Fading Senses

Ligia Popławska

2019 - Ongoing

Solastalgia is a relatively new concept for understanding the implications of the loss of ecosystems on our mental and emotional health. The term introduced in 2003 by environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht, describes a sense of a climate grief, a feeling of ‘losing home while being in it’. This earth-related state reflects the zeitgeist of our time. As an increasing problem in societies, it manifests itself in a feeling of dislocation, a lived experience of the loss of the present.

A perspective of a fading world and a state of fading-away is close to sensory deprivation. Absence of senses, one of the biggest human fears, can lead to intra-mental perception, echolocation and memory flashbacks. As I have temporarily lost one of the senses in the past, this deprivation became my intuitive leading guide, which I applied to the working method and to the visual language. During the process, I was drawn to places connected to the notion of supposed stability and protection, like socialist architecture, space of a zoo, a home for visually impaired or an acrobatic centre. Focusing on these places and on people who inhabit them, I searched for visual signs of disconnection, which reflect the feeling of insecurity.

My research and fascination on Solastalgia and loss of senses started from my own experience of a climate grief. In 2017 a tornado-like storm passed through a hundreds-years old forest situated in Bory Tucholskie, Poland, a very dear place to me. In fifteen minutes forty hectares of this forest have been turned into an apocalyptic landscape. Information about the scale of the disaster not only struck me, I felt a sense of grief for various species which were lost there. Around the same time I also temporarily lost a sense of smell. I’ve become fascinated about the idea of ‘disappearing senses’ and how incredibly fragile yet powerful they are. I’ve begun to wonder and examine on myself – what happens if we lose our senses? How does it affect our emotional health and memory, in the times of multispecies extinction? I also saw a deep connection between senses and climate change – after a disaster in Bory Tucholskie there was no sound of birds singing, no smell of moss and mushrooms, no view on the forest.

‘Fading Senses’ refers to the threat of ungraspable sensation but also underlines human disconnection from the natural habitat.

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