ABOUT "WALKING NOTES"
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
A walk to the river
The river is pure movement. The current, tirelessly flowing downstream, absorbs fragments of its memories along the way. Leaves, sticks, plastic bottles. That which stays afloat moves forward, only to be washed ashore at some point. That which clings to the brush on the bank, creates a separate life. Plastic bottles become deformed, moss begins to grow on them. The sticks and leaves, intertwined into a shapeless mass, form a kind of quilt folding along the banks. Seemingly unchanging, the river looks a little different every time I’m there. I keep coming back. Sometimes I draw a map of the road in my mind. Fragrances from different times overlap. Time overlaps too. The present is mixed with memories, recent or more distant. The changing temperature during a bicycle trip in the summer overlaps with the winter walk. Snow glitters, resembling coconut. Soft, fluffy. I can almost taste it.
The road to the river sometimes looks like an undiscovered excavation site. Fragments of fabrics emerge from underneath the trampled sand. The slippery surface returns its contents, pushes them back. A fragment of a pink and red chequered sweater. A torn shirt that used to be white. The worn, buckled linoleum on the roadside looks like a microscale mountain range. Nature begins to absorb it, ivy and bindweed tenderly entwine this warped fragment of the well-trodden floor. Ceramic dishes, fragments of bricks, remains of glaze fill in the hollows made by rainfall. However, it is the fabrics that make the biggest impression. Deformed, abandoned human remains that used to be worn for various occasions, silent observers of reality. Now, trampled into the structure of the road, they occasionally resurface, reminding about their existence. Who wore them? How did they end up here? Perhaps someone dropped them inadvertently, they fell off the bike carrier, it was too hot, someone forgot to take them. Each of these items is a form of memory about an individual and their history.
A walk to the studio
The thought process kicks in as soon as the front door is closed. The staircase is the liminal point. As I go down, I look through the windows on the mezzanines. Sometimes I stoop slightly to see more. The change in air temperature revives me. I keep thinking about what awaits me in the studio. At the same time, I bring myself into a state of concentration by observing the surrounding reality. Sometimes I think about the past, about the people who used to tread on the same pavement. I pass by a mound made of soil dug up during the construction of the Słowacki Estate. Hansen* didn’t like to dispose of the soil. Once dug out, it would be used to create a little mound elsewhere. In winter, children go sledding there, and a snowmen estate grows next to it. Another group comes in the evening and destroys the snow figures. A large, beautiful, empty space in the middle of the estate. As if from another time. I’m afraid that it will be developed in a practical way. I come to the studio and draw a mound.
In summer, my pace slows down. Older people are sitting on the benches and talking to each other. I slow down to hear their stories. Sometimes they exchange information, at other times they become absorbed in political disputes or discussions about transience. The joy of being together is in the air. I try to breathe in some of it. I buy flowers and radishes from an old woman who tells me that she “has an old wallet” and that her retirement is overdue. The flowers will bloom in the studio. When they wither, I won’t throw them away, they have a beautiful shape.
Walks away from home are of a different nature. Heightened senses are ready for exploration. The new is coming; it may hide in the nooks and crannies of the rocks, on the well-trodden path. The eyes wander in all directions. Thinking about past walks, when we are in another time and place, is also valuable. We remember smells and shapes. A specific thought from that moment evokes the image that we saw when it first emerged.
On the way back, my pockets are heavy with physical traces of the walk: pebbles, fragments of pottery, green sea glass, frosted, part of an unknown whole.
* Oskar Hansen (1922–2005) was a Polish architect, theorist, painter, sculptor, teacher.
Magda and Ludomir Franczak’s studio is located in a building designed by Zofia and Oskar Hansen.
Kaszuby / Poland
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