Evergreen

series of photos and videos

"The project reflects the theme of dystopia in the immediate vicinity of the (Slovak) Paradise, while the title refers to an eternal song about the return to the home and at the same time to the increasingly pressing ecological issues of the present.

In the multimedia installation, the author draws inspiration from her native Central Spiš region which is the gateway to the Slovak Paradise National Park. At first glance the poetic country hides long-term unresolved social and environmental problems as a consequence of the development of heavy industry during the socialist era.

The Rudňany iron ore mines were the largest supplier of mercury in the former Czechoslovakia. After persistent problems, the factory ceased its activities in 1993, which resulted in an increase in unemployment and a general social decline of the surrounding municipalities. Decades of high production with outdated technology have created a large, ecologically dangerous dry tailings pond behind the factory, which is still unresolved there.

The audiovisual recording shows the tailings pond behind the non-functioning factory, the NPZ Ortuťovna, in the immediate vicinity of the village of Oľšo. Contaminated sand contains a high concentration of heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, cadmium or lead, which get into the environment through wind or groundwater.

At the same time, there was a little research on the quality of the surrounding soil, the authorities do not want to deal with the issue and people are not informed about the danger. The village of Oľšo, which was evicted under socialism due to unsuitable living conditions due to the proximity of the factory, is coming to life again. People buy cheap land there to build housing. Also an entertainment park grew up in the area, which with its light-hearted atmosphere contrasts sharply with the nearby skeleton of the factory. The artist installs her swimming performance in the pool of the given entertainment park in the projection of the sludge pond in order to draw attention to the proximity of invisible or unseen danger.

Katarína Balúnová used multimedia to express the social and ecological grievances of the region in an artistically performative manner. Through this act of action, she enables the observers to have an expanded access to these problems. This enables further actions to be initiated."

Curator: Denise Herz

Collaboration: Dušan Bevilacqua

Supported using public funding by Slovak Arts Council.