the black box | Challenges of Memory

The series “Challenges of Memory” is dedicated to the transformation of the cultural landscapes of the country, fixation, and popularization of art.

7-9 of April
1 Event
Jam Factory Art Center

7/04 (Fri) 18:30
Iryna Chuzhynova “Changing cultural landscapes of the country: individual and institutional (non)memory”

In ancient Greek mythology, Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, was the mother of nine muses, including the two most revered in the theater – Thalia and Melpomene. So how is the memory mechanism implemented in the theater?

Who are its carriers – zealous supporters of “traditional forms” or those who call to forget the past?
To what extent is theatrical art focused on the endless living “here and now,” dependent on what was and open to the future?
What remains in the memory of the performance?
From the destroyed theater?
Why do memories turn into myths?
Although… Without myths, how would we know that art was born from memory?

8/04 (Sat) 5:00 p.m

Yeva Bal “Theatre as a memory machine”

In my lecture, I will try to illuminate briefly the memory turn in theatre studies, for which the publication of Marvin Carlson’s book The Haunted Stage – Theatre as the Memory Machine (2001) was a symbolic moment. Starting from a definition of performance as “restored behavior,” Carlson boldly claims that theatre has always been a site of memory, both individual and cultural, and has always been ghosted by someone or something. 

However, the real turn in memory studies came with the research of German and French scholars: such as Marianne Hirsch, Aleida Assmann, and Pierre Norá, who analyzed memory work with a particular type of intergenerational gaze or affect and memory sites. How we remember past and contemporary events depends to a large extent on how they are represented in culture. Cultural memory often replaces individual memory. That is why so much responsibility rests today on the artists who work to “commemorate” the present. Whose memory do they privilege? Whose memory are they overlooking? Who, in the future, will demand to be reminded of their role in history? Has the voice of women been heard? How will we re-enact the past in the future?

I will answer these questions by referring to examples of performances from the Polish cultural context of the last few years.

9/04 (Sun) 5:00 p.m

Maiia Harbuziuk “Instrumental significance of theater in the context of (post)colonialism”

Key questions:

  • What is the colonial state in the Ukrainian theater?
  • What did and does modern Ukrainian theater in the context of decolonization?
  • What is “epistemic injustice” and how is it overcome in the theater?

9/04 (Sun) 18:30
Discussion: “Memory challenges: focus theater”
Yeva Bal, Tetiana Rudenko, Maiia Harbuziuk, Iryna Chuzhynova
Moderator: Yana Partola

Theater as art exists in space and time is fleeting because it exists here and now. At the same time, the theater is the territory of memory collective, individual, social, cultural, etc.
Let’s look at the theater from this side.
Memory has the property of both preservation and forgetting. The theater preserves, produces, and reflects on present and past topics.
Rethinks the past, returning again and again to painful and not-so-good topics. At the same time, there are suppression, taboos, and unwanted issues that have not been actualized and reproduced by the theater for decades.

  • Is the theater ready to accept the challenges of memory, or does it seek to remain in the usual comfort zone?
  • What will the theater remember about us, and how will it represent our present?
  • What will we remember about today’s theater?
  • Who and how should record the theatrical process today so that its memory is present in the cultural tomorrow?

We will discuss theater in the dimension of memory and memory in the dimension of theater with Yeva Bal, Tetiana Rudenko, Maiia Harbuziuk, Iryna Chuzhynova; the moderator is Yana Partola.

About the “Memory Challenges” project

War is a large-scale reassessment of values in all aspects. On the one hand, today, there are actually two possibilities to be a Ukrainian – to be in the Armed Forces or to help the Armed Forces. But, on the other hand, what are we fighting for? What do we protect? Exclusively our biological existence within certain geographical limits? We are defending something else. This “other” must be remembered, transformed from pain into experience, created every day – through performances, literature, music, and the functioning of art institutions, universities, theaters, and cinema – these are all crucial aspects of the life of modern society.

If we can talk about the preservation of museum cultural heritage, how can we talk about this preservation in relation to the theater? With what tools, and what “expositions” to show it?

The series “Challenges of Memory” is dedicated to the transformation of the cultural landscapes of the country, fixation, and popularization of art. For example, how to remember the theater of Mariupol or Kherson? What do we now remember about the theater space of Donetsk from 2000-2014? Let’s consider various cases, both successful and “memory dying.”




“the black box” is an educational program on modern theater that Jam Factory Art Center has implemented since 2019. The project combines various formats: lectures, public discussions, workshops and aims to strengthen the capacity of actors of the theater sector in Ukraine, creating a space for learning, sharing experiences, and communication.

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