Women to Women Collective: The soil remembers. Do you?


Women to Women Collective: The soil remembers. Do you?

28.03.2024 - 26.05.2024 / MSU, 1. kat


المثارات : التراب يذكر .  هل أنت؟

محرک ها: خاک به یاد می آورد.  آیا تو؟

The Soil Remembers. Do You? is a project from the Triggers series with which we present the work, the commemorative action of the Women to Women collective. The project was inspired by the piece Observers by Ivana Popović from the Museum of Contemporary Art Collections, consisting of a large number of small human heads in clay, different in form, but sharing one coherent component – expressive eyes.

There are three equally important points of origin in the project: the clay with Ivana Popović’s forms inscribed, the locations across Croatia where the members of the Women to Women collective procured wild clay they would later shape, and the phenomenon of observation. Taking clay as a metaphor of the earth, a memory archive of sorts and a narrative intermediary, the collective members tell the story about people on the move, the story of cross-border walkers, their fellow travellers and observers along the Balkan route.

The Balkan route used to be a trade and travel corridor across Southeast Europe. However, during recent war conflicts and crises, it became a frequent road for people fleeing the war zones, mainly from Africa and Asia. People on the move face countless risks, such as the perilous sea journey, difficult land travels, and threatening encounters with police brutality due to the oppressive regime of closed borders. A tragedy that demands urgent ethical action from all of us for all those seeking safety and a better life.

Commemorating the death of fellow travellers, friends and family members lost along the way, the members of the collective juxtapose Observers and wild clay taken at places where people died on the road, such as Blatuša, Karlovac, Grmoščica, Petrinja, Pakrac or Sisak. Forms made by collective work, just like Ivana Popović’s, are exhibited on red boxes because of the powerful symbolical charge of the colour red, but also because of the connotations of the case as transfer, travel or burial. Each of these elements intertwine to create a connected unit, which the collective members present as an object/composition which, connecting two floors of the museum building, archives the memory traces and gestures, transforming the personal into the collective.

Hannah Arendt, after the Reichstag arson in 1933, wrote: “I no longer thought one could just be an observer.” Bearing in mind that we feel individual testimonies only if they are common, if they belong to others, the collective members offer healing by telling the stories of the missing and the killed, at the same time underlining the fact that we can no longer simply be passive observers.

Collective’s statement: 

The soil is an archive of memories, a guardian of unbreakable stories that intertwine in the depths of its surface. The soil remembers. In the folds of its layers, the "power of death" settles. Stories of hidden, invisible, forgotten species. And on the surface and underground, our conflicts, poverty, and oppression of various forms of life and communities are reflected.

Along the Balkan route, we witness the stories of cross-border walkers, their companions, and observers. However, many stories are yet to be heard and understood. With many, on that path, we mirror a similar fate, even though national, corporate, and military elites tell us otherwise.

With both hands in the soil, digging, drying, grinding, soaking, crumbling, shaping, and absorbing the memories of brown, white, yellow, red, and black earth, we feel the future that also resides in it for us.

And as we observe criminalized migration as a phenomenon shaped by contemporary and historical colonial and imperial regimes and capitalism, we understand that our freedoms and chances for survival are interconnected.

With hands immersed in the earth, we feel its tremors, the first speech in the language of the new world that whispers: Your freedoms are interdependent. The chances of survival of one are related to the chances of all.

Women to Women collective members: Ana Dana Beroš, Arbina Alihjian, Cyrille Cartier, Ivona Kočica, Jasenka Kosir, Josipa Lulić, Madina Rezaie, Marijana Hameršak, Mensura Juranović, Romana Pozniak, Safaa Salem, Samaneh Riehani & selma banich

Exhibition design: Ana Dana Beroš

Sound editing: Adam Semijalac

Graphic design: Ena Jurov

Curator: Leila Topić

About Women to Women Collective

Živi Atelje DK (Living Atelier DK) is an independent, interdisciplinary, non-governmental and non-profit organization that uses art for exploration of identity, healing and community-building. We aim to nurture individual strength, potential, resilience and solidarity to answer to life's challenges as part of social change and community-building through art. We have several programs including the No Borders Program, (Women to Women Collective and No Borders: Integration of Art – Art of integration), Wandering Art Tea Academy, Creative Collective Space and Gallery DK (glassblowing, storytelling, ceramics, cyanotype and artist in residence) and a project to preserve and promote the art of Vera Dajht-Kralj, whose atelier, her artistic and spiritual heritage, is the focal point for all our activities. The Women to Women collective is a key No Borders program at Živi Atelje DK that brings together women who want Croatia to become home with women for whom Croatia is already home, through engaged art to improve well-being, empower and facilitate the integration of all people into an ever-evolving community. We consider integration to be a never-ending process involving everyone to be part of this ever-changing, dynamic society with people of diverse origins and world views. Since 2016, through workshops, gatherings, excursions and public engagements, Živi Atelje DK empowers participants socially, therapeutically and economically through skills learned in a safe, secure and intimate space for people to exchange ideas, problems, solutions or simply to spend time together. People build a support network and encourage respect, understanding and embracing of diversity. We also engage with the public and work on public advocacy and awareness-building through exhibitions, and interactive presentations and workshops in Zagreb and beyond. We continue to collaborate with artists, and local and international non-governmental organizations and initiatives.