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Sylwia Gorak / Witch Rises to Power by Singing


Hetty Ann Laycock
Photo. Krzysztof Tomasik

Baltic Gallery of Contemporary Art
Centre for Creative Activities  in Ustka
/ ul. Zaruskiego 1a

Sylwia Gorak
Witch Rises to Power by Singing

Curated by
Weronika Teplicka

Discipline / performance, drawing
Period of stay / May – June 2024

During my artist residency, I intend to research the acoustics of the Witch Tower in order to create a sound sculpture and vocal performance “Witch Rises to Power by Singing” (the title is a quote from an old practical magic textbook). As a professional singer, I have repeatedly experienced the beneficial effects of singing on the mental and physical wellbeing. In difficult and dramatic circumstances, singing becomes a therapeutic process allowing one to build a personal sense of power in life. Intense vocal work has developed in me some echolocation capabilities that allow me to navigate rooms without using the sense of sight. Blindfolded, I have been exploring the acoustics of galleries, old castles and churches for many years working internally with acoustics and the echolocation sense. During a performance, I find the most acoustic spots in a room or something like ‘power spots’. I mark them on the floor with white chalk and, seeing absolutely nothing, return to them several times guided only by the sounds and inner sensations.

Architecture is an auditory phenomenon in itself, enhancing the qualities of the human voice, singing and dialogue. It invisibly ‘organises’ our social life. Acoustics, reverberation effects, echoes, the natural amplification of sound or its disappearance are prominent properties of any architecture being a part of it.

When I think of the thousands of imprisoned and persecuted European women facing accusations of witchcraft, I identify psychologically with them at dramatic moments in their lives. Women in Poland, and especially in the Podkarpacie region where I come from, are still treated unjustly if they do not want to conform to the prevailing patriarchal social systems. For creative, unmarried and childless women, life in this part of Poland is quite difficult, as they are considered a suspicious antisocial element. In my early youth, while attending vocal workshops led by Professor Olga Szwajgier, I learnt to liberate my voice, to build with it inner power and self-esteem as a human being. I think that an imprisoned ‘witch’ could practice effective self-therapy with her voice. The residency will culminate in a vocal “concert” based on the phenomenon of Witch Tower acoustics and echolocation, and a series of charcoal drawings on paper depicting my personal para-magical practices. “Drawing down the Moon” will be a reflection on the phases of the moon reflected in the sea, in the context of a seascape. /Sylwia Gorak/.

Sylwia Gorak

is a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, with a degree in Prof. Jerzy Kałucki’s painting studio and Prof. Jarosław Kozłowski’s performance studio. Holder of scholarships, including Prohealvetia in Switzerland, CECArtsLink in New York and Landeshauptstadt Kulturamt in Düsseldorf. Winner of the 5th Young Artists’ Biennale “Fish Eye”. Performer, vocalist. Exhibitions and concerts (including at Carnegie Hall New York). Creator of the World’s Largest Sundial (urban-art) in Düsseldorf. She is currently active in acoustic performance (she has a four-octave voice scale) and conceptual performance and is active in the international art circuit. She received a grant from the Susch Museum of the Grażyna Kulczyk Foundation. She co-created the international Common Ground project at the CCA in Toruń, as well as in Reykjavik and Vilnius. A pupil of Prof. Olga Szwajgier, a world-renowned opera singer.