Foto kolaz umjetnice Elene Subach sacinjen od arhivskih materijala Zenice i ucesnica projekta
Foto kolaz umjetnice Elene Subach sacinjen od arhivskih materijala Zenice i ucesnica projekta

Urban Herstories: Exploring Relationships between Women and their Cities

The month of March encourages the study and the celebration of the vital role of women in history and contemporary society. Launched earlier in March, Urban Herstories is an activist and artistic collaboration between Ukraine, Slovakia, Poland and Bosnia and Herzegovina, part of the Tandem Ukraine programme, that explores the role of older women in their urban communities.

Urban Herstories is a transnational map of footprints, trails, and memories of elderly women living in cities. The goal of the initiative is to capture and explore the female perspective on social, political, urbanistic and personal changes in urban post-communist environments.

It consists of research, artistic and activist initiatives in three Eastern European cities: Ukrainian city of Ivano-Frankivsk, Slovakian city of Košice and Bosnian city of Zenica.

Creating a Women's City Map

In Zenica, local activists collected personal stories and photo archives of six older women, related to specific mapped locations in the city, upon which the so-called “Women’s city map” was created. The stories have become part of a city audio guide called “Female Face of Zenica” (or “Žensko lice Zenice” in Bosnian) and the photo materials have been included in a photographic project of Ukrainian artist Elena Subach.

Elena Subach’s works are the imaginary journey through Zenica’s urban space and it’s “herstories.” Using visual language specific for her art, she dived into the archives, took virtual walks using old city maps and internet resources to create her own vision of Zenica from a female artist perspective. The initiative has shed light on women’s relationships with their city and their role in the public arena.

one of Elena Subach works
one of Elena Subach works

In Ivano-Frankivsk, Metalab Studio has conducted research among Ukrainian women. Since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic, public spaces and elderly have turned out to be the most relevant and acute topic. The initiative aimed to explore the access of public places and the urban environment to the older people during the pandemic. What does safety mean for the elderly? How has the daily routine in quarantine changed? How do people at risk feel and what do they really need?

A young Slovakian film-maker Dorota Vlnova has met a group of older women in Košice and made a documentary that discusses their memories of their past lives and captures their present days they fulfil with their creativity.

Explore further

All materials are available on the project’s website

The project updates can also be followed through a Facebook page and on Instagram @urbanherstories.

‘Urban Herstories’ is a collaboration between Naš most Association from Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Insha Osvita from Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, Kino Usmev from Košice, Slovakia and Strefa Kultury Wroclaw from Wroclaw, Poland. The partner on the project is Zenica’s Naša djeca Association and Metalab from Ivano-Frankivsk.

Project’s authors are Katarzyna Zielińska, Barbora Andor Tóthová, Anna Potyomkina and Lidija Pisker. The visual identity of the initiative and the website was designed by Martyna Gash.

It is implemented within the framework of the Tandem Ukraine Programme. Tandem Ukraine is an initiative developed by MitOst e.V. and European Cultural Foundation (ECF). The programme is implemented in close collaboration with Insha Osvita, and is supported by the German Federal Foreign Office in the framework of “Dialogue for Change”, as well as ECF and Black Sea Trust, a Project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.