American Document
Monika Berenyi

American Document was envisioned and produced by Canadian visual artist, Monika Berenyi. Her artistic practice is situated in the documentary tradition and animated by dynamic forms of storytelling which explore the archive, the practice of history, and database aesthetics. Her creative practice has been cultivated in the spirit of artistic pluralism, and informed by the disciplines of history, ethnography, and visual art. Using interdisciplinary research and production methods, she investigates latent values in archival documents, and questions the mechanisms which contribute to constructs of collective memory and official histories. Through the articulation of dynamic visual languages, her work expresses and exposes how historical narratives are recorded, preserved, and remembered. Her work is rendered in a broad range of media, and provides a visual platform for communication, historical research, and alternative modes of learning. Her artistic practice encourages community participation and critical exchange within and beyond the academy.

Monika Berenyi's recent projects have explored critical topics in 20th century American social history, including the Great Depression, Dust Bowl Migrations, and the Civil Rights movement, in the context of documentary media and the independent press. Her research engagement with the FSA-OWI archive has resulted in the publication of a documentary book entitled What We Are About to Receive: Historical Voices from the United States Farm Security Administration Archival File (2011) and American Document (2012). Both works illuminate the value of documentary photography to the study and advancement of New Deal era history. Concurrently, Monika Berenyi has been documenting the history of Detroit's Civil Rights era poetry and independent print culture movement, in the form of a community based oral history project entitled The Detroit City Poetry Oral History Project (2009-2012).

Monika Berenyi completed her MFA in Documentary Media at Ryerson University and has studied at the University of Toronto (MA, BA), ArtEZ Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Accademia D'Arte Firenze, and the Catholic University of Lublin. She has conducted research within historically significant archival collections, including those held by the US Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, and the Open Society Archives. Her work has been exhibited internationally and received formal artistic recognition from the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union Culture Commission, World Federation of Hungarians, and Society of American Archivists. She currently teaches art history at the University of Toronto.


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