Weaving with words:
Joint effort to become better at holding fragile conversations

On May 8, 2022, Growing Pains organised our first workshop Weaving with words: Joint effort to become better at holding fragile conversations. We asked Ola Lanko–an Amsterdam-based artist, originally from Ukraine–to structure and lead the event. Relying on three principles–own your experience, be withotehrs in their world, stay true to connection–fourteen participants could share their intimate thoughts and feelings.

The day started with hope. Participants talked about the concept and the emotion of “hope:” what is it? How can we relate to it in times of war and despair? Does the perception of hope / أمل / надія differ depending on the language used? Some could not locate it within them, while others found it in humor. For some the context in which the word is used causes irritation: “I hope things get better” might cover something else that stays unspoken. And for few hope is very present and connected to their children.

The workshop continued with group sessions, where participants discussed subjects they find difficult to talk about with kids in relation to the war in Ukraine or wars from the areas of their origin. Who should start a conversation? And how to find the balance between protecting children and keeping them informed? Finally, we discussed the role of photography in molding reflective forms. A few participants made images on the spot, and we ended up having a slideshow in impregnated silence that Lanko compared to “swimming in milk.”

A shared lunch of Polish pierogi and Ukrainian varenyky, that all hands helped prepare, fueled the feeling of communal connection.

We are grateful to all the participants: Aino Sofie, Andrea Knezović, Ayumi Higuchi, Corine Aalvanger, Delphine Bedel, Ewa Kruttova, Ola Lanko, Kate Motyleva, Katya Krupennikova, Parisa Aminolahi, Thana Faroq, and Yana Klichuk.
FOTODOK hosted us as part of the conference (IN)VISIBILITIES, Gender and Photography in the Netherlands, curated by Delphine Bedel and Daria Tuminas.
© Growing Pains