Local stories, craftmanship and potencial enchanted in objects. About the Stanca Soare residency in Wrocław.   

During a month-long stay in Wrocław in May 2023, Romanian artist Stanka Soare led a series of creative encounters entitled ‘The homely industry’. MagiC Carpets resident invited the city’s residents to join a collaborative search for useful leftover, discarded items in our immediate surroundings. The workshop group explored the shapes, textures and features of the objects, giving the finds new functions.

Curatorial text

A month-long residency of the Romanian artist Stanca Soare in Wrocław is another example of how important travelling is for our artistic endeavours. During her stay in the new city, the artist had a chance to observe the daily functioning of a cultural institution whose main recipients are the city’s residents. She also dug into archives and exhibits from the olden days. Thanks to this, she had a chance to learn about the history of local craftsmanship, which was mostly shaped by people’s migrations to Wrocław after 1945 (e.g. re-emigrants from Romanian Bukovina). She cooperated with the Ethnographic Museum and the local artist Olga Budzan in search of unique stories. Because Wrocław Institute of Culture’s residencies rely on sharing knowledge, Stanca Soare also presented her artistic experience at a series of creative meetings and an open presentation. 

During her work in Barbara, studio tours and field trips, the artist talked about various techniques for altering everyday objects. She was interested mostly in second-hand objects or things brought to the meetings by the workshop participants. The theme of her exploration was “household industry.” Stanca has been exploring this concept in her works for a long time. During her stay in Wrocław, the Romanian artist multiple times referred to an important collaboration with the weaver Tanti Florica. The duet cooperation was a part of her deep individual research, which she started in 2021, on the weaving techniques rooted in Romanian society until the mid-21st century.  

DIY, demolition or artistic creation? What happened during the workshops?   

The workshops were visited by weavers of different proficiency levels, DIYers, and enthusiastic beginners who wanted to learn from each other and exchange ideas on objects found at home. These meetings aimed to create utility objects in a chosen technique. But it soon turned out that the group took great pleasure in cooperation and the meetings, and the outcome was secondary. One of the participants, Ramalakshmi, a Wrocław resident from India, besides active participation in the meetings, also kept bringing new objects created from discovered elements. Among others, she made a carton basket which she decorated with hand-made paper flowers. Ramalakshmi was inspired by a prototype created several days prior by Stanca. The artist created the basket’s handle herself with a loom devised in Wrocław. She made a strip of fabric which she attached to the object.   

Łukasz, another avid participant, aimed at transforming an old phone and a tangle of cables. Starting with a total deconstruction, he inspected the structure and textures of the electronics. He focused on what functions can be assigned to objects which have gone out of circulation. A couple of workshops later, it turned out that his flatmate created a functional ashtray from a destroyed phone, which perfectly fit a table built by Łukasz.  

Activities outside the workshops 

Besides the meetings, the artist had a taste of the very vibrant at this time of year cultural life of Wrocław. Similarly to many resident artists we cooperate with, on Sunday, she visited the marketplace at Dworzec Świebodzki, which, as she admitted, she visited too late and met only a handful of sellers. It is worth mentioning that some of the collaborations were difficult for the artist. She could not contact the founder of the Wrocław weaving gallery, Na Jatkach. For unknown reasons, this small gallery was closed until the end of the artist’s residency. The closest weaving traces led to a small village in Lower Silesia – Chełmsko Śląskie, where is located a complex of weavers’ houses built in the second half of the 18th century. Stanca talked with Olga Budzan about this place – the person in charge of this complex and objects connected with Wrocław. Budzan has extensive knowledge of weaving and ethnography of this region. The story of Cepelia, which existed until 1990, turned out to be of great interest to the artist. It was an organisation bringing together cooperatives of folk and artistic handicrafts, operating commercial facilities for the sale of goods produced in the associated cooperatives throughout Poland. For the artist, the fact that some artists had never received any remuneration for their objects handed in for sale was a reason to critically consider the economic situation of artists and the condition of artistic handicrafts in general.  

Besides that, the artist paid particular attention to an individual project on a new topic and an object brought to Wrocław. It was a boar skull brought from Paris, which she intended to transform into utility objects. As a result, she created a series of things which still need some final touches. Maybe she will do it in France, in the privacy of her studio.  

Collaboration with the Ethnographic Museum – how did it start?  

Less than three days before Stanca arrived in Wrocław, the Ethnographic Museum opened an inspiring exhibition, “You Won’t Forget. Memory, Memento, Memoir.” Objects of various eras connected with different social groups were meticulously selected from the museum and private collections for the sake of the display. The exhibition consists of things we surround ourselves with in our houses and present to our relatives for different occasions. A visit to this place, the similar scope of interest and support from the institution’s director and Olga Budzan led to one workshop organised in the yard of the Ethnographic Museum. A cosy afternoon spent surrounded by nature was a perfect summary of the series of meetings which took place at the turn of May and June.   

Both for the artist and the local community, the residency of Stanca Soare in Wrocław gave a start to a reflection on second-hand objects and the condition of handicraft techniques in Poland. The conversations during the workshops inspired people to reconsider the role of utility objects and upcycling in the city.  

Paulina Brelińska-Garsztka / emerging curator

Wroclaw Institute of Culture is a partner of the international Magic Carpets  platform co-funded by the European Union’s Creative Europe programme, bringing together more than a dozen cultural organisations. Stanka’s residency took place thanks to the MagiC Carpets network and cooperation with emerging curator Raluca Elena Doroftei representing META Cultural Foundation.

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