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Transformer Station - a project by Joanna Rajkowska

Moss, ferns, ivy, water and architecture. A building as a live sculpture, fully given over to the forces of nature. The Transformer Station is currently being created at Na Niskich Łąkach 2a in Wrocław - Joanna Rajkowska is transforming the decaying Modernist building of an old transformer station into one large ecosystem. Beginning of the project: 30 August 2016, at 7:00 PM The European Capital of Culture Wrocław 2016 Visual Arts would like to invite everyone to take part in the event.

Projects created by Joanna Rajkowska always evoke emotions. In the majority of cases they have many aspects, as they are based on work on a specific place, with historical or ideological heritage, often marked with the lack of identity, trauma or repression. They, however, do not provide a diagnosis, they do not give any easy answers. They only suggest solutions, showing what things could be like. The majority of the projects are created, live and get old in the public space, which is why their matter is not only the combination of all organic and non-organic entities comprising them, but first and foremost their complex relations.

This time, Rajkowska decided to take a closer look at the dilapidated building of an old transformer station – located at Na Niskich Łąkach 2a, built in the 1930s and decommissioned in the 90 – as part of the Wrocław - Entrance from the Backyard project.  The building itself was transformed, allowing a new ecosystem to be created there. The Modernist architecture is being slowly overgrown with various kinds of plants, and water is now flowing from two windows. The artist, supported by experts in many areas, decided to plant a variety of vegetation, including ferns, ivy, geranium, moss, spindle, she also left seeds and seedlings of ruderal plants - which are the first ones to settle the land transformed by man - in pots.

“The ‘Transformer Station’ was created with future in mind, in which non-human organisms will take the building over and change it into a functioning habitat. One of the points of reference is clearly historical - it is the fear of water and elements. Water and plants were treated as a causative force - the shape and the fate of the project depend fully upon them. The vegetative cycle is a spectacle of non-human forces, playing out on the stage created by architects, and despite the fact that it is intended for the eyes of mankind, the main actors and inhabitants of the building are the organisms comprising the new ecosystem. The ‘Transformer Station’ thus becomes a gesture of giving a clearly human creation, such as piece of architecture, to other species”, Joanna Rajkowska explained.

The opening of the project will take place on 30 August 2016 at 7:00 p.m. The artist will be available from 25 August (Thursday) between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., and everyone interested in the installation will have an opportunity to  discuss with the author about her project, the process of its creation and the upcoming changes. It will allow the audience to take a closer look at the methods of working on such a complex project, learning about its complexity.

“The senses and additional meanings of Rajkowska’s projects often reveal themselves after some time, during discussions, exchanges of thoughts with the recipients of her activities. This was also the case with her Greetings from Jerusalem Avenue and Oxygenator. We are very curious about her current project”, said Natalia Romaszkan, coordinator of the “Wrocław - Entrance from the Backyard” project, a part of which is the “Transformer Station”.


Project, idea, concept: Joanna Rajkowska
Implementation of the project:
Architectural cooperation: Paweł Karpa
Constructor: Mateusz Bilski
Consultation, selection of plants: Marta Weber-Siwirska, Ph. D. Eng., Magdalena Zelek and Jagoda Podgórska (SKN AK, Green Ambassardors),
Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences
Realisation: Marta Krasnopiórko, Patryk Szelawa // Technika w Ogrodzie
Collaboration: Anna Pluta, Krystian Pryłowski, Aleksandra Jach
Support: Management Board of Green Areas in Wrocław, Polskie Stowarzyszenie “Dachy Zielone” [“Green Roofs” Association in Poland]

The “Transformer Station” by Joanna Rajkowska is a part of the “Wrocław - Entrance from the Backyard” project, the largest experiment and artistic activity in Poland, comprising dozens of artistic interventions in public spaces in Wrocław, the majority of which takes place in the backyards of the city. The activities began in 2015 and will run until the end of 2016. The artists cooperate with the residents in each space, so that the final products are jointly negotiated works. The goal of the project is to try and evoke the sense of responsibility for the space that is so close to the residents, and yet “forgotten by everyone”, neglected and destroyed. This year, the activities take place in the Oława Suburb, Ołbin, Huby, Kleczków, Kozanów and Brochów districts. The project is a part of European Capital of Culture Wrocław 2016 Visual Arts event programme.

Find out more:
Joanna Rajkowska – artist (born in 1968 in Bydgoszcz, living and working in London and Nowogród). Creator of public projects, films, installations and ephemeral actions and situations, taking place in urban space. Among her projects are architectural and geological fantasies, artificial excavation sites, underwater sculptures in rivers, incense smoke and geodes filled with crystals. The Greetings from Jerusalem Avenue (2002) , which became one of the symbols of Warsaw, remains her most famous project to date. Her public projects include commissions by CCA Zamek Ujazdowski (2007, Oxygenator, Poland), Trafo Gallery (2008, The Airways, Hungary), Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw (2009, Ravine, Poland), The Showroom (2010, Chariot, UK), British Council (2010, Benjamin in Konya, Turkey), 7th Berlin Biennale (2012, Born in Berlin, Germany), Royal Society of Arts, Arts Council England (2012, The Peterborough Child, UK), Frieze Projects 2012 (2012, Forcing a Miracle, UK), Institute for Contemporary Ideas and Art (2014, Carpet, Sweden) and Wysing Arts Centre (2015, installation of The Peterborough Child, UK). Joanna Rajkowska studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, in the workshop of professor Jerzy Nowosielski in 1988-1993, while also studying art history at the Jagiellonian University in 1987-1992. In 2007, the artist received the prestigious “Paszport Polityki” award, presented by the Polityka weekly, in recognition of her unusual projects carried out in the public space, and reaching out to a person lost wandering in the city, and the Polish Cultural Foundation Award for lifetime achievements.

Wrocław – Entrance from the Backyard: /; / Admission to all events taking place as part of the “Wrocław - Entrance from the Backyard” project is free.


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