Herba Polonica, 2021

Artists Mateusz Kowalczyk
Genre Object   Performance
Edition Survival 19
  • performance/object

Mateusz Kowalczyk’s work is a continuation of the 2020 project Herba Polonica. One of its parts is a performance in which the artist appears in a special jumpsuit made of jute and industrial hemp herds acquired from a farmer. Hemp is a valuable resource – it can be used to make animal feed, textiles (it is a more durable and cheaper alternative to cotton), rope and even “hempcrete,” i.e. special environmentally-friendly concrete. What is more, it has unique phytoremediation properties, allowing it to neutralise contamination in soil, e.g. in areas of increased industrial activity. Unfortunately, hemp is still underutilised. The object in Kowalczyk’s work is a birdhouse made of hemp herds – the same ones that were used to produce his outfit. Hemp seeds are a protein-rich food for birds, which are keen to eat it and sometimes nest in it. In this way, the revitalisation of the boiler room of the former PAFAWAG plant merges with the artist’s work with hemp to offer a spectrum of contemporary healing practices – in a metaphorical as well as practical sense.

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