Projects > Ancestral Bodies

Image Still from Ancestral Bodies, digital film, 8 minutes, 2024

Ancestral Bodies is in the process of becoming. I am currently directing and producing in Northern Poland, which began during the early phases of the Covid pandemic.The narration in this film takes the form of a fictional letter written to my Grandmother's sister, Margaret Anna Martha Kopitzke who was born in 1898 in Steinforth, Pomerania, Prussia. Part historical research, part ancestral letter, this project relies on embodied and experiential ways of knowing and bearing witness.

Ancestral Bodies is a collaborative project with the Szczecin-based Pomeranian Historical Society Volunteer Group, which cleans, catalogs, and resurrects Baltic German cemeteries that have laid to waste since the WWII-era forced expulsions and displacement of both the Poles in the east, and Baltic German populations from what is present day Northern Poland. The historical tension between Germans and Poles still exists to this day, evidenced in the lack of upkeep or care for the other group's ancestral remains, as well as residual fears from Polish families that Baltic Germans will try to reclaim their former family homes.

My family is both German and Polish. Steinforth, My family's small ancestral village has laid dormant underground since the Russian invasion in February of 1945. A member of the Pomeranian volunteer group located our village using Lidar map technology, which detects any abnormalities or changes in topography. The perfect indentation of streets and the outlines of the foundations of buildings mirror the historical street maps of Steinforth. They appear as though they have been covered in snow. The site is located in the Borne Sulinowo district- a historical military area dating back to Kaiser Wilhelm. My Aunt recalled hearing the soldiers during shooting practice as a young child.

In 1933, the Third Reich government took over the area and began building a military town, where Wehrmacht soldiers trained from 1938. During the war, the Groß Born garrison also operated a prisoner of war camp, where thousands of Poles were imprisoned. Today, it is a beautiful ecological preservation area and forest district. We have applied for a permit to dig in the Czarnabòr Forest District, where Steinforth is located with the generous help of Historian Żaneta Czerwińska. The second step is to apply for permission to excavate through the Provincial Conservator of Monuments.

The Feminist Art Project Day of Panels at CAA for
The Politics of Identity & The Body as Medium in Feminist Practice,
February, 17, 2024 Chicago Hilton