Signs of the Times – collecting material traces and memories by Karolina Żyniewicz

Bio-sociological experiment / Participatory event
16:00 – 18:30

Masks (medical/textile) became symbols of these challenging times, confinement, uncertainty, and fear. Pictures of people wearing masks will be historical documents of this period. With time, they will have different meanings. Masks are dedicated to protecting us from the virus but are used for too long; they can also be dangerous for our health, accumulating everything coming from our nose and mouth while breathing and talking. After a few hours of wearing, they are soaked with body secretions and individual micro-flora. We should not absorb it back.

Found masks. Photo credit Adam Bogdan

Besides pictures of masks being worn, they are also masks lying in the streets. After usage, they become trash, biohazardous trash. They are then anonymous; we can’t know who was wearing them. Maybe it was a coronavirus carrier or a person being sick with various illnesses. In Spring 2021, I decided to collect masks from the streets of Berlin to use them as laboratory samples in the future. Then I realized that I wanted to listen to people and collect their masks and memories from the covid 19 pandemic. The pandemic is not over yet, and the presentation of the project required of it is definitely ended. The laboratory stage of the project is planned for 2/3 years from now. Hopefully, it will be enough time to see the collections from a different perspective.

Karolina Żyniewicz
Signs of the Times – collecting material traces and memories, Chapter 2, Gdansk, Poland, 2021. Photo credit Adam Bogdan.

Part I: presentation of my background and the workshop idea – 45 min
Break: 15 min

Part II: collecting biological traces/memories
– We have a camera set on a tripod, in a stable position, and neutral white background.
There is a chair located in front of the camera.
– Each participant gets a fresh medical mask to place on their face. They sit in front of the camera, wearing a mask, to tell a story from the pandemic time. People are sitting around, listening to stories and waiting for their turn. While talking, people expel microflora, which settles on the mask.
After finishing the story, every person gives me the mask, placing it in the medical/laboratory falcon.
– The general idea is to conduct a kind of collective storytelling.
What we need:
– camera and tripod, chair, white background
– dispensable medical masks
– plastic falcons (as in the picture above)
– rubber dispensable gloves

Karolina Żyniewicz
Signs of the Times – collecting material traces and memories, Chapter 2, Gdansk, Poland, 2021. Photo credit: Adam Bogdan.

This is a 2G event – Covid-19 vaccination or recovery proof will be checked at the entrance.

The space is limited to 12 people. Please do register via email: top [at] top-ev [dot] de. By registering, you agree to be part of the project. But your participation can be off-the-record. The consent documents will be provided on-site.