An ecological reading room was arranged on the initiative of Kinga Bartniak and Iwona Ogrodzka in cooperation with the team of the Cyprian Kamil Norwid Provincial and Municipal Library in Zielona Góra. The selection of the books corresponds to the two artists’ project On Water, which is hosted by the library. Kinga Bartniak and Iwona Górniak developed it on the basis of workshops they conducted with young people living in Opolno-Zdrój, in close vicinity of the giant mining and energy conglomerate of Turów. A video and a publication with selected texts by participants are traces of this cooperation. The artists invited the kids to co-create a textual and visual story about their place to live, following the element of water. The nineteenth-century transformation of the Lower Silesian village of Opolno-Zdrój (German: Bad-Oppelsdorf) into a spa town was connected with the discovery of the healing properties of local springs. Since the 1960s, intensified lignite mining by open-cast coal has led to the disappearance of spa waters, air pollution, and the decline of guesthouses and bathing establishments. The landscape in the region has been transformed into a monumental crater surrounded by mine dumps.
The participants engaged their imaginations, dreams, fiction, and alternative knowledge in order to revive water as a mythical person: the guide of a common narrative. They evoked the existence of an invisible world that does not fit within the rationality of the mine’s exploitation of water and land.
The wands appearing in the video are used to detect water veins running in the ground. Finding water with a wand is a ritual of dowsing, a practice that has been practiced since ancient times. Dowsers are convinced of the existence of geopathic radiation that affects people’s health. The activities of Kinga Bartniak and Dorota Ogrodzka took place as part of the Exposures program carried out on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Land of Zgorzelec art retreat, which was devoted to ecological threats. One of the participants of the historical retreat, Jerzy Rosołowicz, was a dowsing practitioner. As artists sensed already half a century ago, the industrial logic of exploiting the Earth will turn it into a place with no future for human civilization.
Iwona Ogrodzka (b. 1991, lives in Wrocław) is a graduate of the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław, where she is currently studying for her doctoral degree. She creates paintings, videos, photographs, and installations, writes essays, and does projects with other artists. Among the themes she explores in her practice are herstories of female emancipation and questions of community in the face of climate crisis and exploitation.
Kinga Bartniak (b. 1995, lives in Wrocław) holds an MFA from the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław, where she is currently earning her doctoral degree; she also studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vilnius. Working with video, objects, interactive installations, animations, camera performances, and internet projects. Bartniak is interested in communication, gaming, and collaboration technologies, as well as the topics of productivity and leisure.
On Water, 2021/2022, installation, HD video, 9’46’’, courtesy of the artists