Napoleon Square with the Prudential skyscraper in downtown Warsaw, 1947; photo: Edward Falkowski/CFK/Forum.

  • Recycling a specific text excerpt in every installation, using repetition as a compositional tool
  • Working with the metaphor of ruins in different ways, reinventing it at the same time
  • Interweaving the story of my grandmother into the content of each installation
  • Recycling visual material as well as objects from previous installations
  • Exhibiting messages left by visitors

The basis for an idea I have been thinking about took shape in 2014. Visiting Tokyo, I saw a drawing of a city in ruins. Standing some distance from the drawing at the Museum of Contemporary Art, I was completely convinced it was a drawing inspired by a famous photograph of Warsaw, destroyed in bombing at the end of the Second World War – a photograph that had been a part of my upbringing in Poland. To my great surprise, but rather obviously, the drawing depicted not Warsaw but Tokyo after the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923.  In that moment a sentence emerged that has been part of Ruins ever since:

We have all built our cities upon ruins of other cities, our lives upon ruins of other lives.

Building upon Ruins

Ruins is a series of interactive artworks, developed site specifically, connected with each other through the interweaving of extracted elements of previous works. The selection of interwoven elements is based upon a few principles:

  • The sign of Ruins is always present in every installation

In 2016 I have prepared a presentation of my ideas for the installation Ruins at KiK (Art in Context) conference in Kristiansand, held at an island called Bragdøy. The island had specific historical aspects, which I used as a departing point for the stories told through the installation.


Here the first experiments with interweaving as a method took place - the reader will be presented to those in the following chapter - Interweaving. 

“We have all built our cities upon ruins of other cities, our lives upon ruins of other lives.”

Ruins Bragdøya

Through this experience, ruins as a metaphor transformed and expanded in several directions, and lost, for me, its original negative connotation. If something is a never-ending process, if we have always built upon ruins, then we always will be able to. We will always have the possibility to start over again, but at the same time not through rebuilding – here the expanded understanding of ruins as a metaphor made me realise that rebuilding as a concept had for me lost its purpose. Rebuilding in a sense requires making a copy of what has been destroyed, a copy that never will be enough. Building upon something takes history into consideration, but at the same time makes it possible to shape the content according to what is true here and now and include what we hope for the future.


As a product of the postmodern era, both as a human being and as an artist, I have several departing points in the way I understand the world around me to consist of the layers I have mentioned before. I am a part of a discourse in which being an artist without a formal education (experimenting with formats, media, and expressions in which I have no formal or informal education) while simultaneously pursuing an academic career is in fact a possibility. These positions are also a part of the process of interweaving in creating the installation. While ruins as a concept for an installation departed from the experience I had in Tokyo, formulating this complex universe took a couple of years, and will hopefully never end. The installation has been a part of both academic research and presentations and artistic research and exhibitions.1

For the year 2017 I was granted an artistic residency at Fossekleiva Cultural Centre through the Norwegian Cultural Council. As part of the residency, I researched stories from and the history of the Berger factory, where the cultural centre resides, and created the installation Ruins Fossekleiva.


Here I worked with interweaving as a compositional approach through materials, text, and participatory strategies, which are presented in the chapter ‘Waving through Walls’.

Ruins Fossekleiva

Accepting my proposal for its collaborative art project, Museum Ovartaci invited me to contribute an installation to its temporary residence, moving between Risskov Psychiatric Hospital and its new location at the Bunker Cultural House. Hence, in 2019 I donated the installation Ruins Ovartaci to the museum.


Working with the installation I revisited some of the previous modes of interweaving. I also experimented with new methods, using photography, described in the chapter ‘Walls of Inscriptions’.

Ruins Ovartaci