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By: Katy Beinart and Rebecca Beinart
Origination emerged from our interest in genealogy, and family stories of migration.
In 2009-10, we embarked on a journey by ship, retracing the route of our ancestors from Eastern Europe to South Africa.
In 2011, we were in residence in Brixton Market, London, and followed this with a show at 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning, Brixton.
We are currently on a trip through Lithuania and Russia to continue our research.
# 13 [29 November 2009]
We set sail in 2 weeks...
Starting to pack and prepare for the voyage, it feels like there is so much to do. We are attempting to fold away our lives here, and chose the items to take with us on the journey.
We have booked a passage on a cargo ship that leaves from Antwerp and will take 19 days to sail to South Africa. The departure date has yet to be confirmed: the cargo, rather than the passengers are prioritised.
We each have our own fears and hopes for the journey, there are many unanswered questions. Will we get sick, or bored? Will we take the right things with us? Will the cooks allow us to use the oven to bake our bread? How many different skies will we see?
# 12 [21 November 2009]
Home Delivery: Borscht and Black Bread
Images from the event at Barry and Edith s House, Saturday 7th November 2009.
# 11 [16 November 2009]
Home Delivery: a performance
On saturday 7th November, we carried out our performance "Borscht and Black Bread" for Artwash
The performance took place at the home of Barry Reeves, and we read extracts from our ongoing correspondance about the project, on identity, memory and objects. We then invited the guests to eat a meal of borscht and black bread, made from our starter culture.
After the meal we asked guests to tell a story about one of their ancestors, and we toasted each ancestor with a shot of vodka.
The images show the preparaiton of our performance.
# 10 [16 November 2009]
Bread from Starter Culture: Mark II
Katy's first attempt at making bread..it seemed to have a life of its own..
# 9 [4 November 2009]
Today I baked my fisrt loaves of bread from the culture Katy and I started together. I enjoyed the slow process: mixing the dough, leaving it overnight, adding more flour and mixing it again, then leaving it to prove for hours. My house is cold and the dough took it's time to expand. But the alchemy started to work it's magic and finally this evening I put two loaves into the oven.
They came out looking slightly peculiar - I think they got a little over excited in the heat of the oven and rose too fast. So each loaf has a crack down the side. They look like mouths that have just opened to laugh or to tell me something.
I ate a piece of the bread and it tasted great.
# 8 [3 November 2009]
My sour-dough culture is living in a bowl in the kitchen. I have lived with it for two weeks now, feeding it daily, smelling it, and looking for signs of life. I worry that it is too cold, or that I have forgotten to feed it. It smells strange, a yeasty slightly acrid smell. Sometimes I feel fond of it, proud of the culture that is growing there, the potential it holds. At other times it is a surly child, sulking and demanding my attention when I am busy with other things.
The language of bread cultures and their care is strange - another name for the starter culture is the 'Mother'. But at the beginning, I am mothering my mother.
I am trying to judge whether my culture has reached maturity, and is ready for it's first batch of bread-making.
# 7 [1 October 2009]
Making the starter culture: we took a bunch of grapes each and half a bag of flour, and made the culture at our homes in Oxford and Nottingham.
# 6 [1 October 2009]
Visit to Lithuania
In September, Katy took part in "Transient Spaces - the Tourist Syndrome Summer Camp", Palanga, Lithuania, organised by Berlin based arts organisation uqbar
Going back to my roots...
I arrived in Kaunas feeling dislocated, having got up at 2am, taken 2 coaches and a plane, and realising that I knew not a single word of Lithuanian. I hung out at the bus station hoping I would get on the right bus and feeling at the hub of a web of migrations, as coach after coach stopped to let weary passengers out for a rest break, en route to St Petersberg, Antwerp, Talliin, Riga..
As we travelled through the countryside, the wooden houses and gentle pastoral landscape seemed somehow familiar to me. Perhaps evocative of ideas I had about a home, a place where time had stood still, I daydreamed about my familys shtetl in Rokiskis. But I was headed to Palanga, a tourist resort on the Baltic Sea, for a week of intense conversation and making work (and a bit of tourism).
I took part in a workshop called Displacements, lead by Italian artist Cesare Pietroiusti. The starting point was the idea of movement, of a displacement being a move from the stable condition; that the artist acts as an agent of displacement, enabling movement. We examined the stable conditions of Home, Role and Identity through the mirror of language, exploring how translating (in our case between English, Italian, Spanish, German, Lithuanian) added, changed or subverted these ideas.
We talked about “the other;s gaze”, and the way identity is formed through the projections of others. These reflective gazes create an acknowledgement, a sense of recognition, that allows us to form an idea of ourselves as belonging. We discussed the meaning of home and the unheimlich (Uncanny/Unfamiliar in English). In English, the familiar is similar to habit, from which words come meaning home, use, clothing, space. So when does home become disquieting, unfamiliar, uncanny, even sinister? Perhaps this relates to the experience of being a visitor, being an alien, feeling alienated.
I was visiting the home of my great-grandparents, and in a sense it felt familiar (in the family sense) but also unfamiliar. Someone used the word Immanence, which seemed to fit - the alienation existed in time rather than space, and if I could collapse time so both past and future existed simultaneously, I wouldn't feel so distant but rather would feel a sense of home...
On the last day I had a moment like this, where I had Borscht for lunch and the flavour felt so much like home, not a memory of a place I've ever known, but it reminded me of my work with Rebecca, of all the borscht I have cooked, of eating with my family. Every time it's a little bit different but the earthy taste is also the same.
# 5 [1 October 2009]
Making a sourdough starter culture, using grapes from our childhood home. This starter culture will be kept alive and be used to make bread. We hope to take it to South Africa.
# 4 [10 August 2009]
Work in Progress..
Since 2008, we have been developing ideas for a journey, and a longer period to focus on making work for the project. We have been offered a residency in Cape Town, at Greatmore Studios, part of the Triangle Arts Trust, and also at the University of Stellenbosch, in spring 2010.
Cape Town was the point of arrival for our great-grandparents Woolf and Gittel Beinart, who then went to live in Malmesbury, a small town in the Western Cape.
We want to respond to sites of memory, transposing our practice and using a series of tailor-made constructions to explore rituals, real or invented.
We are developing ideas for forms of luggage which might transform to become mobile kitchens, collecting apparatus, or transporting artworks made through the journey.
We are continuing our conversations through a number of means, from an expandable letter, to email, and face-to-face. We will explore how different means of communication shape our dialogue, and our responses to questions about possessions, home, identity, and place. Selected highlights will be posted here.
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Katy Beinart is an interdisciplinary artist whose work examines themes of history, identity and place. Her practice is research based and site-specific, often evolving through a participatory process. She is currently doing a PhD in Research by Architectural Design at the Bartlett, University College London.
Rebecca Beinart makes transportable artworks, live works, and interventions into public space. Her research often takes the form of journey-making, and her artwork draws from the unpredictability of encounters with people and places. Her live works create conversational spaces, in which audience-participants are as much the makers as the viewers of a piece.