Description of the working process

My visits in Bytom lasted for a week or less. These visits consisted of workshops, interviews, field trips and other events. In between the visits I was working with the material gathered in Helsinki. I asked myself a starting question; how life has changed in the past twenty years in this particular context of Bytom – a post-industrial town in Upper Silesia?  

In one of the first workshops in CSW Kronika I asked the participating people to describe and draw the areas of Bytom, which they had some affective relationship with. I explained the idea behind the ‘refrain’, and asked if they could map out these affects and refrains of their everyday life and experience. How did the city seem for them? Were there certain areas, which would seem ‘better’ or ‘safer’ and conversely, which places made them nervous? After the descriptions, we visited these places in a group. On site they described the site in relation with refrains and affects. On the next day I made a private trip to the sites, photographed them, made my own notes of what I felt or if the place affected me in some particular way. 

In this way, the participants of the workshops were my guides to affective Bytom. In the old square of Bytom, Rynek, there is a statue of a sleeping lion7, which has symbolic value for the people of Silesia. The Lion was an icon for several contradictory events or concepts such as nationalism, Judaism, immigration from Ukraine after World War II – and it was, in fact, the monument of the German-French war in 1817. On the other hand the lion had become a nest of many refrains and motifs of everyday life, such as a climbing surface for the toddlers, as well.

Other similar affects, which I encountered were for instance the oldest money-changing office, kantor, in Bytom; the road number 79 leading to the more ‘fun’ city of Katowice; the turnstile doors of the shopping centre Agora where people got stuck when the centre was opened in November 2010; or the old train station, which serves as a link to Katowice and other surrounding cities in this huge urban area of Silesia. In my field trips, these refrains as physical experiences affected me more than a photographic documentation. The affective refrains became significant for the writing and practicing process of the performance. The affective refrains were the minor nodes of a folding temporality of people living in Bytom; they were a landscape of affective memory. My working process started from these visits in the everyday surroundings and made me immersed in the particular micro-histories of the place. 

Interviews from the children's workshop in Bytom, July 2012.

7 A Silesian artist Theodor Kalide (1801-1863) made the Sleeping Lion in the mid 19th century. However, it was first located in Warsaw and ‘returned’ to Bytom only after the Soviet period.

Workshop with children. Organized by CSW Kronika - Agata Tecl and Martyna Tecl-Reibl - Karolina Kucia and myself. Photo: Agata Cukierska