Animation
How to stop time by the motion of images?
Visual disclosure of ideas
Animation allows us to speak the language of metaphors, conveying our experiences through movement and images. We see the animation process as a way of group immersion into topics and questions that are difficult to answer with words.

Parts of ourselves are turning into cartoon characters, while parts of the world become a story on the screen. Imagination, embodied in the work of the cartoon leads us to unexpected allegories and answers. The voices that are not heard in the (mainstream) society become an old dweller in remote villages or an endangered species of animals – like a pangolin or a dodo bird. The heroes tell their stories, dancing in the background of the changing eras and political regimes.

One part of the cartoons "We Here" is created by professional animation artists, while the other part is made together with children and adolescents in difficult life situations.
A series of cartoons about endangered species of animals, created together with children in hospitals, relates to the issue of the animal species' extinction while the metaphora invites a reflection about the voices we don't hear in society.

Stories about animals always attract children, regardless of age or life situation. In the scenario's work process, participants learn about the ecological balance and human's responsibility for the environment. When reflecting on the causes and consequences of animal extinction, we look for possible solutions to this serious problem. Each story has a new style of storytelling, a new design of performance. In this way, from cartoon to cartoon, we allow a space where children can develop creative thinking and cultivate their artistic skills.
Sopot Song Festival in August 1969
This cartoon is a dance over half a century of our history listening to the song by Alexander Galich "Sopot Song Festival in August 1969" The cartoon was created by teenagers, for whom it is crucial to establish their own civic position, develop opinions about consciousness, justice and humanism. While making the animation film we did a lot of research, arguing, juxtaposing to sharpen our own opinions, and definitely felt a communion.

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One of the animation's authors: In September 2018, during our "We Here" pilgrimage on the island of Gotland, we dived into the topics which challenge us. For a long time, I could not find the right words for a feeling I was carrying during that journey. The right word was given by Dima Zakharov – co-responsibility – and this "co" was necessary for me. Human co-responsibility reflects what is important for me in life and work with children, adolescents, everyone. Not collective, not common, but everyone's responsibility for themselves and for what is happening around.

These thoughts coincided with the start of an animation workshop for teenagers. Among its participants, the process of establishing a civic position, developing notions about consciousness, justice and humanism are very crucial. While making the animation film we did a lot of research, arguing, juxtaposing to sharpen our own opinions, and definitely felt a communion.

The first project that we worked during this fall brought great openings for investigation, discussion, analysis, all of which gave us the sense of a true co-creation.


We are happy to present the cartoon inspired by the theme "Song Festival in Sopot in August 1969" of Alexander Galich, in which we dance over half a century of our history . It is a dedication to the centenary of the poet (A. Galich); the song is performed by Valeria Kogan.

Techniques: stop-motion, eclair, paper cutout animation, hand drawn frame-by-frame animation.

Teenage group of the animation studio "Da"
Know snow
The animation film was shot during the art laboratory "We Here: companionship in the wilds". in a remote northern village almost abandoned, like thousands of other villages. Here, away from the bustle of the city, a new intentional community has emerged, reviving a dying village and developing a new culture which values and strives for common action and care for the land. This was home for the Art Laboratory: a gathering of 70 artists, musicians, game technicians, philosophers, ecologists and carriers of traditional culture where we co-lived and worked together to give expression to the voices that are not heard.
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At the Art Laboratory we carried out the pre-production of the animation. We came up with a script and a storyboard which gave light to an artistic solution. It was an intensive experience of a collaborative creative process and decision making. The major part of the production and post-production has been completed in the city, after we came back home.
Last year
The animated film was shot as an artistic interpretation of an academic research about causes and consequences of climate change, particularly the cyclical shifts of seasons and their consequences in the northern regions of Russia.
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The author of the animation film: I got access to field recordings (interviews with local residents) from 10 settlements in the north of Russia and I made the cartoon under the impression of these interviews... From the voices of the indigenous people I sensed the connection with the land, which in turn, made me aware of my own disconnectedness as an urban resident. It revealed the topic of responsibility for the ongoing catastrophe, the chronic hopelessness of the Russian province and the eternal expectation of a miracle or hope for luck. The whole ecosystem in this area is on a very fragile edge... and, so far, there are no visible actions that could improve the situation; there is only deterioration.

The film was inspired by interviews with residents of four northern regions of Russia; an artistic attempt to comprehend the causes and consequences of climate change, particularly cyclical shifts of the seasons.

This cartoon is based on the results of an annual study – "Climate, education, youth". The first show was made at the exhibition of this project.
Where has the puma gone?
The animation film about Puma has been created in the rehabilitation department for children who underwent marrow transplantation. Oriental puma was a rival for people in deer hunting, and hunted livestock, so people treated it mercilessly. When creating the script, we talked with the children about loss and search, about friendship and competition. The idea that none disappears into nowhere supported us and the children very much.

Pangolin
The animation film about the ancient and now endangered animal, Pangolin, was created with the participation of patients from the oncological departments of children hospitals. In our classes, the participants change all the time – someone starts an intensive care unit and cannot leave the intensive care unit, someone finishes the procedure and goes home to rest, then returns, someone leaves forever. Therefore during over six months of filming more than twenty children have participated in the work.
Steller's sea cow
This is a story about the infamous class on marine mammals. During several classes at the Petrov Cancer Hospital, we studied the history of these animals with the children, remembered what was known about them, made copies of the images, discussed the role of humans in the death of sea cows and the possibility of another outcome. One day, during the development of the scenario, a boy named Lyonya appeared with his encyclopedic knowledge about sea cows. He knew 100 times more than all of us and helped significantly in the development of the plot. The animation film does not document biologicl facts but reflects the creative process with children and shows our desire to find an alternative course of the history.
A seal will remember us
An animated film about the Caribbean monk seal, whom had last been seen by a man in distant 1952. We worked on the story with children from a social crisis center. In most cases, these are children from disadvantaged families. There was a boy fascinated with passenger ships. He constantly invented his own ships – Raik, Tuzik, Fudik. And then someone came up with an idea of a marine ambulance – a boat that helps all the animals in trouble. And we all started to think whom we could help…
Where are you, Dodo?
This cartoon is a riddle invented by children undergoing treatment at the oncological department of the Almazov hospital. The script is a search for the answer to the question: "Where did all the Dodo birds disappear from the distant island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean?" In the class, the children studied everything related to the fragile ecosystem of the earth, talked about the way human life affects our planet. We also thought about how we can see much of what had already disappeared from the face of the Earth. It was important for the children to come up with their alternative ending of the story, in which the birds remain to live. This task was of particular importance since at oncological hospitals children often face the death of their friends, and a magical ending was giving the kids strength and hope.
Background

Initially, the animation part of "We Here" project was conceived as a series of educational cartoons about extinct animals, as an opportunity to talk with children about the environment and the human influence on the Earth's biosphere. But in the process of communication with the group, we realized that we didn't want to "blame" the children who are already in a difficult situation. It was much more interesting just to look at extinct animals – all these indricotheriums and moropuses, and to admire how diverse and incredible the animal world is. Still we could not understand how to make up a story about extinct species. It seemed unfair to make it as if their story had already ended, and to pretend that "maybe somewhere you can still find a dinosaur". We talked about these issues with the children, but couldn't come up with a story. We felt attracted to long-living species, these incredibly stable organisms that remained unchanged from ancient times as if they just didn't care about evolution. With their species' histories, they seemed to say: "I'm good already !". There are several such examples. The most famous is probably a coelacanth fish. They had existed in their form even before the release of amphibians on land, and survived up to nowadays. Less well-known are the pangolins, they appeared in the Upper Paleocene, and were very there in the time of large dinosaurs. We began to shoot a story about a cute animal that had survived through many disasters. The scene with birthday celebration and the cake was invented by children; Vlad drew a stunning arch decorated with sculptures of elephants. Since several species of pangolins live in Southeast Asia, we studied the residential buildings, temples and the nature of those places. For the initial extinction scene, we examined archaeological reconstructions, studied the flora and fauna. Of course, drawing dead animals is another story. Usually adults do not encourage this, the topic of death scares and is generally prohibited. And then suddenly – you can! And the older boys joyfully splashed out everything they had accumulated, they could not be stopped. The topic of the war is similar. In the cartoon the battle scene was just a passage, but there was so much joy to push and crush troops under the camera. Sometimesit is important to give the opportunity to experience different processes in process of cartoon-making. It may be important for someone to construct just at the moment - and he paints houses and flowers. And someone wants to destroy - and it's better to do it with painted characters than with the mother or younger children in the playroom.

As a result, we've got a story about a survivor Pangolin: such a quiet and inconspicuous super-hero who calmly waddles through all the catastrophes he encounters on his way. I think it's great that we created such a cartoon with children who undergo long and sometimes very difficult treatment.

The hospitals in which the cartoons were made: St. Petersburg Clinical Scientific and Practical Center for Specialized Types of Medical Care; Federal State Budgetary Institution Scientific Research Center of Oncology named after N.N. Petrov; Oncology department of the hospital named after V.A. Almazov.