Katya Grokhovsky talks about her upcoming installation which will be exhibited at the BRIC Biennial Volume III in Brooklyn from February 7 – April 7, 2019. This project was proudly supported by Asylum’s Small Grants Program.
The Future is Bright is an ongoing project, which I developed as a vehicle for researching my own legacy through my family’s history, specifically focusing around the narrative of my 93-year-old only surviving grandmother, a veteran of World War II and a Holocaust survivor. She has a fascinating story to tell, which exists as a vague folklore in my family and of which I have been aware for most of my adult life, without much detail. I filmed her over a period of two years for several months at a time, during my yearly visits to Melbourne, Australia, to where we migrated from Ukraine in 1992, and where she since resides alongside the rest of my family. We shared meals, we talked, she sang songs, which she used to sing to the wounded during the war, stationed as a 16 year old cook-dietitian and an amateur singer, at the roaming Soviet Army hospitals in Ukraine and Russia.
Throughout my work on this project, I have been able to peel back several generational layers of history via conversations, observation, interviews and archival digs. It took some time for me to begin processing the incredible story of survival, as well as deep tragedy of our family through my own work by writing, creating video works, paintings, performances and sculptures. As one of my responses, I asked my father to perform for my camera, bearing one of my identity-obstructing large mask-head pieces, walking slowly down the quiet suburban Melbourne street, where my parental home is situated, carrying a duffel bag, with which we migrated. I became interested in conceptualizing the incomprehensibility of trauma and migration account further, igniting a feeling of alienation and ultimate displacement.
Katya Grokhovsky, The Immigrant, 2018, video still
The first installment of the project takes the form of a site-specific installation, which includes a wall-painted mural, two channel videos and a sculpture. The mural consists of shapes and silhouettes culled from the videos of my grandmother’s story and my father’s performance, acting as a wallpaper backdrop. The sculpture is a deconstructed and reassembled sofa, positioned in front of two TV monitors, inspired by my grandmother’s couch on which she sits in her house, when we talk, performing as a non-functional object, conjuring up a distant memory of comfort, denied by the glossy, painted hard surface of it’s acquired artifice. The installation acts as a cradle for reinterpretation of an ordeal in the past, which is so difficult to fathom in the present.
Katya Grokhovsky, The Future is Bright, 2019, detail
Katya Grokhovsky, The Future is Bright, 2019, install detail
Katya Grokhovsky, The Future is Bright, 2018, video still
During this process, I have become acutely aware of my own mortality and existence, purpose, and relationship to places, history, and lineage. As my grandmother told the core of her story, when her grandfather, a Rabbi, was summoned by Germans and shot alongside his wife and his father with thousands of other Jewish people in the town of Rovno, the history came alive and crushing. I froze, as she told the story of several survivors of that massacre, who witnessed her grandfather give a calming, hopeful speech before his own death to the other inevitably dead fellow humans as they dug their own graves. Perhaps, there is only silence in response, but better yet, a hopeful Future, full of Art.
The BRIC Biennial opening reception will take place on February 6 from 7 – 9pm at BRIC in Brooklyn, NY. Click here for more information.
February 7 – April 7, 2019
Tue – Sat, 11am-7pm
Sat & Sun, 11am-5pm