Birds of Poland ('20-ongoing)
Pamela Bożek, Jan Jurczak
Birds of Poland is an action we are conducting at the Centre for Foreigners in Łuków. After nearly three months since the closure of centres in June of this year, we decided to temporarily relocate to the area; attempts at on-line meetings without fast internet and an insufficient number of devices proved frustrating and did not fulfil expectations of any party. Birds of Poland has an educational-performative dimension, taking place in neighbouring parks and forests. We are focusing primarily on sustaining our long-built relationship, while undertaking communal visual activities. Ptaki Polski [Birds of Poland] are also the title of Jan Sokołowski's atlas: stories of birds observed on the territory of the Polish state, narrated in beautiful, poetic language, which have become our inspiration and space of reference, on the level of visuality and content. Every person participating in the activities has become a bird: they learn about the bird's appearance and habits, and, jointly, we build nests. Birds of Poland, however, are chiefly a reflection on freedom, nature of borders and on belonging – we identify with critters whose nature is migration.
Since early June, we have become acquainted on foot with surrounding forests, which could at last be experienced in complete liberty and freedom. Our contact with nature was unbounded and sensual. All willing girls and boys as well as their mothers participated in encounters and excursions. In June, the strawberry picking season began in Łuków, which, for the children, spells a grounding in tiny apartments, particularly during constraints of the pandemic.
For the duration of our common activities, we assumed names of migratory birds, the return of which to Poland is impatiently awaited every year, and every person created a mask of a selected species. Ultimately, sculptures-masksturned out to be significant not only on the visual level: besides a pandemic gesture of covering one's face, the birds relieved us also of the burden related to image capture, protected by the Polish Office for Foreigners. Every meeting was a conversation on the nature of species, their habits, imitation of their noises, observations and reading of Sokołowski's atlases. Thus, for conversations about migration, we assumed a non-human perspective, freed from the burden and entanglement in existing laws and international agreements.