Columbia University in the City of New York

The Harriman Institute Presents

Children of the War

by Marina Tëmkina and Michel Gérard

Photo of painting by Michel Gerard and a photograph by Marina Temkina.


About the Exhibit

Children of the War is organized around the publication of a new artist book by Marina Tëmkina and Michel Gérard titled Boys Fight. The text for this publication originated in 2014 in reaction to Russia’s initial invasion into Ukraine and was completed amid anxiety about the presidential election in the United States. The texts are written in the language of absurdity grounded in a feminist critique of the persistent presence of war. Gérard’s drawings taken from the French dictionary Petit Larousse, published in Paris in 1942 during the Nazi Occupation, appear alongside Tëmkina’s texts. The artist was a small child then and it was encouraging for him to look at the images of athletes playing traditional male sports. In imagery of fighting cavemen, fragmented dinosaurs, sportsmen, and combative games, Gérard contends with the dissonance between play and violence, strength and growth, and word and image. These original drawings are presented at the Harriman Institute for the first time.

This exhibition focuses on the traumatic consequences of war for children’s psyches. What images and feelings does our conscience carry throughout life? Why do we, the children of the war and post-war period baby boomers, return to this experience of the family and collective traumas again and again? The exhibition includes Tëmkina’s cycle of twelve texts “Children Who Starve” about the psychological self-negation as a result of food deprivation that children of the war experience.

Images (from left to right):
Marina Tëmkina, from the series of photographs The Kitchens Where I Cooked, Tarusa, Russia, 1998
Michel Gérard, from the series of drawings Multiple Self-Portrait as a Caveman, 2004

The exhibit is co-organized with the Russian American Cultural Center.

About the Artists

Marina Tëmkina is a poet-artist whose interdisciplinary and cross-genre practice embodies her multinational immigrant experiences. Her books include the poetry collection What Do You Want? (Ugly Duckling Presse), three artist books, including Who Is I? (Content), two books produced in collaboration with the artist Michel Gérard, and five books of poetry in Russian (the last two of which were published by NLO). Tëmkina has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, among others. Tëmkina was a recipient of the Charles Revson Fellowship on the Future of New York in 1999–2000 and a visiting scholar at the Harriman Institute in 2000–2001. She read her poetry at Barnard College under the title the “Russian-Jewish-Immigrant-Woman-Poet in Perpetual Identity Crisis.” She recently read her poetry at the opening of the Harriman Institute’s photography exhibition Faces of the Leningrad Underground. In her professional career she specialized in refugee resettlement, cultural difference, gender, identity and trauma. She works as a psychoanalytically-trained psychotherapist.

Michel Gérard is a French sculptor living in New York. During the last twenty years, he has worked with the memories of his childhood in occupied Paris during World War II. From 1997 to 2003, Gérard completed a series of major international exhibitions on the theme of his childhood memories during the Occupation which resulted in three publications. Gérard’s artworks reenacted a destabilizing image of war and its effects on childhood psychology through imagery of food and coal shortages, documentary video of aerial bombardments, and a sculptural installation of a battalion of chairs on crutches marching across the floor. He has had more than 50 solo exhibitions in galleries and museums in Europe, the United States, Japan, Korea, and Israel.



Monday–Friday, 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
October 28, 2024 through December 12, 2024


Harriman Institute Atrium
420 W 118th St, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10027

Visitor Information

All non-Columbia visitors must meet the primary vaccination series mandate.

No registration or tickets required.