“When does history become a memory? How does that memory record a truth? What do you do with that truth?”
My family immigrated to Canada from Ukraine in 1986 in search of search work and land. More than a decade later with their homeland at war with Britain, and British Empire, including Canada, thousands of immigrants like my family were declared “enemy aliens”. 8,579 men, women and children were detained in 24 camps across the country.
The fate of my family is an ongoing investigation. I am intrigued by how we memorialize historical events. Do we occlude the experiences of marginalized or subaltern groups.
My work addresses the absence of awareness of internment, something that has gone on for more than 100 years, on all continents, and, in almost all countries.
This is my truth drawn from their collective stories. This is their story. It is my story. It is our story.
The project was developed as a collaboration with art historian Taous R. Dahmani (Panthéon-Sorbonne/Oxford), Library Archives Canada, the Canadian War Museum, the Canadian History Museum, their employees, and other organizations and individuals.
Lesia Maruschak (1961) is a research-based artist working with photography, text, video and sound. She approaches photography as a dialogic medium, negotiating historical and contemporary events, materials and processes, the personal and collective. The stories exposed are carefully printed, pigmented, tinted and hand-finished artworks that invite the viewer to interpret the image through their own mind’s eye view.
Her works have received international awards and have been shown widely and published internationally. The book form has been central to her work and her artist’s book TRANSFIGURATION is held in major institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Boston Athenaeum, Stanford University, Columbia University, and the Library of Congress. Her book MARIA received Grand Prix Award at Kyiv Arsenal Book Festival and was shortlisted for the Prix du livre at Rencontres d’Arles and the Athens Photobook Festival. Maruschak has lectured at conferences such as FORMAT 19 at the University of Derby, UK (2019) and Why Remember? Sarajevo, BA (2019). As a 2019 Canada Endowment Recognition Fund grant recipient, Maruschak has just finished a film on Canada’s First World War internment operations.
Maruschak has an MA and MBA. She spends her time between Alvena and Ottawa, Canada.