The Sick Ar ound a Magnetic Pool

curator: Kamil Moskowczenko

artists: Łukasz Huculak, Grzegorz Łoznikow, Łukasz Patelczyk, Karolina Szymanowska


The title of the project, which also describes a 19th-century etching, refers to a peculiar medical practice derived from the scientific theories presented by doctor Franz A. Mesmer. They were intended to prove the existence of a mysterious magnetic force connected with the vitality of nature, especially of humans and animals.

With the benefit of hindsight, the practices promoted by Mesmer and his imitators, as well as the innumerable array of similarly pseudoscientific theories, have been completely or largely discredited.

Although contemporary new theories are disregarded much more quickly, they influence a different group of followers. Whatever is rejected by science becomes the material used by pseudoscientists, gullible journalists and an entire hierarchy of conmen, tricksters and prestidigitators. What connects all these theories is a relatively wide margin of obliqueness, which may be filled up with a new context of interpretation that could radically change the meaning of a given principle. In the historical-conspiratorial variant, this phenomenon leads to revealing a hidden truth rather than providing a new perspective, as was the case with Erich Däniken’s monumental conception, whose complexity seems to successfully refute even the most convincing evidence and, in spite of the passage of time, still germinates in feeble minds.

The scientific-empirical variant is initially unverifiable; it can be disproven only by a properly construed theory. It is important because this variant must be modified to a far greater extent in order for it to become the starting point for pseudoscientific theories.

However, the greatest number of irrational interpretations stem from those hypotheses that have not been sufficiently proven yet, which makes them surprisingly susceptible to a wide array of additional conclusions about their connections or consequences.

Such practices are far from being a historical curiosity. Suffice it to quote the so-called string theory which, aided by quantum paradoxes, has recently fuelled the rather forgotten practices of spiritualism and fortune-telling, theories of contact with extraterrestrial beings, time travelling, and generally speaking – all that which has not been fully explained so far.

Apart from fuelling pseudoscience, errors in science, or erroneous theories, serve a very important role of stimulating the development of civilization for the simple reason that attempts to prove them often lead to real discoveries. However, since the Ptolemaic system, the conflict between theory and observable facts has always been the centre of a myth-forming area and the pillar of parareligious phenomena.

Apart from the fact that throughout its history it must have been a place were false theories were advanced on at least several occasions, the Auditorium of the Faculty of Chemistry and its architecture contribute to the controversial discussion concerning attempts to scientifically approach the notions of aesthetics and functionality, which ignores the actual albeit irrational psychological needs of architecture users.

The Sick Around a Magnetic Pool is a project which, apart from identifying scientific “pools”, can also highlight the existence of a large group of “sick” people who look for remedy in different manifestations of phenomena whose names are usually preceded by prefixes “para-” or “crypto-”.

Stratification – the subject of this year’s SURVIVAL – thus remains a field of scientific phenomena which are subject to diffraction due to the difficulty connected with gathering evidence or the lack of adequate research material. Historically speaking, this struggle could be likened to the lack of acceptance of the fact that meteors can fall on Earth, which was contested even by the greatest scientific minds of the 18th and 19th centuries. Today some unusual and rare natural phenomena, such as the Hessdalen lights or “foo fighters” observed in the skies in the 1940s, also result in a peculiar stratification. For some researchers, the facts are insufficient, while others use them to infer far-fetched conclusions.

The attitude to such occurrences often reveals social stratification, which leads to manipulation and hazardous practices whenever medicine – or chemistry, its modern ally – becomes the subject of scientific falsification.


Łukasz Patelczyk
Piorun / Thunderbolt
malarstwo / painting

Łukasz Huculak
Szaman / Shaman
malarstwo / painting

Grzegorz Łoznikow
Klaser / Album
obiekt / object

Karolina Szymanowska
Sadzawka magnetyczna / Magnetic Pool
instalacja / installation

Catalog, 2017, page 104-108


photo by Małgorzata Kujda