Six totem poles by Alicja Biała and Iwo Borkowicz have been erected at The Bay of Art, in Poznań, Poland. They symbolise the relationship between human and the forces of nature, which were once perceived as mystical ancestors.
A QR code has been placed on each totem pole. After scanning the code, specific scientific reports and statistics will be displayed on a smartphone. Each of the six totem poles refers to a different environmental issue.
The sculptures that make up the installation are hand painted by Alicja Biała using patterns characteristic of the artist's work. They consist of a three-dimensional image that takes up an area of 400 square meters. The different proportions, colours and patterns reflect the results of research, and provide statistics on the condition of the environment. As a result, we can visualise the scale of timber felling, air pollution, overexploitation of fisheries and more. The giant totem poles, in bright colours, draw attention to themselves not only due to their aesthetics, their role is to encourage and prompt passers-by to interact.
Public space allows art to reach everyone, not only a narrow group of gallery and museum-goers. The totem poles are based on statistics which we wanted to include in the public space. The Information reflects our amorality as humans. The statistics are not only dedicated to one social group - they direct the message to the whole of society. We are curious to know whether the facts will be rejected or accepted, and if our intentions will be interpreted correctly. The work is not intended as an attack but as an invitation to enter into discussion, with a view towards evolving as a society.
the artist of the installation, Alicja Biała comments
It took a while to select topics and it was quite a dynamic process. In the beginning, a broad spectrum of issues was contemplated. We wanted to create six pillars of different natures, but of equal gravity. In terms of civilisation, in many respects we have been going in the right direction in the last decade. However, the opposite unfortunately must be said about the environmental condition of the Earth. Therefore, due to the critical situation of human influence on the environment, we have decided to concentrate on this topic. The next step in creating the totem poles was to select and verify the data and its sources. We took great care to make sure that information we used came from reliable sources.
Iwo Borkowicz, the co-author of the project's concept adds.