Polesia Artist Residency
Working as a collective, Oleksii Nahorniuk, Firsov Maksym and Vusatii Serhii will use their residency to explore and share the life stories of Polesian ‘tree’ beekeepers, and the ancient trees and bees that these communities have venerated since medieval times. Through audio-visual technology, and participatory workshops, Nahorniuk’s collective will share the tree histories which have been passed down from generation to generation. He considers these trees to be ‘landmark objects’, and the collective will juxtapose this sustainable cultural practice with increasingly intensive logging and illegal amber mining – challenging attitudes that view the landscape and its trees as commodities. They aim to secure a future for these ancient trees by revealing and celebrating the respectful and sustainable approach to living with a landscape rather than from a landscape.
This project has been established through the Endangered Landscapes Artist Residencies and Arts Prize – a new collaboration between the Endangered Landscapes Programme and the CCI Arts, Science and Conservation Programme.
Oleksii Nahorniuk works in the Rivne Regional Museum of Local Lore as a creative ethnographer, curator and photographer. His participatory practice explores cultural concepts of landscape and symbolic markers such as venerated trees, lakes, boulders, graveyards, and roadside crosses. A key focus of Nahorniuk’s practice has been the exploration of traditional Polesian ‘tree beekeeping’ – its cultural background, techniques, relationship between the keepers and their landscape. Previous projects include photographic exhibitions about Ukranian folklore scholars and village artisans.
Maxim Firsov is chairman and co-founder of NGO “Tree Beekeepers of Ukraine”. He studied at the National Agrarian University in Kiev with a specialisation in beekeeping. Since 2013, he has been studying the ethno-cultural work of tree beekeeping, and lectures widely, participating in scientific conferences, and reconstruction festivals. He has undertaken more than 10 expeditions to visit modern beekeepers, and his work includes the making of traditional tools and all types of practice relevant to tree beekeeping. He conducts masterclasses on a wide range of skills, including meading and candle making, and is currently creating a cultural and educational centre of traditional tree beekeeping.
Serhii Vusatyi, a programming teacher by education, has been a companion in Nagorniuk’s ethnographic research for 15 years and a volunteer in projects to preserve the cultural heritage of Polesia. He is mainly involved as a technical specialist, programmer, photo and video operator.