Zakole Wawerskie is a surprisingly wild wetland located be- tween Gocław and Wawer developments, in the immediate vicinity of Trasa Siekierkowska and Trakt Lubelski routes. It hides an old river bed of the Vistula that used to meander there, as well as former floodlands of the river. Zakole includes a number of naturally diverse areas, such as peat bogs, an alder forest, and vast meadows inhabited by numerous creatures. It serves as a natural habitat of the largest number of bird species in the capital city. Moreover Zakole Wawerskie plays a key role in the municipal water circulation sys- tem, both in terms of preventing the more and more acute droughts and the more and more frequent floods, as well as in a broader sense due to the role of wetlands and biodiversity in preventing the climatic and environmental disaster. The question of developing this area has been the subject of a tacit conflict for years. People who own plots of land there urge for a decision about their future to be made.
The ZAKOLE project aims to find new ways of talking about and experiencing places such as Zakole Wawerskie and to present the perspective of creatures inhabiting and co-creating these areas in a close up. We wish to emphasize the importance of such places in cities, especially for natural and climatic reasons, but also take into account the complexity of relations and interests of various actors connected to these places.
In order to get to know Zakole Wawerskie better we placed a camera obscura there. It is a pin- hole camera which serves not only as a cognitive experiment but is also an excuse for holding low-key meetings and exchanging thoughts and experience relating to Zakole. As a mediation in contacts with the surrounding world, the reversed image from the camera obscura raises questions on our capacity to understand other organisms and the network of relations they develop.
We will be looking for answers to these questions in the following months during our experimental tours with a group of artists and biologists as an exercise in mindfulness and empathy towards non-human beings. Activities under the ZAKOLE project are a chance to generate and exchange various kinds of knowledge, including historical and scientific expertise, as well as the personal one, embodied and based on sensory experience.
ZAKOLE is part of the EU “MediaActivism” (mediactivism.eu) project that is managed in Poland by Krytyka Polityczna.