R//C Platform Foundation cooperation with artist - Iwona Zając in the I_Improve project.

R//C Platform Foundation appointed Polish artist - Iwona Zając as their "changemaker" in the I_Improve project.

The methodology chosen by us is STORY-WORK-a comprehensive story approach (combining) storytelling with story-listening (collecting) and story-triggering. Working with stories is aimed at bringing the change (for better) – within the organisation, workplace and/or the relations with their audiences. What is more, collective and personal stories are also important for social change.

While making this decision we took into account her experience of a participatory art practise:

  • as a visual artist working in the shipyard area: her story collecting and telling focused on the retired or made redundant male shipyard workers, her activities empowered those people by giving them a voice.
  • as a curator/educator at Sopot Museum; the social context being City of Sopot residents past and present. By collecting items and stories connected to them the museum develops very close bonds with their audiences.

Iwona Zajac's works carry an emotional load and stem from the human experience. She pays attention to the location of a project – she starts with collecting detailed information and builds connection with people to whom the project will be directly or indirectly related. To avoid intrusive interventions, she develops strong relationships with people, invites them to cooperate - and listens to their stories. Her practice carries respect for hard labour, which determined the medium of her self-expression – murals she created require a lot of time and at the same time an enormous care and attention.

She also uses digital tools. “I’ve been approached by people who asked for the mural-related materials to be publicly accessible.
The result was a website Stoczniaweterze  in both Polish and English.

It contains transcripts, recorded testimonials of the workers as well as a photographic documentation of the „Shipyard” mural and a free digital „Shipyard” catalogue. This way I’d like to preserve a part of history of our city and of the people that live in it.”

Iwona will talk about her work and inspirations on 29th December at 4 pm at the Baltic Sea Cultural Centre in Gdansk.

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