In July I was invited to take part in the 7th International Sokołowsko Festival of Ephemeral Art in Poland. Konteksty (Contexts in English) is the annual festival curated by Małgorzata Sady, which takes place in and around the site of a former Sanitorium in Sokołowsko, southern Poland.
This Sanitorium, developed by Dr Hermann Brehmer in 1885, was the worlds first specialised tuberculosis sanatorium, using innovative methods of climatic and dietary treatments to alleviate patients’ health.
In Situ Contemporary Art Foundation acquired the premises in 2007, and are working to rebuild it after a 2005 fire destroyed the historic monument. It now houses both the International Cultural Laboratory as well as the Krzysztof Kieślowski Archive, and hosts international arts festivals, residencies and cinematic events throughout the year.
Housed at the top of the tall tower throughout the festival, my installation configured works in progress with ephemera of Blood Culture: responding to the unique context of the Sanitorium, particularly as an historical and architectural site of bio-medical research. The installation plays with the idea of cell – both as an architectural space (such as the cloister of a monastery, or an opportunity for confinement) – and the practice of culturing cells through techniques of contemporary bio-medicine (“cell-culture”).
The installation consisted of three distinct elements in the space – a sculpture, video loop and a tabletop, upon which I placed a number of objects – as ephemera of blood culture. My hope was that this might offer a way to engage with the practices of blood culture, one that could be open-ended and suggestive – possibly a poetic reading of such practices. The audience were free to move around the space and pick up the objects (which they did).