Elzbieta Wysakoska-Walters

»Sleeping on a line«
Poznan, Video Installation, PL 2010


‘In the mid 19th century, workhouses, doss houses and other cheap forms of accommodation began to spring up and these were usually dirty, overcrowded and very uncomfortable. The cheapest of all were the lodge houses, which were so cramped inside that people had to sleep sitting on a long bench, wedged in next to each other. As even the most dog tired still may have had trouble sleeping in a upright position, lodge owners would string a clothes line along the front of them at chest height, stretch it tight and folk could spend the night slumped over that. Early the following morning, the clothes line would be cut (...), waking the guests as they all crushed to the floor in front of them’ (J. Albert 2005 Shaggy Dogs & Black Sheep: The origins of even more phrases we use every day Penguin Books, London)


I was inspired by the social aspect of the experience and it seems to me that a reconstruction of the situation with the line, even without a prior knowledge of the context, could be a meaningful act for contemporary people. I feel that through bringing back the original, long forgotten, meaning, I open up for examination a profusion of meanings in contemporary culture. To start with the situation of migrant workers in contemporary Europe, and to arrive at the fragility or lack of security in contemporary society, the interdependency and outer forces regulating our lives. I am referring here to the overpowering feeling of helplessness and restriction.

Language, in this work, is a form of archive in which there is kept the knowledge about human experience. The examination of phrase etymology in contrast with contemporary conditions, or contemporary situation initiates reflection and documentation of contemporary phenomena in culture.

Elzbieta Wysakoska-Walters, studies Intermedia at the Fine Art Academy in Poznan, Poland.