|947439||transplantation (5)||Darya Tsymbalyuk||All rights reserved|
|947444||фикус||Darya Tsymbalyuk||All rights reserved|
|947449||Valentina||Darya Tsymbalyuk||All rights reserved|
|947452||Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Printer (2)||Darya Tsymbalyuk||All rights reserved|
|947459||transplantation (4)||Darya Tsymbalyuk||All rights reserved|
|947463||Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Printer (1)||Darya Tsymbalyuk||All rights reserved|
|947467||transplantation (8)||Darya Tsymbalyuk||All rights reserved|
|947471||Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Printer (7)||Darya Tsymbalyuk||All rights reserved|
|947475||Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Printer (3)||Darya Tsymbalyuk||All rights reserved|
|947479||Natalia||Darya Tsymbalyuk||All rights reserved|
|947484||transplantation (7)||Darya Tsymbalyuk||All rights reserved|
|948482||transplantation (5)||Darya Tsymbalyuk||All rights reserved|
|948484||transplantation (5) copy||Darya Tsymbalyuk||All rights reserved|
|948486||transplantation (5) copy||Darya Tsymbalyuk||All rights reserved|
|948507||Розен Б.Я. Повесть о горючем камне (1981)||Darya Tsymbalyuk||All rights reserved|
|948523||Розен Б.Я. Повесть о горючем камне (1981)||Darya Tsymbalyuk||All rights reserved|
|1138153||transplantation 9||Darya Tsymbalyuk||All rights reserved|
This is an edited version of the peer review comment, which the author has used as an aid when finalising their exposition:
This is a very well-researched and engaged practice that offers new insights into both actual histories of the Donbas region and into the contribution of artistic research in telling histories from a situated and grounded perspective, and in particular telling natural-cultural histories.
The author reveals multiple strata of human histories of Donetsk and Luhansk, and their less visible or even backgrounded inter-relations with natural histories, in particular plants.
This exposition will be of interest both to arts and humanities scholars working with the issue of the vegetal, but also, more broadly, to the artists and scholars in memory studies and microhistory. Its deep grounding in people's histories and the historical context is a very welcome contribution to the field which, in my view, sometimes struggles with its historicity. The author strikes a very fine balance between staying responsible to both their human subjects and the vegetal, which is, I would argue, very hard to achieve and I acknowledge this as very inspiring and empowering for us working in this area of concern. This issue of accountability both to other-than-human and human subjects is a key concern and often a challenge within multispecies/more-than-human area of work, and the author shows a highly personal mode of dealing with this ethico-political question.
The blending between artwork and analytical text or meta-narrative is well done, and they are mutually enriching. It reveals the motivations and the drivers behind the whole process. As such, it conveys convincingly the ‘what, why, and how’ of the artistic research process.
There are some questions that I raise below, and I would like the author to take them into consideration.
The most salient aspect of the exposition in my view are the artworks themselves, and equally, the strong sense that the narrative/text slowly and carefully unpacks more and more strata within the artworks. This is a very interesting entanglement.
Second important aspect is the original and challenging bringing together of oral histories of internally displaced persons, fossil histories conveyed through paleo-botany and plants connected to the stories of displaced persons due to conflict. It is a very strong entanglement, and it sheds light on how history can be written in such way as to collapse the dichotomies between natural and social history. As many authors have indicated, this might be one of the core challenges for arts and humanities today, so it is a very valuable effort.
Thirdly, and very importantly, the practice and the exposition tell crucial histories about a very recent conflict and tells them from the perspectives which are still largely missing, especially beyond Ukraine. In this sense, I hail the work as an important socially engaged historical practice.
It is clear that the whole process is driven by artistic work, and this comes across very well from the exposition itself. At the same time, the reader can understand why it is important to engage with these histories also through other research methods, and how this feeds the artwork.
As a comment and suggestion: the exposition might contribute [benefit] from clarifying how the artistic process itself drives the impetus of the whole research process, as well as its aims and objectives. This would amount to a more detailed unfolding of different stages of the process, how different strata eventually came together.
Another question that arises through the work is also the issues related to the debates in memory studies and science studies that the author draws upon, and have to do with the questions of representation, responsibility and accountability. The author summarises this very well here: “Extending the category of an inscription, I work with oral histories as inscriptions of the experiences of the displaced persons, and plant fossils as inscriptions of experiences of plants.” This is a very important and clear proposition and reveals how deep the understanding the author has achieved through this process is.
However, from my perspective, the density of the work and the oral and natural histories conveyed, requires some more positioning of the author in-between these bodies, agencies, voices. The situatedness is largely there, and it comes across especially through artworks, however, it would be of great help for artistic research debates if it was also spelled out more clearly.
This work will have an interesting contribution to “environmentalising” memory studies but also environmental history itself, as it very compellingly troubles human and natural history in a very original way and reassembles them in a very careful manner.
The exposition clearly sets out the aims and objectives, and it answers them in a rounded manner. As mentioned above, I deem it as a contribution to artistic research practice, with possible implications to several other fields as well.
On the other hand, it does indeed not contextualise itself within the realm of art practice and artistic research and the current discussions around it, but since the work is very compact and dense as it is, I would not say that it is necessary. On the other hand, it will speak well to the context of the special issue on “Working with the vegetal” so I find that it is satisfactorily connected to this particular area of work.As said above, there could be some more explication of the artistic research process itself, and there are several methodological comments/questions that would benefit further explication. They are not essential though, and I only ask the author to give it another thought. Perhaps there are some bits that have been excluded and could have been important.
The design is freeform, but it is still quite easily legible. It seems to materialise with the idea of strata and the vegetal, so in this sense it works very well and invites for exploration and curiosity while not making it too complicated to follow.
One comment: some quotes are repeated between the text and the artworks, perhaps this could be avoided through a closer intertwined formatting of text and the artworks?
The exposition lacks the explication of the interview methodology and ethics, e.g. whether the interviewees have been anonymised and have they given consent for their use within the artwork etc. This would be essential to explain. Possibly important would be also to include some information about the interviews, e.g. place/date, and if the author decides not to include them, to explain why.
The work clearly sets out its goals and follows them through, so it is a sound and, I would say, highly relevant piece of artistic research. In particular, I would like to note that the author positions their work very well in the power nexus of representation and grand history writing, and the consequences of it. And they also show very well how this practice radically differs from the power nexus between science and mining industry, and the nexus between war and landscape destruction. This is a powerful statement and a valuable ethico-political aim for artistic research and art, and a great contribution to this field of work and studies.
There are some methodological moments that could benefit from a more elaborate and detailed explication. For example, how does the author “work with the nonhuman”? There are multiple methods and challenges involved, and it is one of the core themes of this issue, and I find that it would be good to have a more self-reflective approach to this.
Furthermore, it would be of significance to read more about how and why the author adopts and transposes Donna Haraway's SF methodology, which has its roots in science fiction, speculative fictioning, etc. It is not that obvious how that manifests in the artistic research project. In my view, the use of “the game of string figure” likewise requires a more historical/situated explication, as it comes from a specific tradition and it has already been transformed in important ways through Haraway's inscription. Not the least since Haraway's methodology is more concerned with constructing speculative futures, whereas the author's work is so strongly rooted in the present and the histories of the place. This does not mean that they are not compatible, but that it invites for further thinking and could be another strong takeaway from the exposition. Perhaps there are some other frameworks that could even more adequately describe the author's process, dialoguing with “history-from-below” methodologies, diaspora studies...?