Monika Berenyi is a filmmaker and documentary storyteller, whose creative practice has been informed by studies in history, visual art, ethnography, and archival science. Engaging interdisciplinary research and production methods, archival materials, and local community networks, her work explores critical topics in contemporary social history through dynamic forms of storytelling. Her work is motivated by an interest in the latent value of archives and oral testimony to the expression and revision of historical narratives, and a fascination by how collective memory is recorded, preserved, and remembered. Her work has consistently facilitated platforms for scholarly discourse, alternative modes of pedagogy, and community collaboration, illuminating the value of oral and visual languages to the process of critical inquiry.
Monika utilizes non-linear storytelling techniques, database aesthetics, traditional documentary forms, and archival materials (photo, moving image, text) to explore latent historical narratives and enable new research materials. Recent projects have engaged topics such as: the 1956 Hungarian immigration wave to Canada; the Sisters of the Order of St. Joseph and Nursing Education in Canada; the Great Depression in the context of the US Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information photographic collection; Detroit’s Civil Rights Movement; and Canadian national identity in the context of realist painting. Monika recently participated in Contact International Photography Festival as guest curator of an award winning multimedia documentary installation which explored criminal defence law practices in Canada and the United States.
Monika holds an MFA in Documentary Media from Ryerson University and an MA in History from the University of Toronto. Her MFA thesis work utilized database aesthetics to enable revisionist historical narratives embedded in the FSA-OWI photographic collection, which resulted in the release of a groundbreaking database documentary (American Document) and documentary book production (What We Are About to Receive: Historical Voices from the US Farm Security Administration Archival File). Monika has taught documentary storytelling, visual art, and Canadian art history at the University of Toronto and Royal Ontario Museum, and her work has been exhibited internationally. Her studio is currently located in Montreal.