The secret garden / performance

fot. GSW Opole

The performance The Secret Garden was part of the Apiary Island Festival organized by GSW in Opole in spring and summer 2022. My action was inspired by motifs taken from traditional culture. In folk songs, the natural world becomes a reflection of human states, decisions and emotions. There is a motif in them in which flowers grow on the site where a crime was committed, where someone’s body was secretly buried. This motif appears, for example, in the ballad Lilie, popularized by Adam Mickiewicz. The Odra River Park in Opole is a place where city residents can walk among majestic trees, which, unfortunately, are becoming fewer and fewer every year due to logging and the desire to control nature. Who among you hasn’t wondered what trees – silent witnesses of history – see? I often think about what the old tree would tell me if it could talk, if its rustling leaves could whisper what the knots saw. When creating The secret garden, I thought about how seeds hidden in the ground die and sprout new shoots, releasing and dissolving secrets. These are not terrible stories of crimes, but rather stories that we do not want to tell anyone or secrets that were given to us, but which we no longer want to carry, which we would like to give back to the earth… maybe the rustling flower petals will reveal some secrets to us?

fot. Agnieszka Kropiowska

The performance started before the audience arrived. In the park where my action took place, I dug a bed under the tree, the size of which corresponded to the dimensions of my body. When the audience arrived, I looked for eye contact with the audience and „exchanged secrets” with interested people by putting a seed into my mouth. Then, in a gesture resembling a kiss, I passed the seed to the earth. Finally, I took off my shoes, dipped my feet in the ground, took all the seeds that remained in the bag into my mouth and lay down on the bed, gradually giving her all the seeds and secrets of the earth in a kiss.