Artist: Karolina Łebek
Sanare (from Latin – to heal)
In 2018 I was fortunate enough to undertake a period of research and production of a new video work, exploring my heritage as a member of a Lemko community. Throughout the tragic history of the banished Lemkos, forcefully removed from their ancestral homeland in the Beskid Niski area of Carpathian Mountains in a series of violent deportations following WWII, worship and singing have remained crucial and unifying factors in recognising and maintaining a shared sense of cultural identity, revealing unique mythologies, forgotten rituals and rites of passage. I’m drawing on the cultural, spiritual and personal accounts of violence, trauma and shame manifested through generations to create a musical, performative and visual experience in which the wounded voices of the past mould into a song in the present, striving for recognition and reparation.
I will be returning to the Carpathian Mountains in Poland, exploring the history of a Lemko relative, a XIX century professor of Chemistry, Emilian Czyrnianski as a point of departure. Emilian was one of the leading academics at the time in Krakow, who aside from his notable work in the field of organic chemistry, contributed vastly to the research in the field of balneology – a branch of medicine studying medicinal springs and the therapeutic effects of bathing. First, I will be investigating his academic work at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, where he became a rector at a very young age. He published work studying properties of the mountain region springs, mainly focusing on the town Krynica Zdroj, known as a health resort town for centuries. One of my earliest memories connects to sampling mineral waters of this town, in one of the five springs active to this day. Krynica Zdroj is one of the most popular spa destinations in Poland, with specifically designed recovery programs, tailored to different needs. I will be travelling to one of them, called sanatoriums - both as a patient and an observer. I will be partaking in the healing processes, gathering information about medicinal properties of different types of natural materials, focusing on the inner worlds of the participants and spaces where healing occurs. I will be visiting different springs and wells, travelling to surrounding towns which fall under Lemko territory, creating a video and sound work, existing as a meditation on healing, recovery and our connection to nature beyond the physical.
The project ‘Sanare pt. 1’ takes a form on a video installation accompanied by sound and live performative elements, existing as a meditation on identity and healing, mental health and connection to nature beyond the physical.
Supported by the Arts Council England.