Our civilisation has poisoned the river waters and their contamination has taken on a
powerful emotional sense. Since the course of the river is a symbol of time, we are inclined
to think of poisoned time
Czesław Miłosz Rzeki
The awareness of the fact that 19 rivers of Lodz are still flowing and that we cross them every day when going over bridges or moving over canals, is not obvious to the residents of our city. However, its restoration is an elementary condition for the necessary change.
The RIVERSCAPE project is part of the ‘blue humanities’ trend, which draws attention to the need for a material and discursive experience of water. There is a real need / necessity to restore the subjectivity of the rivers flowing through our city. This is only possible by restoring our awareness of the presence and the role of rivers historically, as well as revealing their life-giving potential.
It is important to create a collective sensitivity that will allow to include a ‘non-human’ perspective in our ecological approach to the world. Solidarity with rivers, which we continue to treat as objects, is necessary for our survival.
The destruction of the river ecosystem is a kind of unconscious disaster. We have never been in touch with what we lost when the 19 rivers disappeared from our lives. We have not held mourning for the loss of the rivers without which our city would not have been built. Nor do we feel guilty about the colonising strategy of plundering water resources, of which the inhumane actors of our environment are victims in the first place.
We have not articulated the loss, yet if our ‘mythical’ rivers were still flowing on the surface, anyone living in the city could be on the banks of one of them within minutes. Renaturalisation of the already dead watercourses, would benefit our quality of life. Revealing the loss is possible through activities such as art projects that will make us aware of the presence of rivers and understand the need to repair the harm done to the environment and ourselves.
Overcoming the destructive legacy of the Anthropocene requires abandoning the anthropocentric perspective, whose arrogance and selfishness does not allow us to see a partner in other entities (in this case rivers and their ecosystems). The rivers are not our property and their objectification should be replaced by a partnership, requiring a new vision of the world that takes into account the hydrological perspective. A new narrative is necessary to make a difference in our environment.
Photography, which has both documentary and evocative potential, can play an important role in this change. The scale of the problem is beyond the capacity of any single individual, so a sense of community needs to be rebuilt for the sake of the whole ecosystem that keeps everyone safe.
curator: Tomasz Ferenc
artist: Marek Domański
Exhibition was created in collaboration with University of Lodz.