian regimes, including Putin’s Russia. The liberalization and humanization of Canadian federal and/or provincial immigration policies, on the other hand, lead to support for economic and agricultural development, and humanitarian, and multicultural programs, among others. Policies associated with these interests date back to 1828, and include 127 years of Ukrainian immigration resulting in the third largest population of ethnic Ukrainians after Ukraine and Russia. I am one of them and my identity has been shaped by both contexts. I ask: “How does an individual navigate when caught between two worlds?” As much as this is the exploration of a specific cultural group, it points to the impact on the individual and universal, and implicates the stagecraft of current international political and economic power.