Taniec Kruka

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I was invited to take part in the Site-Ations international project for 2005 called ‘Sense in Place’ (organised by the Artists Project and UWIC). The project happened in 8 different European countries with an emphasis on both new member states to the EU and countries that were geographically on the periphery of European borders. I represented Wales in Lodz, Poland. The project in Lodz was called ‘Fabryka Fantasmagoria’ and took place in a disused textile factory. Artists were asked to respond to the site in terms of its architecture and history.

The textile industry in Poland flourished during the 1800’s and early 1900’s and Lodz became the city most strongly connected with textile production in Poland. Lodz did not exist as a city until the textile industry took off here, and what had been a small collection of towns and villages, mushroomed into a huge city in the space of 50 years. I was interested in the impact that this must have had on the people of the area, and how during this period, the changing status of the land must have challenged our tendency to make a sharp distinction between urban and rural lifestyles and communities.

I chose to work with two sites, firstly the disused factory where the work was installed, and also the ballroom of the Poznanski Palace. Israel Poznanski was one of the most successful of the textile industrialists and built a Palace for himself and his family which included a ballroom. The Palace is now a museum. In Lodz, the factory owners would build their houses right next to the factory and the houses and communal gardens of the workers would also be very close by. This model seemed to imitate the feudal system of rural areas with a Landowner surrounded by his land and the peasants who worked for him. It suggested that the rapid growth of the city had meant that factory owners simply adapted this rural system to meet the new circumstances.

I developed my previous research which has explored the relationship between humans animals and the land for this work, focusing on the Crow as an animal who seems to transcend the rural / urban divide, adapting quite comfortably in both situations. The Crow is also sometimes seen as a messenger for the female deity who embodies the land in folklore.

I collaborated with a folk dancer (Agnieszka Nasnajewisz) to create a short film ‘Taniec Kruka’ (Crowdance) which attempted to open up a liminal space between oppositions such as city / country, aristocracy / peasant, folk / classical, past / present. The dancer was dressed in a black ball gown and wore a crowmask. She choreographed and performed a dance to Chopin Mazurka Opus 68. While Chopin is associated with classical piano music and lived most of his life in Paris, his origins are Polish and he often drew inspiration from old Polish folk melodies. The music I used for the film has been arranged by Maria Pomianowska for an ancient Polish folk instrument called the suka bilgoraska which loosely resembles a Viola. In this recording she is accompanied by other folk instruments. The film was projected in the disused factory onto a screen made out of semi-transparent fabric stretched over a cloths rail found in the factory. The film was back-projected so that a ghostly mirror image also appeared on the floor.

For more information about Site-ations and the Sense in Place project, please go to www.site-ations.org/senseinplace

stills from the film:

 

 

 

film still with dancing crowlady

film still with dancing crowlady

film still with dancing crowlady

film still with dancing crowlady

Installation shot in textile factory, Lodz, Poland

installation shot of film in Lodz

 

 

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