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Cecylia Malik

Maja and Reuben Fowkes: What was the motivation for your Six Rivers art project and how was it realised?

Cecylia Malik: Most likely no one has ever flowed down all of Kraków’s rivers, and contrary to appearances, the task is not simple. Most sections of the rivers are inaccessible, enclosed with fences of allotments and odd post-industrial areas. The valleys of these rivers are however a very interesting narrow veins of wild nature. That’s why I decided to get to know them, to experience the city I have lived in since I was born by means of a completely unfamiliar perspective. The project referred also to childhood games, in which me and my colleagues discovered unique places, very often situated fifteen minutes away from home. We gave them names and kept them secret. Each Six Rivers film is dedicated to a different Kraków river flowing into the Vistula and presents the journey that I made using a small, hand-made boat.

MRF: Why do you think it’s important to sometimes break rules and social conventions?

CM: I think that art is subject to slightly different rules than the normal ones. So sometimes in order to say something important in a strong and beautiful way you might decide to climb a monument, to break through a metal fence, to jump into the water at the place where bathing is prohibited, and include the fines into the costs of production of art in the same way as the costs of paint and canvas.

MRF: What is specific about experiencing the river on a self-made boat, compared to walking through nature?

CM: Journey 1. Realising the 6 Rivers project involved working on the film, doing research, looking for good places for the cameraman, which I spent a lot of time on. I also boated down all 6 rivers with ornithologist Kazimierz Walasz in a pontoon. I was a really hard journey, because we boated down each river in one day, sometimes it was almost impossible, as the rivers are sometimes too shallow, sometimes we were trapped in rubbish and lying branches.

Next I started to think that I needed something special, a boat which would look good in pictures and that maybe could be made with things you can find in the river. Piotrek my husband helped me with the construction of my small bout.

Journey 2. Then we made the second journey together. Piotrek and I walked along all the rivers to look for the most beautiful places and find good positions for Piotrek Pawlus my cameraman. These walks with Piotrek and our dog Orsi were one of the greatest times in my life. Walking in nature – in forgotten spaces that are sometimes not obvious or have not special interest, is one of the biggest pleasures for me, and with such nice company J we felt like kids who are playing at discovering new lands and kingdoms.

Journey 3. I went down the river in my little boat. Piotrek Dziurdzia made photos of me in places that we’d chosen before, and some parts of the journey were filmed by Piotrek Pawlus. I was alone in the boat. Sometimes I jumped into the cold water, I also found myself in the middle of the wild Vistula River in the winter time. This third journey was dangerous, sometimes I had to overcome my fear, be strong, and it was really exiting.

So boating down with my guide Ornithologist Kazimierz Walasz was very educational and important. He told me about Krakow wild life, about ecology and river protection.

Walking with Piotrek before filming to choose the best locations was really a pleasure, very often you see more from the river bank then you do on the river, I prefer walking along the river then boating in it, it’s more relaxing and you can see where you really are.

But boating down rivers in a handmade vessel was exiting and a better way to feel the river with all the senses, to move with the river, to be in the rhythm of the river. To be wet, feel the water, temperature, smell or fragrances.

MRF: In many of the images of your river actions you are accompanied by your dog, how does that change the experience of walking and being in nature?

CM: Walking through nature gives me a true experience of pleasure and delight. Dogs experience nature and space differently, stronger, more sensually. My dog Orsi is so fast, she is everywhere in one second, in the water, under the bushes. She knows animal paths, she can reach places that are impossible for us to see. When we walk with her it gives me part of her true joy. And I feel that I share a little of her energy. And also she makes my view more beautiful because she looks like a white wolf. She is part of nature.

Cecylia Malik, 6 Rivers, 2011-2. Photo: Cecylia Malik and Piotr Dziurdzia.

Cecylia Malik (Born 1975 Kraków )Painter, performer, activist and curator. Her artistic revolve around environmental and socio – political issues, "right to the city" initiative and "social sculpture". She develops her public projects in close cooperation with scientists and local communities. She is the author of numerous exhibitions and art projects. The most important ones include: Ikonostas City, Concert at Mr Thug’s (Zderzak Gallery Krakow), 365 Treesand 6 RiversProjects carried out with Justyna Koeke: 22/8 Smoleńsk Street and Alcon Blue Collective. She participated in the Photography Biennale in Poznań and in Dialogues at the 11th Biennale of Contemporary Art in St Petersburg. In 2013 her activities were presented in the retrospective City Reservation at Bunkier Sztuki. In 2012 she received a grant from the Minister of Culture and National Heritage.


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