In her work chosen for the exhibition Slow Life – Radical Practices of the Everyday, Diana Lelonek investigates the relationship of humankind and nature. In the Center for the Living Things she explores new forms of life, a consequence of human overproduction. The products of this overproduction are becoming a natural habitat for these organisms.
Among Diana Lelonek’s other works there are several audio projects. One of them is a sound installation Melting Gallery, which she aimed at raising awareness about global warming by the means of the sound of melting glaciers. Endling is a compilation of archival audio recordings of birds, from which some species are already considered to be extinct. Nightingale Concert (Luscinia luscinia) invites us to look around and to find the beauty even in the most crowded places of our big cities. All these sound installations encourage us to slow down and to immerse ourselves in these sounds of nature, to contemplate our own relationship to the world around us. (J.E.)
SoundCloud links are the courtesy of the artist
All texts below by Diana Lelonek
Diana Lelonek/ Denim Szram, Melting Gallery, 2019
The sound installation prepared in collaboration with the Swiss sound artist and composer, Denim Szram, was created during Diana Lelonek’s residency as part of the Culturescapes festival in Basel. The recordings created by the artist on three melting Alpine glaciers: du Rhone, Aletsch and Morteratsch composed into a song by Denim Szram are a kind of symphony of disappearing glaciers. The sound of a slowly trickling catastrophe, whose arrival is hardly spectacular, is blurred, present everywhere and nowhere, and gives rise to anxiety and is lined with fear. Alpine glaciers are disappearing very quickly; some of them have already gone forever. A trip to the glacier, listening to the ubiquitous sounds of uniform dripping, resembles a countdown. The sound is a direct sign of irretrievable loss.
The multi-channel sound installation presented in an empty exhibition space, fills the room with sound, while the classic ‘white cube’ form has not been filled with objects. The emptiness is a kind of manifesto but also a question: what is the place of art in the climate crisis? It is also a question about the overproduction of objects within the process of production art, the art world being a market that constantly craves new projects, trends and works. The production race sometimes lacks the space for us to stop and feel.
Concept/records: Diana Lelonek
Composition: Denim Szram
(Composition from the audio installation, solo show at Labirynt Gallery, Lublin, PL), 2019
The exhibition refers to the problem of the inevitable extinction of species caused primarily by human activity. “Endling”, which is the title of the exhibition, stands for the last member of species. The term was first used in the “Nature” journal in April 1996. It reappeared in 2001 in the National Museum of Australia at the exhibition presenting skin of the last Tasmanian tiger.
The artist created a sound installation of bird voices recorded by scientists. The composition includes voices of birds that are considered to be extinct. This poignant piece is the final call with no answer. It is an act of regret and an attempt to depict the irreversible degradation of the natural environment. Dark empty gallery space became physical representation of nothingness, a hostile spectre of the future that has already begun even though we tend not to see it.
Composed in collaboration with Marcin Lenarczyk
Archive records from the collection of Cornell Lab of Ornithology and www.xenocanto.com
Nightingale Concert (Luscinia luscinia)
June 2019, action in the urban space
There is a nightingale living in the centre of Warsaw. The bird, which usually doesn’t like crowded and noisy spaces, chose as its shelter a rose bush on Patelnia – the “Frying Pan”, the patio at the south entrance to the Centrum station of the Warsaw Metro.
Apparently, it has been living there for several years. Every year in May and early June, in the evening, at night, and in the morning, one can hear its song. Experts say that it is a phenomenon that it chose this location. After all, the “Frying Pan” is one of the busiest spots in the city, located at the intersection of busy transport routes and always swarming with people.
Nightingales like to be heard. The one from Warsaw city centre must sing louder than its relatives in the suburban areas – it is not easy to drown out the passing trams. Still, hardly anyone stops to listen to its song.
As part of the exhibition “City Squares. An Instruction Manual” that took place at the Zodiak Warsaw Pavilion of Architecture in June 2019, I invited people to listen to the nightingale’s concert together. The space of a busy square in the city centre has become a space for listening, being together, and awareness. After a two-hour wait, the nightingale began its performance.
In the rhythm of the nightingale’s song, the “Frying Pan” has become a space worth stopping at, a space to listen together, to be with each other, experience time in a different way, and shape the sense of an interspecies intimacy. This concert was the beginning of a series of events during which we collectively listened to seasonal concerts performed by: frogs, crickets, birds, and other creatures.