This Land Was Made For You And Me

Lesia Maruschak

2020 - Ongoing

This Land Was Made For You And Me is a story of a little girl. It is a story with roots in the past which extend into our time. My history is one of not belonging. I was a child six years old living on a farm on the Canadian prairies when I understood that we were different. That was 1966. I couldn’t speak English. No one outside our community could say my same. It was Lesia.

I am a descendant of Ukrainian immigrants who came to Canada in search of a better life for themselves and their children. Instead, they eventually found themselves in internment camps. 8,579 men women and children were interned from 1914-1920. Surrounded by barbed wire and armed by guards, their dreams collapsed, along with their rights and freedoms. 181 were children, just like me. I don’t know if my family was interned.

This project draws from archival images of Canada’s first national internment operations found in Library Archives Canada, just before the outbreak of COVID. Reinterpretations of my father’s Super-8mm home movies, where I retrace my youth and family vacations through the mountain roads and parks, built by those interned, are coupled with my photography of Ukraine and the home my family left behind.

To reimagine the past wrote a I wrote a series of letters, as if I was a woman interned. This is where the story begins. The idea of belonging, when belonging is impossible. This is her story, their story, our story.


Project Details

This Land Is Made For You and Me works to highlight the emotional aspects of this narrative and its currency today via creative development, production and intersectional collaboration. She images shown are taken from my work as part of a commission by the Endowment Council of the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund and is focused on the production of a multilingual book and exhibition program: English, French and Spanish.

The book will be produced in three phases, under the artistic direction and in collaboration with Ramon Pez. Phase One: Creative Development, with the production of a dummy is almost complete; essays by Taous Dahmani (Sorbonne/Oxford) and Hana Kaluznick (V&A Museum) are outstanding. Phase Two: Pre-publication, including the preparation of prototype diagrams, materials selection, production quotes, and publisher solicitation is next. A co-publishing schema maybe useful given the intent to publish the book in three languages; one publisher has already expressed interest. Phase Three: Publication/Distribution will follow. The release of the book at Paris Photo 2021 is the goal.

The PhMuseum Prize would allow for the inclusion of innovations in bookmaking and the production of a multilingual publication, that would otherwise be impossible. This book, like the subject it addresses, is intended to remind us that that there is no single correct way to depict the events of the past. Indeed, the strategy of offering multiple points of entrée (film, art, text, essays, images) may speak best to a broad audience, crossing boundaries and facilitate connection something that maybe more important now than ever.

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