Welcome to the Memory of Water podcast. In our first episode, Artistic Director, Mary Conlon talks with Iwona Zając, the artist who represents our Polish partner at the Baltic Sea Cultural Centre. She describes her practice, including her iconic Gdańsk shipyard mural, and her artistic interventions for the international residency programme in Greece, Poland and Scotland.
I presented an event titled “The Broadcast” in reference to the pirate Radio Solidarność (Radio Solidarity) which operated during martial law in the early 1980s in Poland. For Memory of Water, I organised an audience at the historic Gate No. 2 of the Gdańsk Shipyard with Piotr Jagielski, who supervised the technical equipment of Radio Solidarność, and with Maciej Pawlak, who was its editor and author of the book “Radio Solidarność in the Tri-City”. The Gate No. 2 is the place where Lech Wałęsa stood to announce to the waiting crowds the deal that had been struck with the Communist government in 1980.
To get to the first meeting with the activists and inhabitants of Levadia at Nerotrivi, we took the road along the Erkyna river. My attention was drawn to the empty houses with no front walls. They invited me inside without hiding anything.
From the other side of the road, they were perfect imitations of ordinary houses. With windows, doors, a balcony and a house number. No sign of their shameless denudation.
This is a reflection on "Sun in an Empty Room", the work of Iwona Zając in the abandoned home of Zoza and Loukas Papanikolaou.
In contrast to Edward Hopper’s homonymous painting, where the sun enters the room of an empty house as a ‘vanquisher’, in Iwona Zając's work, it enters the empty room of a ramshackle house and the light recomposes the shattered memory of the people who once lived there. The mural depicts the portraits of Zoza and her father, Loukas, with respect, love and discretion. They return the gaze of on-lookers across the River Erkyna. The bond created is one that crosses time to link people, river and place in a reification of memory.