Family History Projects
5 Ways to Make Your Family History Important
The Root System Exhibition Series
The project is dedicated to the stories of families who have been living in Ekaterinburg since the pre-revolutionary years. The mission of the project is to show changing points in the history of the country and the city through the stories of common people, members of the same family. The project gave birth to six exhibitions. The first one was devoted to the history of the Uvarov family, which have been living in Ekaterinburg since the foundation of the city in 1724. Dealings with each family took two or three months. During this time, we have looked through the surviving family archives and relics, prepared the text for the exhibition, and picked items. Many relatives attended the opening of most of the exhibitions. Some of them met each other for the first time. A part of the participating families were invited by the Ural Genealogical Society, a partner of the exhibition series. The rest of them were found during other projects of the museum.
Grandma's House Documentary Performance
Ekaterinburg resident Irina Burova shared her family history with playwright Irina Lyadova. She showed her albums and diaries from the family archive. These materials laid the foundation for the performance.

For Irina Burova, it was important to tell the story of her family who had lived in the Nizhne-Isetsky District since the middle of the 19th century (this territory is currently called Chkalovsky District and is located next to Khimmash Microdistrict). Her notes revealed some valuable signs of the time and place. In order to gather enough material for a comprehensive performance, playwright Dina Artemkina interviewed Irina Burova a few times and tried to preserve almost all of her speech patterns in the script.

The plot of the play is based on the fate of Irina Burova herself, on the memories she still has of the house of her childhood, and of her family's values. Her personal story resonates with memories we all have of our grandmothers and feelings toward the house we were raised in. The dramatics of life is interlaced with Ural folklore songs.

The opening scene of the Grandma's House solo performance features Asya Zapolskikh, an actress of the Open Studio Theater, handing over a spindle with thread to Irina, the author of the memories. This gesture is symbolic not only in the context of the production. It is a metaphor of the concept of the Ekaterinburg History Museum Development: The history of the city is not about collecting artifacts, but about memories and stories of its citizens passed down from generation to generation, from hand to hand, by word of mouth.
Irina Lyadova found a perfect genre for Grandma's House. It is a verbatim theater that only vaguely resembles a conventional theatrical production. The hut of the storyteller's great-grandmothers Yulia and Natalyushka Fetisova is presented as a doll's house. Right in front of spectators, this little house is filled with characters. Hand-made Slavic amulet dolls representing narrator's relatives, amusing cartoonish pictures featuring skiing together with Dad or low-flying planes. Who is it on the stage? A puppet artist telling a tale? Or a mother who made a tiny doll house for her children? Or maybe an adult woman trying to bring back her happy childhood? The boundary between life and theater is blurred.

When a child's toy falls into the hands of an adult, it remains a means of building a whole new world that abides by the laws the author has invented. But Grandma's House is more about a nostalgia for the lost paradise: The real grandma's house has long been empty, because, as George Paradzhanov's film said, "everyone is gone." And it's only a creative effort that can breathe life into it. This is exactly what Irina Burova and Asya Zapolskikh, who impersonated Irina, are doing: They are creating beauty to give a second life to what many of us keep deep inside those dusty albums or our mind palaces. The actress is wearing a dress sewn from a photograph of Irina's grandmother. Yet another attempt to give material form to the distant past.

An important topic that Irina Lyadova brings up in the performance is the mastery, the handed over experience of creation. Grandma's House teaches us to tie threads, both literally and figuratively: help a weak-eyed grandmother pick up loops and knit socks, weave lace, sew dolls, do a cross stitch and thus connect the past and the present, tie knots in a handkerchief, keep and transmit our memories of a person who is now gone, of their craft and spiritual qualities, which, of course, cannot simply melt away, fall into oblivion.

By Elena Azanova
The project was funded by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF). You can find the spectators' experience survey here.
Family Album Immersive Performance
A unique event that combines features of a theatrical production, a game, a live art performance, and a therapy session.

The main characters of the Family Album tell stories that they find important about their living or long-deceased relatives. The starting point for the narration is old family photos. Spectators can find out what life was like two, three or four generations ago: not from history books but straight from the stories of those people's descendants. This performance also enables spectators to see the past as something powerful and alive. At some point, the audience also becomes immersed in the performance.

The main point of the event is to give the participants a better understanding of their family system and let them see how this system works in other families. Photographs play a really important role in telling the story, as well as in establishing certain senses and images. They serve as a kind of portal that leads you to the family system space.

The psychological logic of the event is as follows. Those people that our heroes talk about are significant, key figures. They are important to the participants and their whole families. Their descriptions, on the one hand, help strengthen and expand ties within the family (in this case, we are rather talking about vertical connections between different generations). On the other hand, they shape an understanding of what exactly one finds important in some person, which of their qualities and actions excite one, and what these facts can tell about one. Naturally, you can always tell this to a close friend, but usually, if there is a group of people involved, the very deed of telling the story generates more energy and gives you more opportunities to understand something. And besides, it is usually a big deal to find spare minutes for this in our busy and hectic modern life.
The performance lasts 3 to 3.5 hours. Surprisingly enough, such a long play does not exhaust spectators: they are emotionally and actively involved in the process. When the performance is over, those wishing to stay (usually most of spectators) can discuss their thoughts and emotions. This takes another 20 to 40 minutes. All the performances had approximately the same effect. They established an incredible feeling of warmth and love, a sense of connection with other participants and your relatives.

The project was funded by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF). Project group in VKontakte. You can find the participants' experience survey here.
Implemented as part of People's Universities 2.0. The school listeners explored the fundamentals of genealogy, learned to build family trees and genealogical tabls, and organized family archive data using the templates and algorithms they studied. They got an insight into information potential of their family documents, photographs, and other valuable items. On top of that, they made their own pilot projects based on the collected materials and research. You can find the results of their projects here.
The Art of Photo Archives course was conducted by People's Universities 2.0 in partnership with the Mart Center for Contemporary Photography. The participants gained practical experience in research and creative work with family archives and local history using techniques which are typical of contemporary photography and art.

The project was open to everyone. At the start, there was a group of fifty people. The participants were offered to create projects based on their private photo archives. Before getting started, they attended a course of lectures on how contemporary photography interprets archives, how differently science and art treat the past, and why private family archives are so valuable. Top 15 projects were selected for the final exhibition. Among the authors, there were both experienced artists and people who had little to do with art in their everyday life.

The key themes of the exhibition were time and memory. With the passage of time, a veil of oblivion inevitably separates generations. Most of the artists were driven by an attempt to overcome this distance, to resurrect the memory of long-forgotten ancestors, or to reconstruct their own memories.

It is commonly believed that history is described in textbooks and scientific works. But there is also a personal history: the history of those people who are invisible for textbooks. Each of us creates history by simply living our lives, but the evidence of this life often remains hidden in family archives.

While a scientific description of the past events demands attention to detail, the task of an artist is to see a bigger picture, to notice universal problems. This is exactly what the participants of the Forget Me Not exhibition tried to do by exploring the stories of their families.
As a result, the Forget Me Not exhibition takes four rooms.

The first exhibition room is dedicated to time. The main project here is the work by Svetlana Kruglova called Three Sisters. This is a photo report with pictures of three sisters taken from 1965 to 1991. Under each photo there is a short text featuring the main events of those years. There are two types of history. One is lived by a normal person, the other (history of wars, celebrities, etc.) is written in textbooks. The same hall features two more works on the same topic: ­Genealogical Meter by Olesya Frich and On Shift! by Lyudmila Koltushkina.

The theme of the second exhibition hall is family. A large panel picture by Anna Butyrskikh features five or six generations of the same family depicted behind the back of the protagonist, a teenage son of the artist. On the wall next to it, there is a reconstruction of a child's photo album made by Sofya Razumovskaya in a theatrical, playful manner. For some reason, her parents did not take many pictures of her as a child. There is only one picture left. She used it as a leitmotif for her project. Building upon her childhood memories and the interior of her house, Sofya managed to recreate her lost childhood. Behind the columns, there are Little Secrets by Alexander Cherepanov. The author took photos of tiny pictures of his ancestors and himself as a child and used the textures of the houses, where his characters once lived, as a background.

In the next room, there is a mockumentary by Lelya Sobenina about all possible scenarios for the life of her great-uncle who went missing in the war. Ghost by Alexander Prokofyev is the most intimate project of all. A photo of a child by the Christmas tree and memories of how the boy could not dare to recite a poem, to overcome the fear of public speaking. The childhood trauma remained with the author for the rest of his life and is partly overcome with the help of this project, through its publicity. And then comes an art work by Olesya Frich. A picture of inheritance in the female line in the form of a thread of a rug woven by the artist's grandmother. This work is followed by the video about Lake Tavatuy by Sofya Razumovskaya. Oksana Prikhodko made a self-portrait, in which she appeared as a bride. It is a joyful and, at the same time, mournful picture. On September 22, there were many important events in her life. The death of her grandfather, the 40th day after the death of her father, and her marriage.
The last exhibition hall features the installation called In the Loving Memory. The author used her family archive. She deliberately found and scanned photographs of people she could not say anything about (neither who it is nor why their pictures are kept by her family). Photos of long-forgotten people spill out of an album she found in the trash. The final chord of the exposition is a panel picture by Yulia Shilovskikh. It features happy smiling girls from the 1980s.
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