Common questions emerge about collisions of past and present culture: How does being of Ukrainian, Jewish, or German ancestry affect the view of being Canadian? Does it at all? Does the concept of nation-hood even feature as an aspect of our personalities? These questions and their answers impact the realities experienced by most people in this multi-cultural country. For this exhibition Jay Senetchko explored his Ukrainian heritage.
The nature of any recollection is that is imperfect. Memories, just as histories more generally, are full of holes, misconceptions, misremembering, and downright fabrications. In creating work for this show the artist has accessed what he knows of his cultural and familial history, as well as what he had been able to discover through reading and conversation; ultimately confronting the fact that beyond the end of the 19th century there is nothing to discover about his personal heritage as it had been lost in the tragic past of what is now Ukraine. Like so many Ukrainians of this period, Jay Senetchko’s family (both sides) came to Canada during three waves of emigration stretching roughly from 1880-1940. What was striking about this migration of people is not only how those traditional roots helped create the identity of Ukrainian-Canadians (including myself), but also how those emigrants contributed to the cultural fabric of Canada, and provided inspiration and support for the creation of what eventually was to become an independent Ukraine in 1991. These, and many more, facets of the artist’s personal history and culture were uncovered during the creation of this show. These additions to his understanding were always balanced by lost photographs, imperfect memories and records, stories probably devoid of little more than a sprinkling of truth, and the complete absence of information thanks in large part to the generally turbulent area of western Ukraine from which his family ultimately hails, and Stalin (the bastard). Irrespective of this, the process of creating for this show deepened Senetchko’s understanding of his history and culture, its language, and the possibilities for the future which build on that past….holes and all. дякую.