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Whispers of the Primeval Forest

Whispers of the Primeval Forest is a research project that will investigate the history, present and speculative futures of the Białowieża Primeval Forest (Puszcza Białowieska), a natural treasure and Europe’s last ancient forest, aged between 8.000 to 12.000 years. Situated on the Polish-Belarusian border, it is a protected UNESCO World Heritage site of extraordinary biodiversity, untouched by humans until recently.

In what way can we narrate stories concerning emerging environmental issues that empower the more-than-human species? How to cultivate practices of deep listening to nature that can be applied in contemporary visual practices? What does the Białowieża Primeval Forest whisper, how does it sense and adapt to human-induced changes? What stories, tales and secrets about the Białowieża Primeval Forest resonate within the local inhabitants and “whisperers” (witches)?
By drawing a speculative visual narration the artist intends to highlight the importance of more-than-human ethics, interpreting forest as a network of senses, in the spirit of posthumanist philosophies. By collaborating with local scientists, gathering archival material, referencing the writings of biologist Simona Kossak, and incorporating the stories of local inhabitants and Slavic mythical references into the narrative, Ligia Popławska intends to discover, explore and reflect on Białowieża Primeval Forest’s secrets. This research project will result in a series of photographs, a video work and a publication.


(Image: Ligia Popławska, Modrzejewo #2, 2023 from Fading Senses, 2019-ongoing)