The words have spoken. Laura Adel’s residency

This text talks about the artist’s cooperation with the public in June 2023 in Wrocław. The first part is a report on actions and a record of the working methods of Laura Adel with Anna Garasko, Franciszka Drozd, Dominika Chwaster, Marta Sieczkowska, Maciej Brys, Barbara Krupa, Sonia Obolewicz, Wojciech Laskowski and Iza Ataman-Krok. The other part consists of notes on particular projects produced during the meetings. 
Part 1 Record

They are an essential form of communication; they remind us about daily responsibilities, recall memories, help express emotions or just communicate information and creative ideas. All the above could not happen without words. Their crucial social function is also visible in public spaces, where they are written on a wall, presented on a billboard or put in less obvious places, initiating dialogues with their surroundings. Words allow us to personalise spaces and make them less anonymous, more familiar and ours. They are spoken. Not surprisingly, contemporary artists use such daily means of communication in their works. For them, public spaces are more interesting locations for their art than galleries and museums.

During the residency of Laura Adel, an artist born in Gdańsk but residing in Wrocław, the workshop participants had a chance to focus on the actions mentioned above and create their own messages in public spaces.

Four meetings titled “The Word of Mouth” took place in Recepcja, one of the premises of the Wrocław Institute of Culture.

This place is located in the courtyard of ul. Ruska 46, where many cultural institutions, art studios, and other organisations operate. A small courtyard hidden between townhouses is full of life at night and more peaceful and inspiring during the day.

At the meetings with the group, the artist spoke about her emotional approach to notes and the possibilities of expressing words in public spaces. She cared for the participants’ stories and thoughts, their handwriting and ideas on utilising the workshop elements: wooden stamps, beads, magnetic film, markers and stickers. The selection of the workshop tools said more about the artist herself, who has worked with words for a long time by focusing on their form, placement and method of recording them. By giving similar tools to the group, she could investigate what other variants of artistic actions there could be and how the choice of words placed in a space depended on personality.

The next step was tours in the parks surrounding the city’s moat, the underground passage at pl. Jana Pawła II and ul. św. Antoniego. Finally, the created urban micro-interventions were left in their places or disappeared rapidly with heavy rains. Their ephemeral nature stated their value, and their only proof of existence was the photographs Laura and other participants took. The artist intended to create a digital collection of memories, notes and photos summarising the workshops and to enrich it with personalised annotations on the collective work.

The series of meetings initiated actions that some of the participants continued and are still continuing at home. A nice touch at the end of the workshops was Franka’s statement, a regular attendee of the meetings, who admitted to having appreciated a relaxed outdoor atmosphere. On top of that, Ania recalled the university art classes she had participated in long ago when she studied at an academy in Ukraine. She enjoyed the meetings in Recepcja as they allowed her to feel like she had returned to those creative times.

II part. Subjectively

One of the first tasks of the workshops was to create a personalised record of your own name, which had to tell the story of its author. This seemingly easy form took a lot of time. Funny formal methods and childlike techniques of execution were not so easy to replicate when you had to portray yourself, your hobbies and adult life. As it turned out, at the last workshop, some participants overcame this barrier and created sensitive and important art pieces. Next meetings focused on reflections on words and places with deeper and metaphorical meanings. Everyone, including a random passer-by, could interpret the created micro-interventions individually, which got absorbed more and more into the urban fabric.  

During one of the tours, Laura suggested that each participant find an object in the street which could hold a message. On their way back from the walk, the transformed thing was to be photographed in one place, chosen by an author.

That is how TOUCHED BUT NOT MOVED ended up on a piece of bubble wrap. It multidimensionally referred to an accidentally found object, which gained a new meaning by placing it in a skip. The forgotten piece of wrap with all bubbles popped became not only a piece of trash but also a manifesto/slogan emphasising its uselessness even more strongly. Besides the word intervention, the artist also created a micro-ecological one – she cleaned after her predecessor.

During the tours, the workshop participants chose natural objects, like leaves, seeds, and pieces of wood. Some were inspired by city waste or ripped posters, or already existing commentaries, which were acts of vandalism. In opposition to them, Laura encouraged the members to do tiny interventions, which did not tarnish the surrounding but made people reflect. They could disappear at any given moment. Their only proof of existence was a photograph.

– Kocham Cię (I love you”)

– Nic nie szkodzi … (“That’s ok…”) – Franka

Franka put the slogan on a registry office building. This handwritten dialogue was to be stuck with magnets to the red plaque with the institution’s name. But because the magnets did not work, the slogan was placed above it. A small note subtly commented on the wedding ceremonies taking place there and was a perverse, ironic commentary on the marriage.

The micro-actions took place not only in the proximity of the meeting hub.

Some participants continued their work at home or in the street and kept in touch with Laura by emailing the photographs. Sonia’s slogan encouraged people to stop for a second in a park, relax and look at nature. Marta had a similar approach – she placed a magnetic slogan, “Breath,” nearby her house on a pole to remember how important her current state of well-being is.

The slogan of activist nature, calling for action, was picked up by Domi at her interventions. Poetically, she encouraged passers-by to reflect on her original messages. By blurring the word “nowe” (“new”), she added a new meaning to the website’s address. A strong slogan connected with the Wrocław film festival perfectly fitted the urban fabric, especially since the cinema was just behind the corner.

Ania worked sensitively and discreetly in the Wrocław space as she decided to write automatically on stick-in notes. Her notes were hidden behind paint peeling off the walls. Thanks to her tiny intervention, she encouraged people to decipher the randomly written words. As it goes for automatic writing, it is not always easy to read the real message. Sometimes these are just uncorrelated words. Her works were the opposite of an advertisement; they were more personal. Despite being hidden in the paint cracks, her intervention was highly visible in the urban space.

Basia found pleasure in performing words. Because she engages with dance and movement, Basia intuitively recorded the important messages on her body. Thus she referred to the performativity of words being not only a tool in communication but also in action. The awareness of the performativity of words can help us be more responsible for what we say and understand how powerful words are. They speak to us.

Paulina Brelińska-Garsztka / 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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